Mazzarri calls for Inter to remain grounded after Parma win

The Italian coach says his side must prepare for their difficult upcoming matches against Roma, AC Milan and Lazio

Inter coach Walter Mazzarri has demanded his team refrain from getting carried away as their qualification for the Europa League next season looks certain.

The Serie A giants moved five points clear in fifth with a 2-0 win at a 10-man Parma on Saturday through second half strikes from Rolando and Fredy Guarin.

For the second match in a row, Inter goalkeeper Samir Handanovic saved a penalty, and his terrific save to deny Antonio Cassano just before the break with the score at 0-0 swung the match in his side’s favour.

Mazzarri was quick to praise the Slovenia goalkeeper afterwards, but also called on his side to keep their eyes on the prize.

“Handanovic did superbly, he prepares for penalties thoroughly,” the former Napoli boss told Inter’s official website.

“I’m pleased for Guarin, he really deserves it. I want more from this team.

“We have three tremendous games coming up against Napoli, the derby [against AC Milan] and Lazio, and then Chievo on the final day – and it’s never easy to take points off teams scrapping at the bottom.

“We have to keep concentrating on each game as it comes.”

Handanovic echoed his manager’s thoughts, adding: “The penalty was an important moment in the match.

“We won, but some very tough games are coming. Nothing’s been decided yet. We have to stay focused.”

Goalscorer Rolando said that advice from coaches and team-mates saw him play a more active role at set-pieces – something that paid dividends when he nodded in Hernanes’ 48th-minute free-kick.

Rolando told Inter Channel: “It was a tough game but we played a good game and showed we’re a team that should be playing in Europe.

“It’s the hard work in training that’s paying off. They told me to move up and I’d score, since I hadn’t done it in a while.

“I’m happy, but the important thing is finding the right way to help out the team.”

Parma 0-2 Inter: Nerazzurri see off rivals to boost Europa League hopes

Samir Handanovic provided some trademark penalty heroics as Inter edged 10-man Parma 2-0 to strengthen their grip on fifth in Serie A.

Handanovic’s reputation as a penalty expert has continued to rise since arriving at Inter in 2012, and he saved a spot-kick for the second straight game on Saturday.

The Slovenian kept out Maxi Lopez in last week’s 4-0 win over Sampdoria and he repeated the trick at Parma, tipping Antonio Cassano’s penalty onto the post on the stroke of half-time at Stadio Ennio Tardini.

Gabriel Paletta was sent off for a second yellow card in the first minute of the second half and Hernanes’ free-kick that followed was headed in by Rolando.

The defender nodded home unmarked and the goal will have done his hopes of sealing a permanent switch from Porto no harm after voicing his wish for a transfer in the game’s build-up.

Substitute Fredy Guarin wrapped up the points with a late long-range stunner as Inter moved five points clear of the Parma in the race for Europa League qualification.

Cassano, returning from an ankle injury, was tenacious in front of the onlooking Italy boss Cesare Prandelli, forcing a superb save from Handanovic before shooting wide with his left foot after Cristian Molinaro had surged down the left wing.

Inter gradually worked themselves into the game and Mauro Icardi should have opened the scoring, only to put his free header into the side netting after Hernanes’ corner.

Rodrigo Palacio then had a fierce volley tipped over by Parma goalkeeper Antonio Mirante and he continued to impress, keeping out a 20-yard effort from Esteban Cambiasso.

The flashpoint of the first half would come with just three minutes left, as a heavy first touch saw Walter Samuel, already booked in the sixth minute, bring down Marco Parolo in the penalty area.

Handanovic was Inter’s hero again though, tipping Cassano’s penalty onto the post, and Raffaele Palladino could only turn the rebound wide.

And there was still time for Inter to be denied by the woodwork as well, as Cambiasso, following up a blocked shot, struck a wicked left-foot effort from outside the area that hit the inside of the post and then Mirante’s legs, leaving the veteran perplexed as the ball snuck out for a corner.

The visitors’ hopes of mounting a comeback were dashed as Paletta received his second yellow card for a lunge on Palacio in the 46th minute, and Inter took the lead from the resulting free-kick.

