Inter have quickly moved on from Saturday’s Serie A triumph over Pescara and turned their attentions to the Coppa Italia. Andrea Stramaccioni took some time out from preparing for the quarter-final against Bologna to speak to Rai Sport‘s Thomas Villa about tomorrow’s clash at the Meazza.
How important is this game?
“I think Inter treat the Coppa Italia with due respect. It’s a competition we want to win just like the title and the Europa League, so we’ll be looking to go as far as possible. We know we’ll be up against an in-form side and we’re also aware that it’s a one-off game – we’ve already seen what happened to Napoli because Bologna are capable of causing problems for any team. It’s a game we must be fully focused for and we’re taking it very seriously.”
Bologna have just beaten Chievo 4-0…
“As I said, they’re on a high. They’ve shown they are solid at the back and they have plenty of quality up front. I think Stefano Pioli is one of the most experienced coaches in Serie A and now he’s succeeded in the difficult task of maintaining a balanced side with three attacking players on the pitch – Gabbiadini, Diamanti and Gilardino – just as he did last season with Ramirez and two others. So we have maximum respect for them but we want to go through to the semis.”
Do you expect to have any players coming back from injury available tomorrow?
“It’s only been 48 hours since the Pescara match. The two we’ll definitely have available again are the two that were suspended, Andrea Ranocchia and Juan Jesus. As for the injured players, I think by and large it will be the same as for Saturday’s game because, as I said, it’s only been 48 hours and I’d like to have them all available for the weekend.”
The second half of the season began with Inter moving two points closer to Juventus – they are now 7 points ahead. ‘The season is still long’ is something you often say.
“I often say that when talking about us, but we mustn’t let ourselves be affected by where the leaders are because we have our own path to follow. It’s an absolute priority for us to get back into the Champions League and it’s especially important that we get a bit of consistency going again. That’s something we lacked in the first half of the season: after going on a brilliant run we lost our way and dropped a few too many points. Inter need to be more consistent in the second half of the campaign both in terms of results and performances, and I think we’re on the right path.”
But you get the impression that Juventus and the other teams ahead of us aren’t that much better. They all have their ups and downs and don’t really look all that much better than Inter.
“I think there are two things to consider. In a single game we’ve shown that we can compete with anyone, both with teams who are ahead of us and teams that are level with us. But we must admit – and we can do this calmly and modestly – others have been more consistent than we have. They’ve dropped fewer points along the way. I think the performances we’ve produced in the head-to-heads with our rivals have given us the belief that we’re in it and that we will be in it until the end, but the points we’ve dropped – and there have been a few too many against the so-called ‘small’ teams – have given us the incentive to knuckle down and make sure we don’t repeat the same mistakes in the second half of the season. Having said that, it’s very difficult to keep producing the goods week in week out in Serie A because the competition is so fierce. We see that every Sunday and now Roma and Fiorentina have fallen victim to it as well.”
What is Inter’s general situation during this period of the transfer market?
“In a period like the one we’re in, I think it’s normal that even teams that are already very competitive will look to improve. The same goes for us. We’ve already said many times that this is the first year of a project. We ended the summer transfer season with a certain kind of team in mind, then changes on the pitch brought us to the start of the New Year with a different Inter than the one we had in mind last summer, but the project remains the same. So naturally we want to try, together with the help of the directors and president Moratti, to make a few signings that could improve Inter.”
You said “no big signings in January”. Are you still so sure?
“I said that because I don’t like misleading our fans. In my opinion, unless there are any significant departures there won’t be any big signings. If a few players move on then anything is possible.”