Inter Director Says Nerazzurri Will Fight for Champions League Spot Ahead of Crucial Juventus Tie

Inter sporting director Piero Ausilio has said that the Nerazzurri will fight until the end of the season as they aim to qualify for a Champions League spot.

The San Siro side are just one point adrift of fourth-placed Lazio in fifth, but have a tough match against Serie A leaders Juventus coming up on the weekend.

AC Chievo Verona v FC Internazionale - Serie A

The result of that fixture could go on to define their season, but director Ausilio has assured manager Luciano Spalletti that his job is safe, even if Inter finish out of Italy’s top four.

“Spalletti is our present and our future, regardless of where we finish,” he told Rai Radio 1 in quotes cited by the club’s ​official website. “The final matches will be important because they could allow us to continue on our journey and securing Champions League football would be wonderful.

“Beyond the financial side of things, Inter must always aim for the top European competition because of the prestige but the team has improved in a lot of different ways thanks to the work from the Coach and his staff. This year, lots of things have been done well and we can obviously improve further but solid foundations have been built.”

AC Chievo Verona v FC Internazionale - Serie A

(You may also be interested in: ​Inter Boss Luciano Spalletti Highlights Duo’s ‘Great’ Contribution in Win Over Chievo)

Ausilio is expecting the match against Juve to be a very difficult one, but reckons his side are strong enough to cope as well as fight for a top four place in the few games that remain in this campaign.

“It will be tough against Juventus because they’re a strong team and it’s rare that they get things wrong in two consecutive matches,” he remarked. 


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“We’ll find ourselves against a determined opponent but we’re also in shape and we’ll look to put in a great performance as we have done so far in all the big matches this year. Lazio and Roma are going strong, it will be a battle until the very end but we’re ready for it.”

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AC Milan to Battle Serie A Rivals Inter in Race to Sign Juventus Defender Kwadwo Asamoah

​AC Milan have made a late attempt to highjack rivals ​Inter in claiming the signature of experienced ​Juventus defender Kwadwo Asamoah. The 29-year-old, who rejected a contract extension at Juventus, has however already reached an agreement of principle with Inter Milan.

 

According to Calciomercato, the Ghana international has already bought a house in Milan and seemed destined to join Inter, but the late interest shown by AC Milan could possibly lead to renegotiations.

AC Milan v Juventus - Serie A

Asamoah joined Juventus in 2012 from Udinese and has spent his whole senior career in Italy. A move to either Inter or AC Milan would be a big boost for both clubs as they have had their defensive struggles over the season.

 

AC Milan enjoyed renewed optimism at the start of the season when former player Gennaro Gattuso was appointed manager but the Rosseneri are currently in seventh position in the Serie A, while they were also knocked out of the Europa League by Arsenal in the round of 16.

AC Milan have however, already secured the services of defender Ivan Strinic from Sampdoria at the end of the season to strengthen their defence. Strinic will join Gattuso’s side as a free agent. 

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Inter on the other hand have showed some improvement from last season and are currently in fifth position in Serie A, only one point outside a top three spot. The Nerazzurri are targeting a place in the Champions League under manager Luciano Spalletti, who joined the club in June last year. ​

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Serie A Initiative Sees Players Line Up With Red Face Paint to Combat Domestic Violence

The entire Serie A took part in an initiative this weekend that saw players take to the pitch with a red stripe painted onto their cheek to promote a campaign that seeks to raise awareness of violence against women.

The idea behind the campaign came from Italian humanitarian organisation WeWorld Onlus, who teamed up with the players’ association and Serie A TIM, to promote an end to domestic violence.

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Players and officials across the entire county took part in the campaign, with some of the Serie A’s biggest stars promoting the campaign even further on social media by using the hashtag: “#unrossoallaviolenza” (a red card against violence).

The campaign appeared to receive the most attention when Napoli travelled to Turin on Sunday in what could have been a title-clinching match for Juventus. 

But a bullet header from Kalidou Koulibaly in the 90th minute has seen the title race in Italy blown wide open, with just one point now separating Juventus and Napoli at the top of the Serie A table.

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The reigning champions still have tough away matches against Inter and Roma before the end of the season, not to mention their Coppa Italia final clash against AC Milan next month, while Maurizio Sarri’s side will face their toughest test on the road to Fiorentina next week.

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Inter Boss Luciano Spalletti Highlights Duo’s ‘Great’ Contribution in Win Over Chievo

Inter manager Luciano Spalletti has praised Marcelo Brozovic and Rafinha for their contributions against Chievo on Sunday.

The Nerazzurri weathered a late storm from the hosts as they sought an equaliser ​to run out 2-1 winners at Stadio Marcantonio Bentegodi and keep within a point of the Champions League places.

