Ahead of the Serie A game on Easter Eve between Cagliari and Inter in Trieste, we at SempreInter.com caught up with Cagliari and Swedish U21 starlet, Albin Ekdal, to hear about his thoughts regarding the match against Inter on saturday night, his chances to play in the Euros for Sweden etc.
Albin, you played a total of 2 matches against Mourinho’s Inter. In the first game you played against an Inter with many reserve-team players, and in the second match you played against a team that was on the verge of winning everything. Can you quickly describe the differences between how Inter had grown from that first game to the last, and how you and your teammates approached these games against Inter, who during the 2009/2010 season made history?
“Of course it felt much bigger to play against Inter during Mou than what it is now. It was a little bit special when Mourinho was in charge. There was a little bit more excitement, focus and besides Inter had a stronger team when he was in charge. I can say without a doubt that it was much harder to play Inter then than it is to play against them now. Now it feels as if you have a much bigger chance of taking points when you play Inter, although they are still a good team with many big players.”
During your 3 seasons here in the Serie A you’ve played against Inter 5 times and during that time Inter has had 5 different managers. Could you tell us a little bit about the tactical differences between playing Inter under Mourinho, Benitez, Leonardo and Ranieri?
“It’s difficult to point out the tactical differences between Inter under each one of those managers, but Mourinho’s Inter was the most stable and best organised, no doubt. It felt like you where playing a machine that just kept battling on until the goals arrived, whilst the Inter we see today is not as stable and heavy. Something that we have seen this year.
Name the Inter players who have impressed you the most when you played against them?
“The players who have impressed me the most are:
Samuel Etoo, with his speed and he has a style of playing which is difficult to read. Maicon Zanetti, impossible to take the ball from him and to dribble past him is not an easy task. Lucio, the player everbody wants on their team but hates to play against. He can be a real jerk on the pitch, but he’s really good and tough.”
On saturday at 15:00 you will face Inter for the sixth time and once again they have a new manager. This time it is Andrea Stramaccioni who has taken over the reins. What’s the word in the dressing room relating to Inters new manager and do you think Ficcadenti will change his preparations for the game considering the managerial change?
“We haven’t talked about Inters change of manager at all, we think Inter will play somewhat similar to before. You know all the players so there is no need for a big review before the games.”
Inter have lost a lot of ground since Thiago Motta left, what was it like to play against him? According to me he was a giant, what was your view of him on the pitch?
“Thiago Motta is really good. It is difficult to take the ball from him and he is very smart. He is difficult to play against, that’s for sure. I think Inter made a mistake by selling him, because today they lack a player of his type.”
Incidentally, your first goal in Serie A was scored against Inter. Will you score on saturday as well?
“Hopefully I’ll score a goal. I have already scored against Inter once, so why not doing it once again!”
How do you like it in Sardinia?
“I’m very happy in Sardinia. Nice Island and nice people.”
Do you speak fluent italian by now?
“I don’t speak quite fluent, but I manage without any problems.”
In my opinion you should be going to the euros with the national team. How big do you think your chances are to make it ?
“I know that it is being discussed and that I am in the thoughts of Hamrén for the euros, but if I’ll get a shot or not is really hard to say. I am doing my best for my club and then we’ll see.”
How much progress have you made as a player since arriving to Italy?
“I’m currently playing my fourth season and I’ve played regularly for three years. I’ve become better on everything as a player, but above all I am a smarter player now on the field.”
In what club and with which coach have you made the most of your progress?
“I have made progress in every club that I’ve played in, but the last 2 years I think I’ve made my most progress due to more minutes played and more responsibility on the field. If you face teams in the Serie A every week you make progress automatically.”
Pinilla kom till Cagliari under januarifönstret och är en striker av väldigt hög klass. Cossu är en underskattad spelare som levererar många assist. Vilka förutom dig själv tycker du är bäst i Cagliari och varför?
“Pinilla är som du säger en bra striker som gör målen som behövs, så han e väldigt viktig. Sen har vi enligt mig en utav italiens bästa mittbackar i Astori, som får för lite credd enligt mig.”
The game on saturday is going to be played in Trieste, whats wrong with Sant Elia and what does it mean for you to travel all the way to Trieste to face Inter?
“Of course it’s bad we can’t play at home, very bad. The problem with Sant Elia was something with the stands and the safety. It is a big blow for us because we’re strong here in Sardinia and the field in Trieste is closer for the Interisti. Inter are a bit lucky for this.”
New information keeps on coming in the Calcio Scommesse scandal. Have you noticed anything during your time in Italy?
“No it’s nothing that I’ve noticed, they talk a lot about it but I’m not well informed on the topic and I don’t really focus on it at all.”
Which player is the best: Goalkeeper, defender, midfielder and forward of the players you’ve faced?
“Goalkeeper: “Buffon, I’ve seen him practice everyday and he has something extra that few goalkeepers have.”
Central defenders: Chiellini and Astori, both are gigants, tough and smart on the field. And if that isn’t enough they are big leaders as well.
Midfielder: Pirlo, a true genious.
Forward: Zlatan. I don’t even have to explain. A champion on the field. I’ve never seen a player who receives the respect he does, many players don’t even dare to come close when he has the ball.”
Which game is the hardest to play away from home in the Serie A?
“I’d say Napoli when they’re in good shape. Tough to travel there then.”
Which team have the best supporters?
“Many teams have good fans. It’s hard to choose one. It’s allways great in Napoli, both the curve in Rome are good as well. Juve with the new stadium and San Siro have a great atmosphere as well. Bologna had good fans who supported us well without complaining at all.”
Which opponent would you prefer to enjoy a cup of coffee with?
“I would pick my friend Joel Ekstrand in Udinese, we hanged out a lot in the U21.”
A player you’re inspired by and want to play like?
“Pirlo, Paul Scholes and some more. There are a lot, but I don’t try to play like someone else, I want to build my own style.”
To conclude, how does the game finish and what’s your message to the Interisti who’ll watch the game?
“I think it’ll be an even game because Inter aren’t in the greatest form, as you probably know. I feel your frustration because the results haven’t been the best, you can win most of games but that’s after saturday!”
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