Slack marking from the Parma defence allowed Rolando, free at the back post, the simple task of heading Hernanes’ ball back across the face of goal and in.

The woodwork would again keep out both sides, with Hernanes hitting the outside of the post with a free-kick before Parma’s Alessandro Lucarelli – who powerfully rose above Samuel and Rolando – saw his header thud into the bar.

Parma kept pressing, as Parolo volleyed over, but Inter’s numerical advantage would eventually make a difference, as Guarin lashed a 25-yard strike into the bottom-left corner to extend his side’s unbeaten run to five.

Rolando eager to stay at Inter

The on-loan Porto defender would relish the chance to make his stay in Serie A permanent, but has set his sights on securing European football before discussing his future

Portuguese defender Rolando wants to remain at Inter beyond the 2013-2014 Serie A season.

The 28-year-old Portugal international, who spent the second half of last season on loan at Napoli, has been an ever-present in the heart of Inter’s defence this season after sealing a summer loan switch from Porto.

With Walter Mazzarri’s men close to securing European football for next season, Rolando is eager to make his stay in Italy permanent.

“I’m happy with how I’ve played this season,” Rolando told Inter Channel. “Some had doubts about me but I knew that I could show my quality.

“Now we need to think about getting into Europe, then we’ll think about my future.

“I am very happy here and I would like to stay.”

Inter are in action on Saturday, facing sixth-placed Parma at the Stadio Ennio Tardini.

Only two points separate the two teams and Rolando knows three points against Roberto Donadoni’s high flyers would go a long way to qualifying for next season’s Europa League.

“We need consistency following the win in Genoa against Sampdoria,” Rolando said.

“We are expecting a very difficult match when we play Parma. They are doing well but we want to take the three points home.

“I think it’s always easier to play at home than away. However, given that Inter are a big team, other teams come to San Siro to defend so it’s more difficult to find spaces.”

Inter end the season with games against Napoli, AC Milan, Lazio and Chievo, while Parma face Cagliari, Sampdoria, Torino and Livorno in their remaining fixtures.

Send him to Atletico: Inter and Italian football better off without shameless Icardi

The young Argentine has caused more than enough consternation since his move to Lombardy, and the opportunity to sell gives the Nerazzurri a quick way out of an unwanted situation

By Kris Voakes | International Football Correspondent

It should have been one of the pinnacles in his young career. Mauro Icardi netted two goals last Sunday as Inter’s 4-0 victory at Sampdoria provided a real statement as to the Nerazzurri‘s credentials in a fiercely-contested race for Europa League qualification.

But the baggage which came with Icardi’s performance and his brazen approach to the long-awaited head-to-head between he and love rival Maxi Lopez left a sour taste in many a football fan’s mouth. News this week that Atletico Madrid are preparing a bid for the 21-year-old could not have come at a better time for Inter.

Icardi’s story is now well known, having filled the gossip columns in Italy for many a month. The striker is engaged to Wanda Nara, the ex-wife of former Samp team-mate Lopez, and while the situation itself is an understandable one, the behaviour of Icardi and Nara has left much to be desired.

In a horrible situation, Lopez has dealt with his emotions superbly well in the public sphere. “It has been a very difficult time in my life and I cried a lot,” he admitted recently. “But it all passed thanks to football. It was not a normal break-up, but at the end of the day nobody died.

“All I want now is to spend time with my children. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll face Icardi on the field and we’ll have a good laugh about it.”

Icardi and Nara | Their constant publication of photos has left Lopez in a spin

Meanwhile, Icardi has been busy flaunting his love for Nara on social media. The pair have had tattoos of each other’s names daubed on their bodies, have constantly taken to Twitter and Instagram to make public their feelings – and their lack of respect for Lopez shines through all the while.

The Doria front man has recently had to publicly ask Icardi to stop posting pictures of him and Nara with Lopez’s three children. The lovebirds also caused a stir when Wanda released a photograph on Instagram of her fiance’s naked body hidden only by a towel, calling the snap a ‘selfie after sex’.