AC Chievo Verona v FC Internazionale - Serie A

It took Inter some time to get going in the match, and Chievo might have gone ahead on numerous occasions in the first half but for some brilliant goalkeeping from Samir Handanovic.

Goals in the second half from captain Mauro Icardi and Ivan Perisic were enough to give Inter the three crucial points, but Spalletti highlighted the contributions of two other stars after the game.

He said, as quoted by ​Soccer News: “He [Rafinha] played a great game, managing the ball and getting the team up. Brozovic gave another great performance, showing a continuity and coverage of the field that made the difference.

FC Internazionale v Cagliari Calcio - Serie A

“It’s the team that count. The completeness of the game makes the difference and it’s no coincidence that when we gave up a bit in the final minutes, we ran into difficulties.”

Inter have just four games remaining in Serie A and need to try and win them all to qualify for next season’s Champions League, with Roma and Lazio both looking strong.


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On his team’s prospects, Spalletti added (via ​sempreinter.com): “Almost every game is difficult. You see results when you have total quality and strength, without this it is difficult to win. This is what we have to have in the next matches, it will not be easy but mentally we have to feel that we are able to.”

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Juventus Withdraw From Race for Cagliari Star Leaving Door Open to Milan Duo

Juventus have opted to withdraw from the race for highly rated Cagliari midfielder Nicolo Barella, according to reports in Italy. 

The 21-year-old has caught the eye of a number of European superpowers this season including AC Milan, Inter, Liverpool and Olympique Lyonnais, despite starring in a relegation-threatened outfit. 

The Old Lady were reported to be also amongst that list of clubs who had set the Italian as one of their priority summer targets; however, according to ​Calciomercato, that is no longer the case, with directors Beppe Marotta and Fabio Paratici switching the direction of their attention elsewhere. 

Juventus A v Juventus B - Preseason Friendly

It is thought that Bryan Cristante or Lorenzo Pellegrini are instead the preferred options for Bianconeri, who are keen to shore up their midfield over the summer.

The Milan clubs, meanwhile, are indeed still in the running, with Inter coach Luciano Spalletti said to be an admirer of Barella’s quality and technique on the ball. 

It is expected that Nerazzurri sporting director Piero Ausilio will aim to reduce Cagliari’s asking price, however, with the 45-year-old’s plan being to offer “technical counterparts” to overcome president Tommaso Giulini’s €20m valuation. 

La Beneamata are also monitoring Roma’s Kevin Strootman and Nice’s Wylan Cyprien, although much will depend on the San Siro outfit’s European qualification, with the club currently sat outside of the Champions League places by a point despite their 2-1 win over ChievoVerona on Sunday afternoon. 


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Ausilio has already stated that ​the club will not be forced to sell their big-name players this summer despite Financial Fair Play rulings, although, whether the funds are available to buy players is another question.  

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Inter Chief Confident FFP Won’t Force Sales As He Rules Out Man Utd Summer Transfer Battle

Internazionale sporting director Piero Ausilio has claimed the club will not have to offload big names this summer to adhere to Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules despite the prospect of missing out on Champions League football once again. 

Although they claimed a 2-1 win over ChievoVerona on Sunday afternoon, Inter still find themselves outside of the top four; a point behind Lazio, who grabbed a 4-0 home victory over Sampdoria. 

With four games remaining, Inter are slowly running out of time to secure their spot in Europe’s elite competition next term, which can come with serious financial implications for a club the size of the San Siro outfit. 

However, Ausilio revealed to told Mediaset Premium (via Football Italia) ahead of his this weekend’s contest that he is positive Nerazzurri will not be forced to offload some of their big hitters this summer to balance the books. 

“We have many plans for the future, both with and without Champions League football”, the 45-year-old said. “I don’t think we’ll need to necessarily sell a big player if we don’t get into the tournament, as last season we found a different way to balance the books too.”

(You may also like ​’He’s Ready’: Real Madrid Legend Luis Figo Links Inter Striker With Summer Move to the Bernabeu)

Joao Cancelo, although not a permanent Inter player and currently Valencia-owned, is one player who has caught the eye of many this term, with Manchester United said to be an interested party as they look to revamp their back four during the off-season. 

However, Ausilio revealed that the Red Devils will miss out on the 23-year-old this summer, with the player having already agreed a four-year deal with Inter should the Serie A giants activate the permanent clause in his current agreement; which they plan to do. 


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“As for Joao Cancelo, I want to make clear that he has signed a four-year contract with Inter and we have an option to buy,” the sporting director added. “If we do what we’re planning, which is to activate the option, we won’t need to negotiate anything.”

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Chievo 1-2 Inter: Handanovic Stars As Nerazzurri Deny Spirited Chievo Much Needed Point

Internazionale staved off a spirited Chievo to claim three points at Stadio Bentegodi on Sunday afternoon.

