Simone Inzaghi felt Inter's desire to reach the Coppa Italia final four "at all costs" was crucial to their 1-0 quarter-final victory over Atalanta at San Siro.

Matteo Darmian's well-taken winner in the 57th minute saw the holders through to the semi-finals for the fourth successive season.

Having already lifted the Supercoppa Italiana earlier this month by thrashing rivals Milan in Saudi Arabia, Tuesday's victory took Inter one step closer to picking up a second trophy of the season.

The Nerazzurri are the only Italian side left fighting for silverware on all fronts, and Inzaghi lauded his team's aggressive trophy aspirations as key to the win.

"We did well against a valuable team," Inzaghi told reporters at his post-match press conference. "We wanted the semi-final at all costs.

"It was a wonderful evening for everyone. It gives us great pride to be the only team involved in all fronts in Italy."

While Inter remain in the Coppa Italia and Champions League, their Serie A title hopes are looking slim with leaders Napoli holding a 13-point lead at the top and showing no sign of slowing down.

Inzaghi believes his side would be closer to the summit were it not for Napoli's incredible form, winning 17 of their 20 league matches this term, though their sole defeat came against Inter this month.

"We are behind in the league like all the others," Inzaghi added. "We made some mistakes.

"I also see the other leagues. Bayern [Munich], we've seen what a team it is and it has a low points tally. In any other league, with 40 points after 20 games we'd be there to fight for the Scudetto.

"We just have to compliment the progress Napoli has made so far."

Much of the build-up to the Atalanta clash was centred on Milan Skriniar after the defender confirmed on Sunday he would be joining Ligue 1 side Paris Saint-Germain.

It remained unclear whether Skriniar would make the move to France in this transfer window, but Inter CEO Beppe Marotta confirmed before the game the Slovakia international would only depart in June when his contract expires.

Despite Skriniar staying with Inter and finishing his suspension for his red card against Empoli, Inzaghi left him out of the squad for the Atalanta game, a decision he explained afterwards.

"I decided to exclude him today to leave him alone," Inzaghi told Mediaset. "But there's no problem with him.

"He's a great professional, he trains with us and I'll choose whether to use him or not each time."

Simone Inzaghi will not "waste time imagining what happens in the future" amid speculation over Milan Skriniar's future at Inter.

Defender Skriniar missed Saturday's trip to lowly Cremonese through suspension, though his absence was not felt too keenly as Inter recovered from an early setback to win 2-1 thanks to Lautaro Martinez's double.

The centre-back has been repeatedly linked with a move to Paris Saint-Germain, but with just over three days of the transfer window remaining, Inzaghi is not worrying about losing Skriniar.

"That is not a question for me, it is for directors [Giuseppe] Marotta and [Piero] Ausilio," Inzaghi told DAZN.

"Milan is a great professional, he is here at the moment and trains to his best. I cannot waste time imagining what happens in the future."

Inter were well worth their win at Cremonese, who are yet to secure a victory in Serie A this season.

Inzaghi's side had 30 shots and got 10 of those on target, albeit they relied on the quality of Martinez to get over the line.

Martinez moved onto double figures for the season with his 21st-minute equaliser, when he reacted sharply to turn home a rebound from Edin Dzeko's volley.

The forward has now scored at least 10 Serie A goals in four separate seasons with Inter, becoming only the third foreign player to achieve that feat in the club's history.

Dzeko supplied the pass for Martinez's second-half winner, and Inzaghi hailed the duo's partnership.

"They are fantastic," the coach said. "They are doing very well but [Joaquin] Correa and [Romelu] Lukaku are also returning to get back in good shape.

"They played about 20 minutes and the team will need them because Edin and Lauti can't play all the games."

Inter moved up to second with their victory, but having lost to Empoli on Monday they are a distant 10 points behind runaway leaders Napoli.

"It was tough against a Cremonese side that in the last few days had knocked Napoli out of the Coppa Italia and picked up a point in Bologna," Inzaghi said.

