MILAN – On Saturday afternoon, Sinisa Mihajlovic spoke to the press at Milanello and previewed Sunday’s derby-day showdown at the San Siro.
Opening comments from the coach: "The derby is always a special encounter, it is a classic in world football, and for us it represents the last chance in the chase for the top positions in the table. Inter are a strong side, even if they have been struggling a bit lately. We have everything in place however to be able to beat them and we will be going for the win. We won’t be playing for a draw and we are aiming to collect all three points. Inter have been off the pace in the past 5 matches, but form counts for very little in the derby. The team that plays with the most determination and desire to win will come out on top tomorrow. We are the home team, we hope to win, but there is still a long way to go this season. A win would help in our climb up the table and be a morale booster. We struggle to kill off matches, but whoever comes up against us, meets a side that is solid and tough to beat."
Mihajlovic continued: "The joint-CEO Barbara Berlusconi is right. Based on our position right now, Europa League qualification is more realistic. Inter are 8 points ahead in the table, but we could have been closer to them and had more points by now. Inter have had that cutting edge that we have been missing. I played Balotelli in the midweek cup game because everyone is good at saying they are match-ready, but then you see out on the pitch. Balotelli and Boateng aren’t fit enough yet to play a full match. Mario is the way he is, it is stronger than him. He is a good lad who is determined, but with his attitude he isn’t always able to show that. Over time, I hope he will change it. Niang never wanted to leave and it was never in doubt. In 17 matches, we have lost just twice. We know we could have done more, but we have not done badly. At Empoli, we came away with a good result. What I was unhappy about however was the fact we were pegged back twice."
Inter have just signed Eder, a player Mihajlovic knows well from his Sampdoria days: "Eder is a great player, a fantastic signing… which I hoped would go through after the derby on Monday! Inter have made a top signing and well done to them. Eder loves the game and I am happy for him. Juventus and Napoli? They are a cut above the rest and we cannot deny that. Menez is even further behind Balotelli and Boateng. He hasn’t played in nearly a year. It will take time before he is back again from injury, but he is training with the squad. We will see whether he is part of the squad tomorrow. Luiz Adriano took a knock to the ribs, we are doing what we can to have him for the match, but he feels pain and it’s unlikely we will have him tomorrow. I don’t know what formation Mancini will play with and it’s for this reason that it’s hard to prepare for the match with Inter. However, we will be focusing above all on the way we will be playing. Honda has also played in behind the two strikers, but lately he has been playing on the right in midfield. He is a reliable member of the squad who has given good and not as good performances this season but he needs to be more decisive. In terms of his battling spirit he can improve."
Riccardo Montolivo was present at the press conference and said the following: "We need to be more consistent with our results if we want to bring the fans back to the San Siro. We all hope tomorrow is a magical night at the San Siro and with a full house. I hope we give a quality performance but with a different outcome to our first meeting with Inter earlier in the season. The match tomorrow is an opportunity for us to improve our position in the table. We will try and provide Bacca with good service tomorrow. In some matches this season we could have done better."
Ignazio Abate also joined the skipper and the coach at Milanello to preview the game: "We are ready for this match and we want the fans to be in great voice tomorrow . Character will be key to winning the match, something which we have and that we have shown this season. We need to be ambitious, but be realistic, and take things one match at a time."