"Inter were excellent in the
first half, despite all the changes I’d made, and it shows that
this group is growing. Going in 3-0 up at the interval having created so
many chances is a good sign. We’re working well. This is an important
win because it’s given me the answers I was looking for." That
was Andrea Stramaccioni’s reaction after seeing his side waltz to
success over Neftchi in tonight’s Europa League clash.
"That makes three wins in a
row now for the team and I’m pleased with how they are doing – they’re coming along well," the coach added. He was also keen to point out the number
of youngsters in the side: "We had five players under 21 out there. It’s the start of a new cycle. Now we can look to the derby."
The coach let out a smile
when it was put to him that Inter go into Sunday’s match as favourites: "After their win in Saint Petersburg I think Milan are the
favourites… It will be tough, Milan are playing well now and it’s
going to be a great game. We’ve basically only got one day to prepare
for it on the training ground but we’ll manage."
Stramaccioni was asked whether Sneijder was really
needed, considering how convincing Inter have been in his absence. The reply was short and simple: "It’s always better to have Sneijder available."
The next question brought the topic round to
Coutinho: "I could see the boy’s quality immediately. He’s working
hard and doing very well. I have lots of good things to say about him – about all five youngsters who played tonight. It’s further proof of the
excellent work being carried out by our youth academy and a sign of just
how much talent we have in this squad. It’s a step forward in terms of
managing this squad. I think the lads showed a lot of
personality and played some great football. There’s no doubt in my mind
about the quality of my players and we’re a close-knit group – a team
that makes seven changes and maintains its identity must mean
At that point it was suggested that Stramaccioni had fielded his reserves. The coach replied: "I preferred to leave out those who
had played five games in such a short space of time. I can’t prove it
now of course but I’m sure that if I had played them they would have
found it difficult. I put out the best Inter team."