"I am very happy with the character shown by my team, as after a nasty defeat, conceding an early goal against the run of play could have been really damaging."

Despite Napoli's advantage at the summit of Serie A, Martinez is not giving up on the Scudetto.

He told DAZN: "We are racing only against ourselves, as we dropped a lot of points, it's a big gap at the top and Napoli play [on Sunday].

"We must be calm, focus on ourselves and continue to improve."

Inter have "no possibility" of renewing the contract of Milan Skriniar beyond its expiration date in June, according to the defender's agent Roberto Sistici.

Skriniar was strongly linked with a move to Paris Saint-Germain last year, but no move materialised and the centre-back began renegotiating a new deal with Inter.

However, his agent confirmed on Monday that Inter's offer was ultimately rejected in December, and he has since made clear to the club they are in talks with other teams.

Skriniar, who was sent off in Monday's 1-0 defeat by Empoli, is widely expected to eventually sign for PSG, though Sistici refused to name the clubs he is speaking to.

"The truth is that the decision to place Milan Skriniar on the transfer market in the summer was made by Inter, obviously not by the player," Sistici told TeleNord.

"It was a choice by the club that led to a negotiation between Inter and PSG, of which we had obviously been informed. At a certain point, the negotiation broke down, and we had also been informed of this step, a decision that was not up to us and which the player accepted calmly, with professionalism and absolute respect for the contract.

"Last autumn, we responded to all the meeting requests made by the club. After a series of preliminary meetings, we presented our financial request and subsequently, at the beginning of November 2022, the club presented us with a proposal.

"About a month later, before Christmas, I communicated to Inter the decision not to accept their offer, a choice reiterated at the beginning of January, before the Supercoppa, when I also informed the managers [Giuseppe] Marotta and [Piero] Ausilio that we thought we were free to listen to offers from other clubs.

"Maybe it wasn't mandatory communication, but for the player and myself it was the most correct way to proceed, knowing that seriousness and transparency are the best way to proceed for us. I repeat, we have never missed any appointment with Inter."

He added: "We didn't talk about PSG, just as we didn't leak our and Inter's positions, given that with Inter we had agreed to handle the matter with the right confidentiality, in the interest of serenity and the performance of the team and of the player.

"There are contacts with some clubs. Not Italian [clubs]."

Inter coach Simone Inzaghi responded after the shock loss by saying the club were "trying to resolve" the situation with Skriniar, without clarifying whether he meant by selling the player or making a new contract offer.

At a similar time, PSG coach Christophe Galtier was also asked about Skriniar following the Parisians' 7-0 Coupe de France win over Pays de Cassel.

He did not offer much clarity either, though he acknowledged PSG were convinced last year they had done enough to sign him.

"I cannot say if he will arrive this winter [January], or this summer," he told beIN SPORTS. "He is a player we've been tracking for a long time.

"In fact, we thought that we had already got him last summer."

Simone Inzaghi told Inter to forget Monday's dismal defeat to Empoli, after which the Nerazzurri were still not giving up hopes of winning Serie A.

Inter remained 13 points behind runaway leaders Napoli after going down 1-0 at home following a first-half Milan Skriniar red card.

Empoli were good value for their win against Inzaghi's out-of-sorts side, and the head coach appeared to recognise that as he sought to move on swiftly from this match.

"We have to archive it immediately," he said. "We will have another difficult game, and we have to forget immediately, looking ahead.

"Of course, we will analyse the mistakes, but we have to think about the next matches."

The season is now at the halfway stage, and Inzaghi acknowledged Inter must improve.

"This is a defeat that stings," he told DAZN. "We finish the first half of the season with 37 points and many regrets.

"Now, we know we'll have to do better over the second part."

However, midfielder Hakan Calhanoglu is remaining optimistic, saying in an interview with Sky Sport: "Thirteen points [to Napoli] is a huge gap, but we have to keep going and not stop.

"I know it feels hard to believe, but there's still a long way to go."

Edin Dzeko joked he feels like a 21-year-old again after playing a starring role in Inter's Supercoppa Italiana victory over Milan in Riyadh on Wednesday.

