From how hard it was to watch the derby against AC Milan when he was suspended, to the next match against Lazio: Ricky Alvarez broached these two subjects and much more in an exclusive interview with Sky Sport 24: “I really struggled with not being able to play in the derby, on a scale of one to ten, I’d say it was a ten. It’s a big game for us and I was really disappointed not to be able to help my team-mates, but what matters is that the team went out there and got the three points.”

The Argentine then told the programme what people should expect from Inter going forward: “We need to keep doing what we’re doing, more like the first few games of the season when we didn’t concede many goals and scored a lot. I think that’s the ideal situation.”

What does Alvarez hope for in 2014? “It’s an important year, first of all I’m thinking about doing well here at Inter, one of the biggest clubs in the world, then obviously there’s the World Cup as we all know, it’s a great opportunity and let’s hope… Am I thinking a lot about it? I’d be lying if I told you otherwise, I’m thinking about it because I’ve made the last few squads and I feel I’ve got a chance of going to the World Cup. But I need to perform well here, I’m focused on giving everything in training and then a national team call up might come as a consequence.”

The midfielder then explained why it’s no longer difficult to switch back on after the Christmas break: “No, it only lasted a few days, during which we never stopped training. We’ve all done what we needed to in order to be fit and firing again.”

“We’re not thinking about that, just focusing on our game” was how the Argentine responded to questions about whether the mounting pressure of Lazio coach Petkovic would be an advantage or a disadvantage for the Nerazzurri. Can Inter prove they’ve made progress by accommodating Alvarez, Guarin and Kovacic all in the side together? “We’re all players who are more attacking than defensive-minded and we need to work on that, if all three of us are picked together we need to learn more in that area, then it’s up to the coach to pick the team.”

Transfer rumours suggest Fredy Guarin may leave in the January window, what does his team-mate make of that? “Obviously I’d be sad, he’s a big player for us, who’s done very well. We’d be sorry to lose a player like that but we still don’t know what’s going to happen. He’s still with us and we need to make the most of him. What would I do if the club offered to sell me to raise funds? I like it here and I want to stay, but there are other factors beyond my control. Given that no one’s ever told me any differently, I’m very happy to stay.” And on his potential new deal? “I don’t worry about things like that, I just focus on playing.”

Finally, a little reminder that Inter’s last penalty came against Lazio: “Yes, that’s right (smiling). It’s something which annoys us a little. I’m not talking about referees but we have had some bad luck because we should have had penalties awarded. All credit to us then for scoring so many goals despite not winning any penalties.”