Inter director Beppe Marotta warns Lautaro Martinez ‘has still not achieved the apex of his career’ and will go from strength to strength, while the team also ‘gained maturity, confidence and determination.’
The clash with Benfica kicks off at San Siro at 20.00 UK time (19.00 GMT).
This could prove to be quite a balanced group, because the Nerazzurri only just scraped a 1-1 draw away to Real Sociedad, while 10-man Benfica were beaten at home by RB Salzburg.
However, Inter remain the favourites to top it after reaching the Champions League Final last season against Manchester City, albeit with a budget a tiny portion of their opponents.
“The group was formed some time ago, but has since gained in its maturity, confidence, courage, determination and sense of responsibility. Accompanied with the individual talents, this makes it in my view a competitive side,” Marotta told Sky Sport Italia.
Considering his extraordinary form, will Inter try to get Lautaro Martinez locked down to a new contract sooner rather than later?
“The contract is the least of our considerations. Lautaro has found this maturity in being recognised as captain and a leader with great responsibility, along with a maturity and winning mentality he has built on and off the field.
“In my view, Lautaro has still not achieved the apex of his career. I am talking about a talent, as that is what he was when he arrived, now he is a small champion who has many more years ahead of him to become a full champion. He is still very young, especially for a striker.”
Fabio Capello was in the studio and asked Marotta for his secret, especially considering Juventus rather fell apart after he left, whereas Inter gained in strength on and off the field.
“Each of us within a club has a role of responsibility to determine the strategy. We are very united off the field, we built a team that helped to forge elements that were missing, for instance the culture of victory.
“If we win the Scudetto this season, that will be the Second Star and a large part of that is having created a solid core of Italians within the squad.”
Napoli coach Rudi Garcia announced he had found a ‘council of sages’ within the squad to consult on changes, so do Inter have the same structure?
“No, because there is no need. The coach is the leader of the team, he has a continual dialogue with the players and therefore does not require a committee.”