Monday November 21 2011
Ranieri targets last 16 place

Claudio Ranieri admits he is keen to secure Inter’s place in the Champions League last 16 this week, as he also thanks Trabzonspor fans for their welcome.

Inter are in Turkey for the continuation of their Champions League Group B campaign which sees them play away to the Turkish League runners-up on matchday five.

Speaking at the official competition pre-match Press conference, the Rome-born tactician reflected on the welcome he and his players received on arrival in Turkey, but has warned his players not to expect a similar reception on Tuesday.

“I want to thank the Trabzonspor fans for the reception that they gave us yesterday, including the flowers and scarves. They truly welcomed us and I was pleasantly surprised.

“It was a really lovely gesture, although I know that it will be difficult on the pitch tomorrow when we face each other as opponents.”

The Nerazzurri are currently top of their group with nine points and can assure qualification to the Last 16 on Tuesday should they defeat the Turks, or if they draw in Trabzon and CSKA Moscow fail to beat Lille in the group’s other game.

Ranieri reflected on the focus for his team, which sits in stark contrast to where the team found themselves at the beginning of the European campaign. When under Gian Piero Gasperini, Inter fell to a shock 1-0 home defeat to Trabzonspor and were bottom of the group.

“When I got here the Champions League situation was something that needed to be taken control of. We still haven't won anything but something has been done,” said Ranieri.

“We need to continue on the same path heading towards Moscow, but we must be careful because the opponents are motivated by their fans.

“They know how to play and how to attack. However, we would like to wrap up qualification, even though we know it will be difficult.”

Ranieri is without Wesley Sneijder for the trip and took the opportunity to hint at the impact his involvement with the Dutch team may have had on his physical condition.

“Obviously when a player goes away on international duty he wants to play and if that's the way things are we have to accept it.

“But if there was a sizeable compensation for clubs in case of injuries, the medical staff at national teams might think twice before sending a player who had a slight problem in the last training session onto the pitch.

“But he'd got over that problem so I understand why he played for his national side the next day.”

Ranieri then fielded questions on the weekend’s controversy that saw Thiago Motta open the scoring against Cagliari even as replays suggested he was offside. Davide Ballardini suggested the refereeing was in favour of Inter.

“The right balance isn't there to comment on the situations. When errors went against us we had to think about solving our problems.

“However with an error in our favour there's talk of a phoney season. I believe, as I've already said, that before there were dubious incidents that went against us, with some penalties that were far from clear.

“I took what happened on Saturday as a sign that perhaps our luck has changed.”