Inter head coach Simone Inzaghi expects that Nicolo Barella and Samir Handanovic will be back in the team on the weekend despite having been left out for the 2-0 Champions League defeat to Bayern Munich.
Speaking in a press conference after the match, as reported by FCInterNews, the coach explained that the pair’s absence was nothing more than squad rotation and was not meant to send a message to either of them.
Inter went into the match against Bayern with an eye-catching number of changes to their squad, five in total from the team that started the Milan derby against AC Milan on Saturday.
Barella and Handanovic were notable absences, with the likes of Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Andre Onana respectively making their first starts in a Nerazzurri shirt in place of the two of them, whilst neither came on as a substitute either.
The fact that the pair were left out for such an important match was always going to be seen as significant, but Inzaghi downplayed it as just reflecting the need to use his entire squad over the course of the season.
“It was a choice I made,” he said of Barella’s absence. “I decided to give him a break, he’s also been dealing with a bit of a knock since the start of the season even though he’s a generous guy and he always wants to play.”
“Tonight I wanted to save him,” the coach continued, “then when it was 1-0 I was about to put him on, but then we conceded the second goal, and I decided to let him continued to rest. I think he’ll be back on Saturday.”
Of the difficult moment in form that the team are going through, with this being their third loss of the season after just six matches played, Inzaghi said that “We have to start again. Tonight we played with intensity in the first twenty minutes after Saturday’s match.”
“Then the one real moment of carelessness from us in the half saw us concede a goal,” he noted. “Sane scored a great goal. In the second half we could have equalized based on what we created, but we missed too many chances whereas they didn’t, that’s the difference.”
“Neuer and Onana made the same number of saves, but we lost 2-0,” the coach rued. “We wanted to do better but we came up against the best team in Europe. We could have done more but Bayern are clearly a very, very tough opponent to have to face.”
As far as whether he was trying to send a message with his squad rotations, Inzaghi said that “No message. I’m the coach and I have to make a lot of choices every day, playing every three days.”
“In just over 48 hours we’ll be back on the pitch, so there’s no message being sent, just choices,” he reiterated. “I’ve decided to rest players who I think will be back on Saturday.”
As far as whether he expects the selection of Andre Onana to become permanent over that of captain Samir Handanovic in goal, the coach responded “Absolutely not. The choice will depend on the matches, Handanovic will play on Saturday.”
And when asked if he feels that the performance against Bayern represented a step backwards compared to some of Inter’s performances against top European opposition last season, the coach replied unequivocally, “No, absolutely not.”
“They were similar matches, because tonight I got the feeling that we can hurt these top teams, even though we didn’t succeed,” he suggested. “We created some good moments but perhaps we were a bit too hurried. However, I think it was similar to the matches from last season.”