Mazzarri: “When we’re on the top of our game…”

MILAN – Walter Mazzarri previewed Inter’s match with Atalanta by analysing tomorrow’s opponents in detail during a news conference today. He said: "Atalanta play good football, they have some quality players and they’re also free of any pressure because they’ve already ensured their top-flight status. They’re tough opponents and this is a game we must approach very carefully. Atalanta are a bogey team for lots of sides. We have to perform to the best of our ability because they’ll be giving it a good go."

Speaking to the gathered media at the Stadio Meazza, the coach added: "There are no easy games in Italy. You have to respect all the teams and approach every match with the same level of concentration. We must focus first and foremost on ourselves because we’ve seen that when we’re on the top of our game we can make life difficult for anyone. We mustn’t think about anything else right now. We’ll see where we are come the end of the season.

"Where could Inter have improved? There have been times when we’ve
made the wrong choice on the edge of the box when given the
option of shooting or passing – we even did that against Verona.
It’s something we’ve sought to fix this week.

"In terms of our season, we got off to a strong start then
went through a spell when we dropped too many points by drawing games
we could have won. There are lots of reasons for it, lots of
incidents that penalised us, but in such an unusual season I think
the team’s progress can still be considered excellent. The way we end
this year will be important for us going into the next season."

Mazzarri was then asked to comment on the team’s defensive solidity: "I think the way you set the team up both when defending and attacking helps, regardless of the individual performances and how the defenders do in any given match. They all know what their jobs are.

"I believe I’ve been able to give my teams a clear playing identity over the years. It’s the team performance which is of primary importance. I’m not interested in how individuals do if it doesn’t help the team get results."

The Nerazzurri boss also fielded questions on a number of individual players.

"Ranocchia? All the lads know that it’s my job to look at what happens on the pitch and observe how they work. Andrea has performed well since coming into the side and if a player is doing well he has a good chance of keeping his place.

"Jonathan’s career has taken off? There was a time when we thought about signing him while I was at Napoli. Now he feels protected here at Inter and he’s having a great season. He needs to be pushed constantly. He must make sure he keeps doing his best.

"Nagatomo only trained with the rest of the group yesterday for the first time. I’ll take a look at him today and hopefully he’ll make the squad.

"Hernanes? He’s proof that you do need a bit of quality in there; you need quality and experience.

"How’s Juan Jesus doing while not being able to play for a few weeks? When I first came here he was a little indisciplined tactically speaking. He’s a lot more mature now and he’s been training even better since he got suspended. He’s firing on all cylinders, working harder than anyone else."