Result: Inter fans more likely to forget birthdays than derby date, claims Spalletti
Inter head coach Luciano Spalletti believes his side’s supporters are more likely to know the date of the Milan derbies than remember birthdays of members of their family.
Inter can go seven points clear of Milan if Spalletti’s side win the first Derby Della Madonnina of the season and the coach knows just how important games against Milan are for the fans.
With that in mind – and the small matter of Barcelona coming up in the Champions League next Wednesday – Spalletti insists his focus is solely on beating Milan.
“Since coming here, I’ve realised that Inter fans are more likely to forget the birthdays of their husbands or wives than they are the date of the derby,” Spalletti said in his pre-match press conference.
“There are three tiers at San Siro, and a fourth with all our fans on their couches cheering us on from home.
“If you want to go down in the history of Inter, and not just for the length of your contract, then you’ll do it via this game.
“People shouldn’t talk about the crowd as the frame to this match, but as part of the painting itself, because no other game can provide the kind of passion that represents a Milan derby and the city ought to be proud.
“I think the derby is worth far more than three points for what it brings out in the minds of the players and the enthusiasm of the fans.
“This week we haven’t thought about Barcelona or anything else, just the derby. This game is the thermometer to measure the Inter fever in the city.
“A victory could give us so much more than just three points. We must be demanding of ourselves and expect great things, because that is what this game requires.
“We won’t stand for any fear, because we are convinced that what we are doing is right.”
AC Milan head coach Gennaro Gattuso believes his side have an edge on rivals Inter when it comes to the technical side of the game.
Milan have won just one of the last eight derbies and Gattuso insists he and his players will respect Inter.
Gattuso admits he thinks some of his players hate him for demanding a very professional attitude at all times.
“Over the last month, my team has improved a great deal in terms of mentality,” Gattuso said in his press conference prior to the game.
“Perhaps some players hate me, but my vision of football demands a very professional attitude in training and I don’t keep my opinions to myself.
“I’m well aware some love that, while about 20 per cent probably hate me.
“This is the kind of game that prepares itself, so we must if anything try not to feel it too intensely and avoid losing too much energy to stress.
“If we look at each individual player, we have different characteristics to Inter, and certainly less in terms of physicality. On the other hand, we have something more on a technical level.
“Inter are a strong side and not just on paper, as they showed in the Champions League. They have quality, are physically imposing, and we mustn’t make mistakes or show fear.
“We’ve got to respect Inter and play our style of football, keeping a particular eye on set plays, plus the movements of Mauro Icardi and Ivan Perisic.”