Goals from talismanic duo Mauro Icardi and Ivan Perisic ensured the Nerazzurri kept pace with Roma and Lazio after both sides won this weekend.

AC Chievo Verona v FC Internazionale - Serie A

It was the hosts who started the brighter in terms of intent, despite Joao Cancelo’s early fizzing free-kick that went just wide of the left hand post in the ninth minute.

Chievo had some good chances, with loan star Manuel Pucciarelli striking the post with a fierce drive for the hosts and defender Riccardo Meggiorini then tested Samir Handanovic with a header but the sprawling Slovenian managed to get across to the left side of his goal.

AC Milan v FC Internazionale - TIM Cup

Handanovic was called upon again moments later to keep out Emanuele Giaccherini’s rasping effort from the right hand side of the box, as Chievo sought the opening goal that perhaps their positive play had warranted.

Inter settled into the game as the half went on, and winger Yann Karamoh almost broke the deadlock after good work from Rafinha to lay it off.

Some fine defending prevented captain Mauro Icardi from almost certainly scoring after Ivan Perisic collected Milan Skriniar’s long pass to whip in a low cross.

There was time for a couple more chances for Chievo though before half time – Fabrizio Cacciatore forcing Handanovic into action with a left-footed strike and Pucciarelli again forcing a strong save from the 33-year-old following a dangerous counter-attack – Inter were perhaps lucky to enter the half time interval on level terms.​

The second half demanded a far better performance from Inter, and they did come out looking more positive – Marcelo Brozovic testing Stefano Sorrentino from outside the box down to his left-hand side.

It was as though Luciano Spalletti, read the riot act to his players at half time and Inter then went ahead through talisman Icardi, although not before the referee had consulted the game’s VAR system.

AC Chievo Verona v FC Internazionale - Serie A

Perisic then doubled the visitors’ lead after a nicely worked bit of build up play involving Karamoh and Icardi, the Argentine laying the Croatian off for an easy finish after a late surge into the box.

Chievo, for all their positivity in the first half, appeared pretty shell-shocked at first by the Nerazzurri’s injection of urgency and had trouble regrouping as Inter began to assert their dominance for the first time.

With the threat of relegation a very really prospect in the back of their minds though, Chievo didn’t completely roll over and forced a couple of corners as they searched for a way back into the game.

AC Chievo Verona v FC Internazionale - Serie A

Inter defended solidly and Spalletti’s team nearly added a third through Rafinha after some silky play before unleashing a low drive to Sorrentino’s left, and then through Davide Santon who skewed and effort wide.

Chievo did grab a consolation through Mariusz Stepinski, but couldn’t find a late equaliser that could have given them a huge point in their bid to stave off relegation.

For Inter it was a game they should have won, and they ended up doing so after coming through a tricky first half, thanks mainly to goalkeeper Handanovic.

It’s another three points in their quest to finish amongst the Champions League places, which might prove to be crucial since Roma won on Saturday and Lazio thumped Sampdoria on Sunday.​​

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Chievo vs Inter Milan Preview: Classic Encounter, Key Battle, Team News & More

​Inter travel to Chievo on Sunday as they look to beat Roma and Lazio to third place in Serie A before the season draws to a close.

Luciano Spalletti’s side come into the game off the back of an impressive ​4-0 victory against Cagliari on Tuesday. An early strike from Joao Cancelo was built on by second half goals from Mauro Icardi, Marcelo Brozović and Ivan Perišić. 

Meanwhile, Chievo have recorded back to back draws in their last two games, failing to register goals against both Torino last weekend and SPAL 2013 during midweek. They face the first of two challenging games, as they take on Inter and then travel to Roma six days later.


Classic Encounter

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Chievo upset the odds with a shock 2-0 victory at home to Inter back in August 2016.

After several early attempts at goal from Inter which were not capitalised on, Chievo fought their way back into the game and the tie was relatively even yet uneventful going into the half time break.

However, a 49th minute strike from Chievo’s Valter Birsa shocked spectators as he slotted home into the bottom left corner to give the hosts a surprise lead in the Serie A tie.

With nine minutes left on the clock, Birsa scored his second goal of the game with a powerful effort from outside of the box, into the bottom right corner of the Inter goal.


Key Battle

Mauro Icardi vs Ivan Radovanović

Argentine striker Mauro Icardi is on fine form for Inter this season, having netted 25 times in 29 Serie A appearances.

Icardi has now almost guaranteed himself a place on the plane to the World Cup in Russia this summer, but will do himself no harm with another impressive performance during this weekend’s trip to Chievo.

AC Milan v FC Internazionale - Serie A

The 25-year-old will come up against Ivan Radovanović, an experienced Serbian international who has coverted from a defensive midfielder to play in the centre of a back three for Chievo.

