Simone Inzaghi is confident of Inter’s chances in the upcoming Champions League final against Manchester City, highlighting how his team ‘will play our cards’ in Istanbul.
The Nerazzurri are the only thing standing between the Cityzens and a Treble, with Pep Guardiola’s side already finding victory in both the Premier League and the FA Cup. The English side are widely perceived to be the favourites for the clash at the Ataturk Stadium.
Inter last won the Champions League in 2010, capping off their own historic Treble, and are desperate to lift the trophy once against in Istanbul. Inzaghi already guided the team to two trophies this season, winning both the Coppa Italia and the Supercoppa Italiana.
Speaking to Sky Sports Italia, Inzaghi first looked ahead to the Champions League final.
“It’s a great feeling that I had said many times, we had a lot at stake in the season finale. We reasoned day after day, now we are savouring what we’ve done, but we don’t want to stop. We want to play the final in the best possible way.”
He was asked if it bothered him that Manchester City were considered the favourites for the final.
“It’s normal, they are the strongest team in the world. But there are 11 of us and 11 of them. We have had a fantastic run, we will play our cards with a lot of desire.”
The Italian coach commented on what’s needed for the Nerazzurri at the Ataturk Stadium.
“I’m fortunate to coach the players, many of whom have been to many finals. It will take a lot of heart and a lot of head, we will have to be focused because there will be difficult moments.
“We will have to have a lot of heart to be very good.”
Inzaghi then discussed the Champions League final in a press conference.
“We know tomorrow the kind of game we will have to play. City are the strongest team in the world, they’ve proved it in the matches they’ve played.
“We are proud to have come this far, we will do everything to play a game of incredible concentration. We will have to limit our mistakes and do our best.”
He was asked if the Nerazzurri’s underdog status has brought the squad together.
“Absolutely, I was also saying that to your colleagues after Turin. Tomorrow will be the 57th game for us, it’s a very long way from the first 56. We have had some difficult moments, it is in those that we have grown the most.
“We went from deserved to undeserved defeats, we put in a crazy effort and thanks to that we got to Istanbul. In the last period we had little time to think about what we had done, we had a Champions League qualification to conquer, a Coppa Italia final that we cared so much about.
“Only now are we realising what we have done, tomorrow we will fight inch by inch.”
The Italian coach touched on the midfield battle in the Champions League final.
“It will be very very important. But I think the legs, the head and the heart are very important. The legs will be needed to run, the head to be clear, the heart to find energy that in some moments you don’t think you have.”
He was aware that he and his players could enter the history books with a win in Istanbul.
“Yes, we know we have a great opportunity. We know it will be very difficult but we will try. Together is the word that brought us here and together we will try to do a feat.”
Inzaghi spoke about the pressures on him and the squad ahead of the match.
“I have the team, we are quite calm. The closer the match gets, the more the tension rises. I don’t forget the away matches in Plzen, Barcelona, Porto, Lisbon, the credit goes to the players, the extra effort we owe to the fans and the club.”
He commented on how he’s fired up the squad for this final.
“I’m lucky enough to coach a group of real men, who I wouldn’t change with anyone. The squad I have at my disposal gives me great joy, we have given it to our fans and our club.
“The lads are calm, they are training in the best possible way. We have a few sessions with Mkhitaryan and Correa, they seem close to full recovery. Tomorrow we’ll have the last training session and we’ll see.”
The Inter coach touched on his relationship with club president Steven Zhang.
“I am pleased with his words, publicly he said them yesterday, but along the way, even in the less happy moments, his words of comfort and his phone calls always gave me great strength, which I transferred to the staff.”
He skirted around answering if he’d start Romelu Lukaku or Edin Dzeko.
“Today is the last training session, yesterday Miki had his last full training session, there are good signs and then I’ll have to decide whether to use him from the start or during the game.”
Inzaghi was asked how the Nerazzurri would stop Erling Haaland.
“We know City’s strength and Haaland’s strength. He will be a special watcher, like all their players. We have prepared something, it will be all Inter who will have to be good to limit City.”
He commented on how Inter could find a way through Manchester City’s defence.
“There’s a solid defence, who’ve defended very little in the Champions League, as well as in the FA Cup. They are building up in one way and defending in another. We will try to play the game that has to be played in the final.”
The Nerazzurri coach confirmed that the players had been practicing their penalties.
“We’ve always practiced them during the year, we’ll practice them today as well, certainly there is maximum attention.”
“It’s natural, it would be important for all Italian football, for our whole movement. I am sorry for Roma and Fiorentina, who played two very good games.
“Now we are here, regardless of how our game ends I think a great goal has been achieved this year, it’s been a long time since any Italian team has reached a European final.
“We took three there and it was a wonderful achievement for Italian football.”
Inzaghi commented on if Henrikh Mkhitaryan or Marcelo Brozovic would start in the midfield.
“As far as choices are concerned, only in the last two months unfortunately I have been able to make choices. In the first five I didn’t and I think the results have shown.
“Tomorrow we’ll also assess Mkhitaryan’s condition today as he can’t be 100%, we’ll see today and decide tomorrow.”
The Italian coach discussed how the psychological preparations for this final.
“I am lucky to coach players who know how to play these games because we don’t just have players who have made the finals, but many have played important games.
“We have world and European champions. Clearly we will have to be very focused and good, manage details well because they make the difference in these matches.”