By Anna Italia
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Inter – Napoli
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Serie A Standing BEFORE the game:
Inter, 5th position with 56 points and a positive goal difference of +22
Napoli, 3rd position with 68 points and a positive goal difference of +28
Disciplinary Situation: 2 suspended players for INTER: Samuel (1), Rolando (1)
1 suspended player for NAPOLI: Fernandez (1)
Here are the declarations by Inter coach Walter Mazzarri during the press conference on Friday 25 April 2014 ahead of the Serie A Week 35 game, Inter vs Napoli to be played on Saturday 26, April 2014 at the Giuseppe Meazza Stadium at 20:45.
Mazzarri saying, “It’ll be a difficult game. They are an exceptional side, as their league position suggests. It will be an important test for us. We’ll have to play well, something we always try to do and, come the final whistle, see whether we’ve done well and come away with a positive result.”
“How is it that we haven’t been able to win three games in a row? I’m not really a fan of looking at statistics, as anything that hasn’t happened up until now can happen at any time. I just look at the way my players have trained in the week, how fit they look, what sort of form we’re in. There’s always something we can work on and put right. I don’t think we are consistent enough during the 90 minutes, so that’s something we need to work on. This is a particularly unusual season, and we have to stay on top of these things. There’s no doubt we can play better than we have been in our previous two games, when we’ve offered almost no resistance to the opposition for a quarter of an hour. We don’t kill games off when we have the chance. That’s happened a lot of times this season. We do work on it in training and sometimes we do improve, but then we fall back into the same trap.”
In the game earlier in the season Guarin was one of the best players on the pitch, even if the result didn’t go Inter’s way: “People only look at the result when coming to conclusions. You won’t know my final team selection until tomorrow. We still have one more training session before the game. The spirit I’ve tried to get across all season is that whoever starts a game and does well deserves to keep his place in the side. I think I’ve been clear enough about that. It’s true that I also take training into consideration, especially with the players who hadn’t started the week before, but my starting eleven from the previous game has priority, especially when the side wins. Above anything else, the result matters.
“Andreolli? He’s fine. He’s trained well and I’ll check on his fitness today. I believe we can name three fit defenders.
“I’ve never been sacked? I never take anything for granted! [He smiles]. Have I ever made a complete mess of a season? Ask me that question after the Chievo game.
“Would I shake hands with De Laurentiis if I were to meet him before the game? I’m always fully focused on the match, but I don’t have a problem greeting people I’ve worked with. I was coach at Napoli for four seasons. I worked hard for the company. I achieved lots there. I felt at home and my work was appreciated. When someone changes job, perhaps the reason why isn’t completely understood, but four fantastic years can’t just be forgotten that easily.
“Does D’Ambrosio have problems adapting to my instructions and the way I want him to play? It’s not a question of instructions as such, every coach has his own idea of how football should be played and I want my wide players to do certain things, things that perhaps other coaches don’t ask. New signings can take slightly longer to understand exactly what I expect from them. But he played well against Parma. He was substituted when the score was 1-0, but he was doing well. He can improve when pushing forward, the way I want him to play, and he knows that.
“Jonathan? He’s always done well. Unfortunately he’s been sidelined due to injury. Today I’ll decide whether he’s fit enough to play. He’s still slightly worried about his injury, but yesterday he rested and I’ll take another look at him today and decide whether he or D’Ambrosio starts.
“How can we close the gap to the sides ahead of us? As I said earlier, certain questions, such as how to close the gap or how successful a season this has been, can only, as far as I’m concerned, be answered at the end of the season. But the facts speak for themselves: not having beaten the top three clubs is part and parcel of that. Top teams are always difficult to beat. Let’s hope we manage it tomorrow for the first time this season.
“What can these last few games of the season tell us about Inter? I’d say exactly what the rest of season has been able to say about us: it’s a chance to make assessments and try to finish the season as high up the table as possible. Claiming as many points as possible irrespective of the performance on the pitch: if we look back at our results this year, we can safely say that we’ve picked up a lot fewer points than our performances have deserved. We need to make the step up in quality that will allow us to plan for the coming seasons. That’s basically the point of this season now. Everyone likes to win, finishing as high up the table as possible for the fans, especially as we’ve claimed some good wins yet also, inexplicably, just when we needed to make that step up, put in some strange performances, claiming draws or suffering a home defeat. I want to take things slowly now. Tomorrow I have another opportunity to come to a lot of conclusions and plan for the future. For example, how the players react in games against the top teams.
“Did I appreciate the comments made by Thohir? I like what we say when we meet face-to-face. As he’s the man at the top he also speaks to everyone else. It’s pleasing but I took it for granted. I’m happy when he says these things to me in person.
“Take one Napoli player out of their side? No, irrespective of who they start with, all their players are good. They have a lot of choice: they are good at breaking on the counter-attack, have a lot of quality, have no problem scoring goals or creating dangerous situations. We’ll have to do well to try and get the game to go our way.
