Parma v Inter Match Preview
1 Julio Cesar, 12 Luca Castellazzi, 21 Paolo Orlandoni;
4 Javier Zanetti, 6 Lucio, 15 Andrea Ranocchia, 23 Marco Materazzi, 26 Cristian Chivu, 37 Marco Davide Faraoni, 55 Yuto Nagatomo;
5 Dejan Stankovic, 10 Wesley Sneijder, 14 Houssine Kharja, 17 MacDonald Mariga, 19 Esteban Cambiasso, 20 Joel Obi, 29 Philippe Coutinho;
7 Giampaolo Pazzini, 9 Samuel Eto’o, 22 Diego Milito, 27 Goran Pandev.
“We’ll have to manage our energy levels well because we can still have a say in things. Nothing has changed for me: I’m here just as I was on the first day, looking to get results. As for us getting knocked out of Europe, we were right to believe in the comeback but for it to happen certain things needed to come about during the game – the spark that I mentioned the other day didn’t come,” continued the Nerazzurri coach.
Leonardo was then asked what had to be done on a psychological level to keep morale up, starting with tomorrow’s game against a very motivated side. “Parma need to win this game and they have experienced players but our team know how to overcome difficult moments like this and can find the right balance – psychologically too. We had that against Schalke but it was a normal game when it needed to be an extraordinary one. Against Parma we will certainly have to be very careful.”
What of Leonardo’s future and Inter’s future? “I’m only thinking about the six league games and the Coppa Italia,” replied Leonardo. I’m not the sort of person who worries about getting criticised; in fact sometimes criticism gives you more freedom of choice. In any case now is not the time to start analysing the future: we have games to worry about and to play.”
There was a word on Yuto Nagatomo’s performances: “Nagatomo has done really well, also in situations that weren’t easy: he’s confirmed what we expected from him.” A Japanese journalist commented on the fact that Japan have decided to take part in the Copa América in Argentina in July, and asked about the effect that may have on preparations for next season. Leonardo replied: “It’s important for all the players to be involved in their team’s pre-season preparations, and the Copa América will partially overlap with that, but it’s an official tournament and there’s not much we can do about it, apart from be careful to deal with his energy levels afterwards. However, that’s not only the case for Nagatomo but for lots of our South-American players too.”
There was then an explanation for the decision to leave Esteban Cambiasso out of the team to face Schalke: “Often people confuse the absolute value of a player with the needs of a particular moment. I’m not saying I’m always right but I always try to do what I think is best for a particular game. Cambiasso has played both in front of the defence and wide in a three-man midfield lots of times. So has Thiago Motta. Stankovic can play anywhere in midfield, as can other midfielders such as Kharja and Mariga. It’s the situation of a certain game that determines your choices.”
What are Inter’s chances of winning the league? “Anything can happen, although we are dependent on the results of others, on other sides slipping up. What we have to do is think about ourselves, and if others do slip up then we must do our best to take advantage. We’re only thinking about playing football, about playing our games normally, without letting anything else affect us and without worrying about things.”
What will be the most important factor from now until the end of the season: the coach’s influence, luck or the players’ determination? “All of the above,” said Leonardo. “We need all of those things, and to be able to handle them all well.”
To end with, there was a question about El Clasico between Real Madrid and Barcelona, which is set to take place four times over the next few weeks in Spain and in the Champions League: “I have a soft spot for Real Madrid,” the coach admitted, “and I hope that Kakà will soon be able to enjoy some success after his difficult spell out injured. However, the football Barcelona play is fantastic to watch.”