The Bosnia and Herzegovina international became the competition's oldest goalscorer, overtaking Cristiano Ronaldo, with his well-taken strike in Inter's 3-0 triumph.

He had earlier played in Nicolo Barella with a delightful pass for the midfielder to tee up Federico Dimarco in a display that landed him the sponsors' man of the match award.

Dzeko turns 37 in March and is due to be out of contract at San Siro at the end of the campaign, but the veteran striker is not thinking about his future for now.

"That's not for today," he told Sport Mediaset. "We're happy for the fans because we deserved this win. Today we'll celebrate and then we can think about everything else."

Asked to confirm his age after rolling back the years, Dzeko laughed and said: "I'll be 22 soon!"

Lautaro Martinez profited from some more sloppy Milan defending – with Fikayo Tomori in particular at fault – to seal an emphatic Derby della Madonnina victory in Saudi Arabia.

Inter's win was their first over their fierce rivals in a final in what was the third such meeting, with Milan previously prevailing in the 2011 Supercoppa and the 1977 Coppa Italia.

Milan pipped Inter to the Serie A title last season, but Dzeko does not consider the victory at King Fahd International Stadium as any sort of revenge.

"That isn't the case," he said. "I always prefer to look ahead, just like everyone in the team. We won a cup today, one we already knew how good it is to win.

"We prepared well for the game and went onto the pitch with the aim of winning it. We played a great game and gave everything from the first minute until the last.

"I'm delighted to bring another cup home and hopefully there will be more in the future."

Having defeated Juventus 12 months ago, Inter retained the trophy and are now level with Milan on seven Supercoppa triumphs – within two of record-holders Juve.

Simone Inzaghi is now a four-time winner of the competition as a coach – twice with Inter and twice with Lazio – which tied the record with Marcello Lippi and Fabio Capello. 

Reflecting on his latest success, Inzaghi said: "The lads had the perfect approach today, always sharp and focused. We need to enjoy this as beating Milan in a final is wonderful.

"Our first target for the season was to get through the group stage of the Champions League; the second was winning this trophy. It is pleasing for a coach to witness this."

Milan coach Stefano Pioli dismissed the suggestion his team are suffering from a lack of "hunger" as they prepare to face city rivals Inter in Wednesday's Supercoppa Italiana.

The Rossoneri have not won any of their previous three games as they threw away a 2-0 lead in a 2-2 draw with Roma, found themselves dumped out of the Coppa Italia by 10-man Torino, and then had to fight back from 2-0 down just to rescue a point at Lecce.

Although in that period they have moved above Juventus in the Serie A table to take ownership of second, Milan are now nine points behind leaders Napoli.

Much of the build-up to the Supercoppa has been centred around Milan and Inter – who are a point further back in Serie A – requiring a trophy success to boost their respective title chances.

But the suggestion Milan are less motivated than last year did not sit well with Pioli, who said: "How does such a young team that has only won on trophy not be hungry?

"There's only one thing we can control: the quality of our game. If we lower the quality, it becomes difficult to win games. It's not a question of having a 'full stomach'."

In fact, Pioli recognises Wednesday's game in Riyadh as an opportunity to have continuity in terms of success, with Milan hoping last season's Serie A title triumph was the start of a successful new era rather than a flash in the pan.

"It's an important match. We have the chance to win another trophy, it would mean giving continuity to the path we started," Pioli added.

"We know that the last week or so hasn't been the best, but tomorrow is a game in itself, like every other derby is.

"There is a trophy up for grabs and this raises the level of the match, and so we have to raise our level."

The idea that Supercoppa success could be a catalyst was also put to Pioli's counterpart, Simone Inzaghi.

Inter's board has reportedly made it clear to Inzaghi that they view beating Milan as a possible turning point in the season, though he is seemingly not convinced there is a link between victory in this game and subsequent improvement.

"We'll have to wait and see. I remember last year that we enjoyed the Supercoppa final win over Juventus in the right way, because a few days later we were back playing away to Bergamo," he recalled.