The 29-year-old has played 149 Serie A games for Chievo, with 24 of those coming this season. Standing at 6ft 1in, the defender has good positional sense and is difficult to beat in one-on-one situations.


Team News

Chievo head into the game with a full bill of health, as their whole first team squad is available for selection.

Visitors Inter will be without injured midfield duo Roberto Gagliardini and Assane Gnoukouri for the tie, but manager Luciano Spalletti has an otherwise fully fit squad to select from. 

AC Milan v FC Internazionale - Serie A

Predicted Inter Milan Lineup: Handanović; Cancelo, Skriniar, Miranda, D’Ambrosio; Valero, Brozović; Karamoh, Rafinha, Perisić; Icardi.

Predicted Chievo Lineup: Sorrentino; Gamberini, Radovanović, Tomović; Depaoli, Giaccherini, Rigoni, Hetemaj, Jaroszyński; Pucciarelli, Inglese.


Prediction

Inter are coming into this game in impressive form, as they chase third place in the Serie A table.

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The form of striker Mauro Icardi, plus the attacking trio behind him, may prove too much for an average Chievo side and the visitors should come away from the game with all three points.

Prediction: Chievo 0-3 Inter Milan

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Inter Open Talks With Real Madrid Over Former Midfielder Linked With €30m Serie A Return

Real Madrid midfielder Mateo Kovačić is poised to make a €30m return to San Siro this summer, with Internazionale’s hierarchy eager to see the Croatia international return to Milan when the transfer window opens.

Kovačić left Italy in 2015 after an impressive two-year spell in Serie A. The former Dinamo Zagreb academy star has made over 100 appearances for Real Madrid during that time, but the 23-year-old is often forced to make an impact from the bench.

Malaga v Real Madrid - La Liga

(You may also like: Real Madrid Defender Insists ‘Incredible’ Ronaldo Will Always Find a Way to Silence the Critics)

Now in search of regular first team football, Kovačić has been linked with a number of clubs across Europe but Italian outlet Il Corriere dello Sport (via Calciomercato) report that the Austria-born midfielder is already the subject of discussions between Inter and Real Madrid.

Malaga v Real Madrid - La Liga

It is claimed that Nerrazzuri director of football Piero Ausilio is determined to bring Kovačić back to Milan at the end of the season, and he is even prepared to match the €30m that the midfielder was sold for just three years ago.

But Inter will face competition for his signature this summer, with it also reported that Jürgen Klopp is considering bringing Kovačić to Liverpool.


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Should Inter miss out on resigning their former player, then Ausilio has other targets lined up. One name who was on the Nerrazzuri’s wishlist is William Carvalho, but the Sporting CP midfielder’s buyout clause – believed to be in excess of €40m – has put the Italian giants off making a move.

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Julio Cesar Reveals Curious Details About His Relationship With Former Boss Jose Mourinho

Brazilian goalkeeper Julio Cesar has revealed some interesting details about his relationship with former manager Jose Mourinho.

In an interview with Selecao Sportv (via ​Marca), Cesar – ​who is retiring from football at the end of this season – revealed Mourinho had treated him harshly during some of his time at Inter, but had kind words for him following the 2013 Confederations Cup final.

Inter Milan's Brazilian goalkeeper Julio

Cesar had just been named Best Goalkeeper of the Tournament following Brazil’s 3-0 victory over Spain in the final, and collected his award in Iker Casillas’ shirt as a tribute to the Spaniard.

“When I got to the dressing room, I saw a message from Mourinho on my mobile phone,” Cesar explained. ‘You’re crazy, it’s Casillas who would have to put on your shirt and not you,’ it read. And he told me that with only one arm I stopped more than Casillas.

“Iker went to the dressing room to talk to me [to thank him for the gesture] and I told him to have a discussion with Mourinho, which is difficult but he had to face it,” Cesar continued. “Mourinho likes to go face to face with the players who are considered stars in the teams that he coaches.”

Inter Milan's Portuguese coach Jose Mour

The Brazilian goalkeeper also discussed life under Mourinho’s management, and revealed the harsh words that Mourinho would say to him.

“The first year was great, but the second one was more difficult,” he added. “I went into games with a fear of being wrong, and I thought: either I face it or it ends my career.

“In training Mourinho approached me and said ‘you are the best goalkeeper in the world, but today you’re a Serie C goalkeeper.'”

Bayern Munich's Dutch striker Arjen Robb

This was not the only time Mourinho was rude to Cesar. who explained the Portugese manager’s weird obsession with a yellow shirt.

“There was a time when Mourinho wanted me to play with a yellow shirt,” Cesar said. But it wasn’t part of the colours of the goalkeepers of that season, which were white, black and grey.

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“He gave me a yellow shirt, which was the training shirt, and I told him I was not going to play in yellow. Mourinho mocked me in every way possible and told me I was afraid of the ball. In short…I played in yellow.”

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