On the eve of the Coppa Italia final at 21:00 CEST at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome, the squad took part in the final training session before flying to the Italian capital. Coach Simone Inzaghi was joined by captain Samir Handanovic to answer questions ahead of the final.
How are you feeling ahead of the final?
“We’re already very proud to be here for such an important game. I don’t think there are any special recipes for winning finals. You need to run hard, be determined and focused. We’ll have to give 120% to lift our second trophy of the season.”
How important is this for you?
“It’s important for everyone, not just me. Along with the staff, we know how much progress we’ve made and where we’ve come from. We’ve doing well and that’s thanks to the squad and the lads. Our expectations have been raised. The future is tomorrow and we have to try to win. Then there are the remaining league fixtures. Thinking back to the day of my unveiling on 8 July last year, we’ve done an incredible job. I wouldn’t have expected all this back on that day.”
What do you expect from your team?
“Fine margins will make the difference. We know Juventus well. We’ve faced them three times this year. There’ll be so much quality on the pitch, so we’ll have to produce a good performance and manage the different phases of the game.”
You’ve picked up a record points tally in your first year at Inter, while winning the Italian Super Cup, reaching the Coppa Italia final and competing for the Scudetto, but all that could be clouded over by the last few league games. What do you think about that?
“I owe everything to the team, as the players have always backed me. It’s been a brilliant season. It’s match number 50 now. We played wonderful football for seven or eight months, but then suffered a dip and dropped some points, but if I think back to how we played against Liverpool and the way we’ve reached the final, I have no bad words to say about the team.”
How hard is it to focus purely on the Coppa Italia with the way the Serie A title race is going?
“That’s something we’ve spoken about. It probably would’ve been better to play the final at the end of the Serie A campaign, but the structure was set out at the start of the year. I’ve been involved in finals as a player and as a coach, and I don’t think it’s a problem to play just before the end of the league season.”
What’s the winning recipe?
“It doesn’t exist. We’ll have to be focused, run hard and be determined. We know who we’re up against. Fine margins will be decisive.”
There are no favourites in finals, but you’ve been better than Juventus this season. Does that give you confidence?
“We’ve faced them three times this season, with all three games being different from a tactical standpoint. I’m expecting an open game. We’ll need to play as well as we can and avoid mistakes. The match will be decided by fine margins.”
Inter have reacted well to falling behind so many times. What sort of approach are you expecting?
“Every game is different from others. It’s not an exact science. All you need on the pitch is heart and this team has shown that we always have that. We’ve only lost six out of 49 matches and we didn’t deserve to lose all of them.”
How does it feel to be back at the Stadio Olimpico, a ground that you know well?
“I was at the Olimpico for 21 years. I know everything and everyone. I’ll get to see so many people who treated me well and looked after me. I’m so proud to be the Inter coach. It’s such a massive club.”
How have you prepared for the final?
“We need to be hungry. We wanted to win the Italian Super Cup no matter what. We’ve been working so hard these last few days.”
The whole world will be tuning in. Inter fans have arranged a parade and the choreography will be incredible, with Lazio fans helping out as well. What sort of atmosphere are you expecting?
“I’ve coached Lazio and Inter. The fan bases are twinned and really get behind their teams. We’ve always felt that support at home and away. Take the game in Udine, which was a tough one, but they really got behind us and provided incredible support.”
Is Alessandro Bastoni fully fit? What will you base your choices on?
“The choices will all be made based purely on the Coppa Italia. I have everyone available except Matias Vecino, who picked up a problem in training. He’ll be out for three to four days so he won’t be involved. Bastoni is fit. He’s had one-and-a-half training sessions with the squad. He’ll be assessed tomorrow morning to check how his muscle has recovered. There aren’t just doubts over him in terms of selection. We’ll decide tomorrow after a short morning training session.”
How important is Hakan Calhanoglu to your team?
“He’s had a brilliant season and settled in straight away. He’s made a huge jump forward in terms of quality and also the shifts that he puts in, as he covers so much ground. He wants to work hard and is a very positive influence in the squad.”