“Did I find it harder in my first season at Napoli or my first season at Inter? The circumstances are different, even if there are a lot of similarities. When I took over there, I took charge of a side seventh from bottom in the table. Here, I took charge following a period of change at the club, a change of ownership and a lot of players coming to the end of their contracts. They’ve really been two stimulating seasons for me as a coach: when facing difficulties you can really gauge whether you’re a coach who is able to keep things together, even when times get tough. But my season at Napoli was an important one for me and for my career.
“From the close of the transfer window to now all we hear are rumours, just rumours. Icardi is developing as a player and doing well. He knows that. I’ll let the people who deal with our transfers talk about transfer dealings, in keeping with the decisions made by the club.
“Fourth place? I take every game as it comes. We’ll try to give our all tomorrow. We need to claim as many points as possible and then make our conclusions at the end of the season. At the moment we don’t have a specific goal, but, as far as I’m concerned, we never had one this season anyway.
“Do I want to achieve that little bit more at Inter than I did at Napoli? We have to be and you should be more focused on the relationship between investments, results, financial caps and other things: everything is relative, that’s part of football too. Then, if someone is doing better on the pitch than others are, so be it. But let’s not forget that, aside from motivation, tactics and the ability of a coach, it’s the players who take to the pitch and we also we need to evaluate them according to precise parameters, not hastily made assessments as is often the case in this world.
“Have I already spoken to club officials about what Inter have been missing this season and what needs to be done to address that? I report things back every time I’m asked to by the president, the general manager and the sporting director. We can safely say I do that every week, after every game. It is part of the job we’re here to do. There are still four games to gather important information from, but whatever we discuss will stay between us. They know I’m experienced and have clear ideas. In four years at Napoli we saw an improvement in a lot of things, in results, in performance. I know what to tell my bosses when it comes to planning future projects, while at the same time keeping everything in line with the club’s potential and decisions already made for by the hierarchy.
“A word on the comments made by the players and their performance in Parma game? I’m pleased that the players said what they said. After Parma I was the first to say what I didn’t like about our performances over our previous two games. They’re following the mentality I’m trying to instil in the club, to never be completely satisfied, even when you win away from home. We won 2-0 at Parma, but Napoli lost there, Juventus won there in slightly strange circumstances and Fiorentina drew there. Going to Parma and winning isn’t easy for anyone. This season almost everyone has gone there and found it tough. We were one of the clubs who have struggled least and come away with a good result.
“When a player is sent off it’s because he’s committed a foul: it means that the other team has put him in a position where he commits a foul. We conceded a penalty after 15 minutes against Parma, and that Cassano penalty was Parma’s only chance of the game. After that, we were more dangerous than they were and immediately created two or three great chances to score – when Cambiasso hit the post, for example. We mustn’t forget that we did play well, even though in the dressing room after the final whistle I reminded the players that, against 10 men, we should really be making sure of the points a lot sooner than we did.
“Kovacic? He’s matured a lot this season, as I hoped. That’s why I started him. He did well to help the team as much as he did. It’s no coincidence that the side has picked up vital points, as he’s done well and worked hard. My next comment is meant for him, but also Icardi and everyone else. As we saw from the Bayern game the other night, in top-flight European football when sides need forwards to help out in defence they do so: we saw Ribery and Robben both dropping back to in front of their own penalty area. Football has become ‘total’, every single player has to know how to attack and defend, otherwise you can lose against anyone. Everyone has to understand that, and Mateo has.
“I’ve tried two different defensive tactics which we can switch between during the game: one a four-man defence with Cambiasso playing in a defensive midfield role and one where he is able to drop back into defence. We’ll see how we start tomorrow. Perhaps we’ll switch during the game. But he’s such a versatile and intelligent player that he can play either role.
“My players are fully aware of the way I like to play football. At Napoli, for example, we were in control of the game despite playing with 10 men. We lost because we were caught on the counter-attack three times. It’s important to me that my players know what they have to do and what I want them to do every time they walk onto the pitch. We can clearly see that when teams play in European competitions. A side that wants to beat the top clubs, just as Mourinho’s Inter side wanted to beat top clubs, has to have forwards prepared to sacrifice themselves for the side, even when they needed to break on the counter-attack to win games. That’s football. Team spirit, a common belief and organisation are all crucial to achieving your objective.”
Click the video to watch the declarations by Inter coach Walter Mazzarri during the press conference on Friday 25 April 2014 at the Centro Sportivo Angelo Moratti in Appiano Gentile on the eve of Inter vs Napoli.
Inter – Napoli
Saturday 26 April 2014
Giuseppe Meazza Stadium
Assistants: NICOLETTI – MARRAZZO
Fourth Official: GHIANDAI