Former Inter striker Jurgen Klinsmann believes that Inter’s current squad are impressive, and that they will be able to rise to the occasion in tomorrow’s Milan derby.
Speaking to Milan-based newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport in an interview published in today’s print edition, the German gave his views on some members of the current Nerazzurri squad, and singled out midfielder Nicolo Barella in particular for praise.
The Milan derby is one of the showpiece occasions of Italian football no matter the circumstances, and this season’s will be no different.
The match is always widely anticipated no matter the circumstances in the table, but as with the past couple seasons it is even more significant due to the implications at the top of the Serie A table.
Inter are seven points behind the Rossoneri, who are level of points with Napoli at the top of the table, and the derby will represent a major opportunity for the Nerazzurri to make up ground as well as being a massive occasion in and of itself.
Of his memories of the derby, Klinsmann said that “It was a show: the stadium was full, but, at the time, if there had been 500,000 seats, all the tickets would have sold anyway. And you could feel it. There was electricity in the city. Once, in the week of the derby, the operator at the toll booth stopped to talk to me and charge me before the match against Milan.”
“Behind me a line of cars was created,” he went on, “many honking their horns annoyed because they did not understand what was happening. The operator, however, did not raise the bar to let me pass until I promised him that I would score. The Milan derby is the highest expression of Italian football in terms of technique, passion and ambition. Immersing yourself in that atmosphere was exciting.”
On the emotions of the occasion he said that “It is inevitable. I am still an Inter fan. I have several friends who will be at the stadium. I hope with all my heart that Inter win. I know that for the fans it is a very important game. It is the main topic for weeks, both beforehand and then after. The derby dominates the city. And now that, unlike what has happened in the last then years, both teams have levelled up, there is even more electricity.”
Of the current Inter side, Klinsmann stated that “Simone Inzaghi is an excellent coach. He did very well with Lazio, I think Inter are in good hands. I was disappointed with Lukaku’s decision to leave. I thought he would have wanted to play in the Champions League as a champion of Italy.”
“Even the sale of Hakimi is significant,” he went on. “Dzeko and Correa, however, have fitted in very well. Edin is someone I’ve always respected. He transmits great calm, confidence. Correa is younger, has excellent technical ability. The heart of the team however, Handanovic, De Vrij, Barella, Lautaro, remained intact and this is important when a new coach arrives. I have a passion for a particular player.”
For the player he speaks of, Klinsmann named “Barella. He is exceptional. His performances, both with Inter and with the national team, are incredible. Also thanks to him, as well as to Bastoni, another interesting young man, the team can continue to grow.”
Asked whether Barella is similar to Lothar Matthaus he stated that “Lothar was unique. He ran a lot, he was dynamic, he had a very powerful shot, he had a lot of charisma. Barella plays at a very high level and continues to grow. I like him because he is composed, even in front of goal. He is always lucid, but I think they are two players. different, even physically.”
On strikers that remind him of himself as a player, Klinsmann stated that “It is not for me to say. But surely Dzeko and Correa are very different from me. The one who most resembles me is Lautaro.”
And on who he expects the favourite to be in the derby tomorrow, the German stated that “I think there really is absolute balance. Milan have taken in Ibrahimovic, who gives confidence to the whole team. Inter, who won in the Champions League, are finding continuity. The episodes will be decisive.”