Juan Sebastian Veron believes that former club Inter are favourites for the Scudetto this season and are stronger than city rivals AC Milan.
In an interview published in today’s newspaper edition of La Gazzetta dello Sport, the ex-Argentina international midfielder offered his thoughts on Inter’s chances of retaining the Serie A title, as they sit two points behind Milan with a game in hand.
Veron argued that the return to prominence of both teams had put Milan back at the centre of the Italian footballing world, but viewed Inter as the stronger of the two and a recent dip in form as temporary.
“This derby between the two is infinite and wonderful. Inter and Milan are fighting in the league, they will face each other in the Coppa Italia and it’s a wonderful duel. We can say that Milan has finally returned as the capital of Italian football. It was about time,” he declared.
“You can’t go at 1000 miles an hour for the whole season. It is normal to have a decline, whether it is physical or mental. But the strength of the team is beyond question and this, as an ex-Interista, leaves me calm,” Veron said of Inter’s recent form.
“Inter are stronger than Milan, as a squad, in terms of individuality, and technical qualities. They are also stronger than all other potential rivals. I see a complete team in every department and consequently I believe that Inter are the main candidates for the Scudetto.
“The turning point will come (after the recent form). Have you forgotten that Inter are involved in the league, the Champions League and the Coppa Italia? Energy can drop quickly when many games are played in a short time. Players need to breathe, to rest. However, since we cannot stop now, it is a question of planning preparation correctly.
“I say Inter are favourites, because in the long term differences in quality emerge and Inter, I repeat, are stronger than Milan. But then, as you say in Italy, the ball is round.”
The Nerazzurri have recently lost to Milan and Sassuolo in Serie A, whilst their Champions League hopes hang in the balance after a 2-0 defeat in the first leg against Liverpool, causing concern amongst supporters.
“Let’s go through it in order. Inter deserved to win the derby. They lost because Milan found the winner in just a few minutes, but they were never superior.
“If anything, what can be attributed to the Nerazzurri is the fact that they did not finish off the game earlier. I always say this, and I said it even when I was playing: opponents must be killed off, in the sporting sense,” the ex-Manchester United and Chelsea midfielder claimed.
“Against Liverpool, who are one of the strongest teams in Europe, they lost, but they were not inferior. We certainly cannot expect Inter to score three or four goals against Liverpool, otherwise it means that football has suddenly changed and we have not noticed it.
“Against Sassuolo, however, the defeat is the result of the previous effort. It is normal for there to be a decrease in focus. So, the rationale for the three defeats is that they are different and there is no need to be alarmed.”
Veron’s compatriot Lautaro Martinez has struggled for goals in recent months but he insisted that the striker was just going through a tough patch and would soon turn his form around.
“There’s nothing wrong with him. Have you ever seen a centre-forward who scores in every game? If you know him, give me a call! It is clear that he is going through a moment of difficulty, but his qualities are not to be questioned.
“He is a fantastic, modern striker, good with his feet, skilled in the penalty area, and with his head. For midfielders it is always an advantage to have a player like this up front. You know where you have to put the ball, then he takes care of it. Now he is struggling a bit, but a goal is enough for him to break free.”
Martinez has looked less comfortable alongside Edin Dzeko in comparison to his partnership with Romelu Lukaku last season, but Veron argued that it was more down to the team than the pairing up front.
“I follow all of Inter’s matches and I don’t think his way of playing has changed much. Lukaku was a forward who had great power and physical strength. Dzeko is very technical, he participates more in the build up and is deadly with his head. In my opinion, Lautaro is not in trouble with Dzeko. If anything, the whole team needs to be called into question,” he added.
As a former midfielder, the ex-Lazio star offered his thoughts on the middle of the pitch and Marcelo Brozovic in particular.
“In a team you always need a thinker. But Simone also knows this well. Brozovic is the perfect metronome at Inter. He sets the movements, sews the web of passes, begins the pressing action and helps in the defensive phase.
“I’ve heard that the Nerazzurri’s problem is not having a replacement for Brozovic, but do you know someone who has the same characteristics? For the quality and quantity of the game produced, he is one of the best around in his position,” Veron concluded.