APPIANO GENTILE – "I have a lot of respect for AC Milan. They were playing better than Roma last week before they fell behind. They’re an improving side." Walter Mazzarri wanted to put it on record from the start that tomorrow’s derby will be a fiery encounter, as the derby between Inter and Milan always is.
The Nerazzurri coach was in no mood for handing the opposition any sort of advantage either, and he deflected all attempts to tease details about his team selection out of him: "I don’t think Seedorf said who he’s going to field so why should I?" he replied to the journalists’ probing with a smile.
"Jonathan is one of the doubts I might have in my mind. I need to work out how fit he is. I’ll leave it late before deciding who I think is the best option to go with from the off.
"Andreolli? It’s important that after a year in which he’s hardly played he was able to turn in the performance he did. Then when it comes to picking the team I have to look at form and consistency. He’s taken a step closer to the others performance-wise and that’s important with next season in mind.
Guarin? When you have a squad of a certain level you need to rotate. I look at the period, form, the team as a whole, and there are natural choices. Alvarez is ok but I don’t know how long he’s got in him.
"Nagatomo has been performing well, he’s looked good. I hope he’s on his game because when he is he brings us quality and running."
So who stands to lose most in this derby? That was another question put to Mazzarri. "It’s not something I’ve asked myself. I’m just trying to give the best advice I can so that we can play at our best."
On the pre-derby atmosphere: "You do sense the adrenaline in the build-up to the derby but it doesn’t affect how we work. Emotionally it’s always different and, if I get the chance to play lots of them, it will always be different."
Looking to the future, Mazzarri added that, "You draw your conclusions at the end. We have three games left and they’re all important." Conclusions about the team, about himself and about the players individually, he explained when asked about expiring contracts. "With the management we’ve decided to wait until the end of the season before assessing things. Once we’ve played the last game we’ll look at everything."
The coach was also asked whether Mauro Icardi deserves his ‘bad boy’ tag. "I find it stimulating to work with lads who aren’t just ordinary, I enjoy chatting to them. Since he’s been training again regularly he’s been very professional every time he comes through the gates of the training ground."
Mazzarri also commented on Massimo Moratti and Handy Soetedjo’s visit to Appiano Gentile yesterday: "It’s a good thing when you have everyone pulling in the same direction at a club. I think their visit did us good. The team sees the club is united and behind us."