Mancini: ‘Inter-Juve message’

Roberto Mancini said the performance against Juventus “tells Inter if we can stay up there” in the Scudetto race.

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“As of today, Fiorentina are the favourites as they are top of the table. We are currently second,” said Mancini in his Press conference.

Roberto Mancini said the performance against Juventus “tells Inter if we can stay up there” in the Scudetto race.

It kicks off on Sunday at 19.45 UK time (18.45 GMT), click here for a match preview.

“As of today, Fiorentina are the favourites as they are top of the table. We are currently second,” said Mancini in his Press conference.

“It is a long campaign and we are sure the strongest teams will get back into the fight for the title. I always said Napoli, Juve and Roma were better equipped for the Scudetto. We’ve started the season well, we are up there and want to fight to the end. That is our objective.

“Tomorrow’s game will be important, but not decisive. A victory would give us a lot of enthusiasm and that is an important element for any team going forward.”

Who is under more pressure at San Siro, Inter or Juventus?

“Juve have won the last four Scudetti and are recovering some players as well as form, so naturally it’s an important game.

“We will all be concentrated to the max and so I expect a strong start. How it’ll end, I don’t know. This performance against Juventus can tell us if we can stay up there for the rest of the campaign. It must help our self-belief.

“There are another 31 rounds left, I doubt there’s a team that will win every single game. There are several sides in great shape at the moment, there will be more defeats and victories for everyone.

“Roma, Napoli and Juve are behind us, so there is some truth in the idea we’re more light-hearted and that would be perfect, but we are fully concentrated too.

“Clearly it would be difficult for Juventus if they lost and were 11 points behind us, plus seven or eight points behind other title contenders. It’d be trickier for them to make up the lost ground. Of course, Juve are a strong side and can notch up a series of positive results in future. They are also in Europe, so it’d be tough, but they are capable of it.”

Mancini was asked about Geoffrey Kondogbia being perhaps tactically naïve in recent outings.

“I don’t think Geoffrey has any particular tactical problems. We can improve and work on the 4-2-3-1 system when we get to play and train more regularly.

“I don’t have any problems with Kondogbia. I’ve always said he’s a great player, I believe in him, but he’s only been in Serie A for a couple of months, so he needs time to settle.

“We kept a high line against Fiorentina and Sampdoria, so clearly you are going to run a few risks, but we know that’s a risk we have to take if we want to control the game and play attacking football.

“When the other team scores goals they did well, but we also made some mistakes. The problem is allowing the full-back to reach the by-line and cross, as we should’ve done something before then.

“We lost Joao Miranda and Jeison Murillo at different times, so they rarely got the chance to play together in defence.

“I have a couple of doubts, mainly to see how the internationals have recovered from their games, so I’ll evaluate everyone today and tomorrow. Gary Medel arrived yesterday, so he is one of those being evaluated.

“Stevan Jovetic worked in the last three training sessions, so he’s feeling much better.”

Mancini was asked whether Juan Jesus or Alex Telles would play at left-back.

“There’s Yuto Nagatomo too. The answer is I don’t know. That is one of the doubts.

“Last season we had a game against Juventus that looked impossible to lose – and yet we lost it. When Juve take one player off, they introduce another of equal quality.

“Obviously if you leave spaces at the back for the counter against Juventus, the way we did against Samp, you’re going to have problems.

“We gifted Fiorentina four goals and now hope to be a little more stingy. We try to play and create chances, we need to improve when attacking to convert more of our opportunities, as it’s not easy to always win 1-0.

“Will our recent form be enough tomorrow? That depends on how Juve play. If we stay concentrated and allow little, the way we did in the first four rounds, then we can get something.

“Paulo Dybala and Alvaro Morata are young, but very talented, while Juan Cuadrado brought the change of pace they needed and Paul Pogba is one of the best midfielders in the world. All their players are above the norm.”

Inter haven’t beaten Juventus since 2010, so does the Derby d’Italia feel different this season?

“There’s a lot of focus around this game, we’re near the top of the table, so that gives an extra sensation to it compared to recent seasons. I hope the thing that does change is the result.”

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