Having won each of their last seven Serie A games, the Nerazzurri are looking to chip away at the nine point gap between them and Juventus on Sunday
Stefano Pioli says Inter striker Mauro Icardi is better than his Juventus counterpart Gonzalo Higuain, but insists his side must play as a team if they are to beat to Serie A champions on Sunday.
After a stuttering start to the season under Frank de Boer, Pioli has brought the Nerazzurri back up to the top end of the table. The San Siro outfit now sit in fourth place, sitting nine points behind leaders Juve, having won each of their last seven league games, though Tuesday’s Coppa Italia loss to Lazio brought an end to a nine-game winning streak in all competitions.
Inter can chip away at that deficit on Sunday when the reigning champions host Pioli’s men. The coach believes his side have a more lethal attacker in the form of Icardi, who has scored as many goals as Higuain in Serie A this season – 15 – but has eight assists to his compatriot’s one, but maintains his side must be wary of their opponents.
When asked which of the two strikers is better, Pioli told Corriere dello Sport: « Icardi… We need to be effective, we have to be a team. I do not think there is one decisive aspect: when we play with intensity, pace and work for each other. If we do that we are a strong and competitive team.
“We will have to approach the game with strength, conviction and effectiveness. Juventus are the team who score more in the first 10 minutes, we score more in the last 15. We’ll see what will happen.
« We have to be very careful about the details and distances, but we should be paying attention to the second balls, they may important to help us hurt them in attack.
« Juventus are a strong team, they have the mentality, the team and the coach. If there is a team that can make things difficult, it is Inter. They have certain qualities and we have ours. We will try to do well.
« This meeting will be important in understanding the distance between the two teams. I think it will be a good challenge. »
Pioli is confident in his knowledge of the opposition, having studied most teams during his time out of work before joining Inter and he is looking forward to the Derby d’Italia.
« I’m used to this very life, to know the strengths and weaknesses of this profession, » he added. « When I was at home I watched football and I traveled to follow the coaches that I like more.
« I waited for the right situation and arrived. Inter have arrived at the right time and I had the opportunity to coach a great team with great fans. This is my big chance. »