Walter Mazzarri said Inter’s players should “watch and learn” from Walter Samuel after he secured victory over Sassuolo.
“We played well, it was tough and we know in Italy all opponents prepare tactically so they are balanced encounters,” he told Sky Sport Italia after the 1-0 result.
“We took a while to break the deadlock, which was rather familiar, but let’s say we finally broke the spell.
“Both Hernanes and Fredy Guarin did well, though clearly they need to improve their fitness levels and can only get that with regular playing. You could tell Hernanes felt the tension of his debut.”
Centre-back Samuel scored the winner, meaning the only goals in the last six Nerazzurri games have come from defenders.
Diego Milito missed several opportunities tonight, while Mauro Icardi has barely featured this season.
“Icardi finally trained for two weeks in a row, which I think is the first time he’s managed that in a year. He is on his way back and will be useful this season.
“Milito is such an important and intelligent player. He was unlucky with the chances tonight, as one bounced right in front of him and another would’ve gone it were it not for a deflection, while Pegolo performed crucial saves. I’m sure he can only get better with more match fitness.
“There are world class players here and it’s no coincidence they have won it all. Obviously injuries and age have an effect too, but the rest of the squad ought to watch and learn from the determination of Samuel.”
Mazzarri was asked why he chose to bench Hugo Campagnaro and Andrea Ranocchia.
“Samuel had done well in the Coppa Italia against Udinese and looked good in training, whereas some of the other defenders had lost some of their sharpness. I thought the team and the back line needed a leader who could push the others in these difficult times.
“Rolando hasn’t got a game wrong since he started playing regularly, so I felt it right to keep him there, while Juan Jesus needed his pace on Domenico Berardi.”
Ruben Botta made another impressive appearance as a substitute, so could he soon be in the starting XI?
“I had the doubt until Saturday afternoon on whether to start Botta, as he too had injuries and is now starting to show what he can do. We train all week now and I get the chance to evaluate.”
Finally, Mazzarri was questioned on a bizarre incident. This weekend Parma team manager Sandro Melli wrote a Facebook post insulting the Inter Coach, but then he and the club issued an apology.
“In all honesty, I’ve no idea. I think in the past he might’ve argued with (assistant manager) Frustalupi, but I can’t remember any particular incident.”