Friday December 2 2011
Ranieri: 'Udinese toughest yet'

Claudio Ranieri has nothing but praise for Saturday’s opponents Udinese as he warns Inter of a tough game in prospect this weekend.

The Rome-born Coach was talking ahead of welcoming the Zebrette to San Siro on Saturday for a Week 14 clash he has described as his toughest challenge to date at the club. The Nerazzurri are nine places and 10 points behind Francesco Guidolin’s side going into the match.

“Udinese are a wonder in the League. They have a well-formed and excellent academy that takes youngsters and adapts them to Italian football.

“They then sell the best players and still keep the team at high levels. A great compliment to the club and those that work at Udinese.

“Inter begin with a handicap and it is normal that there are 10 points of difference. They are fast and dangerous so we must be very careful. It is the most difficult game since I arrived here, a very important match for our future.”

Ranieri then took time to reflect on last weekend’s performance that relied on a last-gasp Luc Castaignos goal to secure the three points away to Siena.

“I liked the performance at Siena a lot, but not in the final 20 metres of the pitch where we came up against a very organised unit. We found the goal right at the end and the result was just reward.

“To improve further will take a great change of pace, but I’m confident because the team is growing. We’re getting there. We have made great strides, but everything is related to mentality.”

Inter have been hit by a number of injury-problems this season, but Ranieri is optimistic for the future.

“It is improving. I won’t make the mistake of playing them when they have just returned either. All are in the process of healing: [Wesley] Sneijder and [Douglas] Maicon might be available against Fiorentina.

“Diego Forlan has started his first training sessions with us again. The injury is almost healed. I’m waiting for the doctor’s ok, so I don’t know if he will play against Fiorentina or will have to wait until the next game.”

Ranieri hinted that he is considering fielding Giampaolo Pazzini and Diego Milito together in the near future and might even do so against Udinese .

“Why not? They are enigmatic. I said from the beginning that they can coexist because they have complementary characteristics.

“Milito behind the strikers in Siena was able to play very well. Diego knows how to play football, he is intelligent and can play with any partner. There will be an opportunity to see them together.”

The 60-year-old Coach also had some interesting  words for the younger members of the squad.

“We do not pressurise the younger players. Inter are not in a province where they can continue to make mistakes without anyone saying anything.

“Here it is about winning, always. The young players are doing well, they are smart and have a future. Let us plan ahead: it is up to me when I put them in and it is up to them to respond with a performance.”