Spalletti: “We must approach the game as though it were a straight knockout”


Luciano Spalletti held his traditional pre-match press conference ahead of Inter’s crucial UEFA Champions League group stage match against Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley. Here is what the 59-year-old Tuscan tactician had to say in front of the dozens of journalists in attendance:

“I heard about Pochettino’s comments, I expect that they’ll play to win. Right from the draw, we knew that we would have to knock out one of Europe’s biggest teams in order to go through. His team can change system but the manager’s influence is always there. What he says could happen, but so could the opposite.

“Inter have been waiting for many years to play in this kind of match. Our fans need to see that we’re ready to give everything to get the result. There’s a real chance to qualify, but we’ll have to go down to every drop of sweat. We’ll approach the game head-on.

“I see that the team has improved mentally and they transmit quality between one another. With the way in which they speak between each other and with their behaviour and competitiveness, they’re all becoming starters. This is the right attitude.

“Pressure doesn’t weigh on us, matches such as the one tomorrow at an iconic venue of European football throw up emotion, pressure and difficulties… but coming from San Siro, we’re used to this in matches. Pressure is the thermometer that will allow us to understand what level Inter are at. We want to keep improving on this stage.

“Tomorrow, we must approach the game as though it were a straight knockout in order to avoid running the risk that we lose control of our own destiny. That’s a risk that we don’t want to take, we want to keep moving down our road.

“We don’t have the advantage, qualification has to be earned and we need to give every last drop of sweat. We knew that from the draw but if some of my guys don’t think that it’s vital for us to get a result tomorrow, that means they’re in the wrong place. Qualification depends on the result tomorrow.

“Along with picking players, there’s the way that you conduct yourself daily and we want to go and play, build our own identity. If the opponents are better than us, then we’ll have to defend but the mentality is that we always want to have our say on a game and you can never be passive. We’ve played in Champions League matches, we’ve developed thanks to the matches with two of Europe’s best teams. We’ve taken them on and done good things.

“The pitch isn’t perfect but it’s the same for both teams and both will be playing with eleven men. There’s no time to worry about the pitch. We have players who’ve played a lot but the significance of the match tomorrow will overcome any tiredness.”

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