In this edition of Sitting Down with the Enemy, we sit down with Siavoush Fallahi, a Swedish sports journalist who is also one of the creators of SempreInter.com, which is part of the Football Collective network of team sites along with JuveFC.com. Sia spoke to us about the upcoming derby d’Italia.
Q: Roberto Mancini hasn’t immediately righted the ship at Inter, with only two wins in seven games. However, Mancini has had the upper hand versus Juventus, at least in recent outings. While last year he bested Antonio Conte in a tactical fight, he now has to compete with Max Allegri. Do you predict Mancini will be able to nullify Juve’s tactics once again?
A: I would say the situation is completely different due to various reasons. First of all when Mancini got results against Conte that was in Europe where Juve don’t have the same superior mentality as in Europe and second of all the game away against Galatasaray was very special. I mean the snow and the field made tactical preparations nearly impossible to distinguish and it was clear that an individual performance would decide the game. I think that Mancini, taking over from Mazzarri is building something mentally wise at Inter and therefore, seeing as Juventus has a far superior team Inter needs to focus on taking this game on with the right mentality. All players need to give 120% sticking to the gameplan and limit their mistakes. So more than thinking about nullifying Juve’s tactics, Inter needs to think about themselves and their game. This is the only way to build something important for the future and there’s no better game starting to do so than against the best team in the championship.
Q: Which of the Inter attack most excites you for this match, and why?
A: It’s really hard not to say Mauro Icardi seeing how he has done against Juve in his previous games. The three goals with Sampdoria and that one goal at the San Siro gives him four goals in three games against Juventus in all competitions. I was at the Meazza when Icardi scored against Juve and I actually took a five row stage dive when the goal was scored. Juve has had many “Inter killers” through out the years but Inter hasn’t really had many. Those who immediately come into mind are Julio Cruz and also surprisingly Muntari and Balotelli. In Icardi Inter has a Juve killer that they need to take care of and I’m mostly excited about seeing how Icardi will do at the Juventus Stadium.
Q: Mateo Kovacic was in excellent form before the winter break. How can Juventus stop him, and if not, is he enough to change the outcome of the match for Inter?
A: A lot of Inter’s offensive play is handled by Kovacic and when he has one of those nights he can do whatever he want. Though there’s a danger with him as well. Against Lazio he dropped the ball in dangerous positions many times but seeing as Lazio were defending with 10 men on their half, Lazio failed to punish Inter. This will not be the case against Juve since Juve won’t play with the catenaccio against Inter. This will both give Kovacic more space to operate on but it will also be more crucial if he drops the ball. Juve needs to stop Kovacic collectively and with the likes of Marchisio and Vidal on the midfield, they have everything to do so. But, one most always remember just as you guys know with Pirlo. Even though you take these players out 92 minutes of the game they will need one second of brilliance to win it in the 93rd.
Q: Which Juventus player will be the biggest danger for Inter?
A: Juve have many threats. Tevez against Ranocchia won’t be fun to watch but in these games I always tend to fear Vidal and Marchisio a lot. Vidal is a player who enjoys the biggest matches(even though he has had a slow start this season) and Marchisio always scores against Inter.
Q: What do you make of Inter’s switch to a back three as part of Mancini’s tactics? Has Mancini made any other notable changes from Mazzari’s tactics?
A: With Mazzarri’s three man defense some of the defensive flaws of our defenders were better covered. Though now with this formation and with Mancini Inter is creating something that we can rely on and improve in the future as well. Inter is very much more entertaining to watch and we actually play good football at times. Against Lazio we were dominating the whole game and in the second half we mixed posession with the right intensity and created loads of chances. I’ve always thought that this is the best way to play football and I can also see us counter attacking quickly now, something that never happened under Mazzarri’s time. Mancini’s football is a better way to go both in the longer perspective and in the shorter perspective and also the team seems to be playing with some emotions now. They have enthusiasm and show rage when we let goals in.
Q: What is the key for Inter to get a positive result from this match?
A: Score on the chances we get. Concentrate 100% all the time. Don’t be afraid.