But last Sunday Icardi jumped feet first into the eye of the storm. He scored twice, his side won 4-0, and Lopez had a penalty saved by Samir Handanovic after insisting on taking the duties from regular spot-kick taker Eder in a bid to recover some self-esteem. Icardi had won. He had done his job well, and had got one over his former friend to boot.

Yet his behaviour during and since the entire episode has been nothing short of despicable. After Lopez understandably shunned the ceremonial pre-match handshake, Icardi went out of his way to prove he has zero respect for his former team-mate. He cupped his ear to Samp fans after scoring, before then posting a picture of himself making a cuckold symbol directed at Lopez on Twitter and has publicised several photographs of himself and Lopez’s children in the days since.

“I didn’t speak to Icardi because I have lost all respect I had for him”
Shkodran Mustafi

“What did I say to Icardi? I didn’t speak to him because I have lost all respect I had for him,” said defender Shkodran Mustafi after the game, and the striker’s continued disregard for Lopez since Sunday will have lost him even more friends.

While it is the Italian way for clubs to stand by players whatever their off-field behaviour, Icardi’s continued contempt for decency in what is a very emotional situation must be causing concern at Inter. And should Atletico Madrid’s initial interest materialise into an outright transfer assault, then it would almost certainly be in everybody’s best interests for the Argentine to be sold to the Spanish side.

That way, Lopez might finally get some peace at a difficult time in his life, and Icardi and Nara can pursue their destiny together without stamping all over the feelings of somebody they used to care about. What’s more, Inter will ensure that if the striker eventually has a run-in with karma, it doesn’t happen on their watch, and Calcio can get back to worrying about Calcio instead of clocking up countless unwanted column inches in irrelevant glossy magazines.

You can’t help who you fall in love with, but you can help being a disgrace about it.

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Hernanes: No Europa League would be failure for Inter

The Brazilian says Saturday’s game against Parma is a “final”, while admitting that he is also currently being driven by the prospect of a “magical” World Cup on home soil

Inter midfielder Hernanes believes that not making next season’s Europa League would constitute “failure” for a club that he feels capable of fighting for the Scudetto “inside two years”.

The Nerazzurri currently occupy fifth place in Serie A but are just two points ahead of Parma, whom they face away from home this weekend, while there is a chasing pack of three teams only three points behind the Gialloblu.

Consequently, while even sixth is almost certain to guarantee Europa League football next season, given third-placed Napoli are playing fourth-placed Fiorentina in the Coppa Italia final, Hernanes is treating the trip to the Ennio Tardini as a game Inter cannot afford to lose.

“The game against Parma will be a final,” the Brazil international told Tuttosport. “To not qualify for Europe would, for me, be a failure.

“Inter, technically, are very strong. We must, however, find consistency in the little details that have tripped us up too many times, particularly at San Siro.”

Despite the fact that there has been so much upheaval at Appiano Gentile this season, with Walter Mazzarri arriving as coach last summer before Erick Thohir completed his takeover of the club in October, Hernanes still has no doubts that he made the right choice in leaving Lazio for Inter in January.

“This year has been unique because at the start there was great uncertainty around the new project,” the 28-year-old mused.

“Much will depend on how we finish the season. If we do it in a certain way, it will give confidence to us and to the fans on the correctness of the chosen path.

“I am convinced that in two years we can be back fighting for the title … I came here to win the Scudetto, that great trophy that I’m lacking to make me feel complete.

“I experienced great emotions at Lazio winning the Coppa Italia with a derby win in the final.

“I had wanted to win the Scudetto in Rome, as there it would have been something even greater and more historic.

“However, I understood that it would not be possible and I decided to accept the offer from Inter.”

Hernanes is also hoping to finish the season as strongly as possible in order to secure a place in the Brazil squad for this summer’s World Cup and he freely admits that he is getting a little nervous – just because representing his country on home soil in the game’s grandest tournament means so much to him.

“I’m not worried, but neither am I calm,” the Recife native confessed. “This World Cup, for someone of my age … it has been a life project.

“Everything a person of my generation does has been programmed by the desire to reach the very top level for this tournament.

“A World Cup at home for a Brazilian is a unique event. It’s magical.  To have the opportunity to play in it … it would be a blessing.”

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