"Football never stops. Three days later, we were talking about a 0-0 draw in Bergamo against Atalanta.

"We need to just take one game at a time. Now we've got Milan, and we're preparing for it in the best way we can.

"The players need to work hard for their team-mates because in these types of games it's the only way you end the game without regrets."

Inter midfielder Roberto Gagliardini looks set to leave San Siro at the end of the season after claiming he needs more regular football.

The 28-year-old former Atalanta player, who has been capped by Italy, has started only two Serie A games this season for the Nerazzurri.

One of those came on Sunday when he helped Simone Inzaghi's team to a 1-0 win against Hellas Verona, playing the full game.

Gagliardini has featured off the bench six times in the Italian top flight this term, but he wants greater and more consistent involvement, and that will probably mean his future lies elsewhere.

He was praised by coach Inzaghi on Saturday, commended for an "excellent" display, but Gagliardini's contract expires at the end of the campaign and all signs point to a parting of ways during the Italian summer.

Bergamo-born Gagliardini told Sky Sport: "I'm no longer willing to have this playing time. I'm 28 years old, and I want to prove a lot.

"I'm more ready than a few years ago, because these years have seen great growth for me, in my head and in the reaction to the difficult moments, so in June I will make my decisions."

Gagliardini was a Serie A winner with Inter two years ago, but he was only a bit-part player in that success, starting four times and coming off the bench on nine occasions.

Responding to his player's comments, Inzaghi said in a press conference: "The important thing is that he does well on the pitch.

"He's highly regarded by everyone, he's a serious professional who works very well. He's had a few minor problems in the last year, but he's always gritted his teeth, guaranteeing his contribution."

Lautaro Martinez believes Inter can still catch runaway leaders Napoli in the Scudetto race but recognises the Nerazzurri cannot afford mistakes during the second half of the season.

The Argentina forward was the match winner against Hellas Verona on Saturday, with a third-minute strike – his ninth goal of the campaign – enough to secure a narrow 1-0 victory at San Siro.

Simone Inzaghi's side subsequently moved level with third-placed Juventus, although they still trail Napoli by 10 points after 18 matches.

Nevertheless, Martinez is confident the Nerazzurri have plenty of time to chase down the Partenopei.

"We knew that this would be a game like this, tough, as Verona man-mark all over the pitch," Martinez told Sky Sport Italia. "We scored early and then did what we had prepared. It was important to get all three points today.

"It is possible [to catch Napoli] as there is a long way to go yet. But we have to make no more mistakes; we need to get every point going or they will be too far away."

The Verona match was Inter's fourth in the space of 11 days, a sequence that began with a victory over Napoli.

Most recently, on Tuesday, Inter had been taken to extra time by Parma in the Coppa Italia, and Inzaghi felt the quick turnaround took its toll.

"We were coming off 120 minutes played on Tuesday, but the team remained sharp," Inzaghi said. 

"We scored early and then, despite a little tension in the closing stages, we remained solid and focused without suffering much against a Verona side that could cause us problems.

"I was concerned by our fitness levels with [Hakan] Calhanoglu and [Nicolo] Barella, who pushed themselves so hard to be available today. 

"They were in doubt until yesterday, while [Henrikh] Mkhitaryan, [Roberto] Gagliardini and [Kristjan] Asllani really helped out in these games with their midfield performances."

Simone Inzaghi praised his Inter players who "play less" despite coming within minutes of being eliminated from the Coppa Italia on Tuesday.

The holders trailed Serie B side Parma 1-0 with just three minutes remaining at San Siro, before Lautaro Martinez equalised and Francesco Acerbi headed in the winner in extra time to save their blushes and send them through to the quarter-finals.

The irony of Acerbi heading in the winner was not lost on Inzaghi after the centre-back's effort against Monza in their previous game was ruled out by the referee, causing consternation among the Inter camp as his whistle meant that the VAR could not intervene on what appeared to be a questionable call.

Inzaghi was not in the mood to dwell on the weekend's 2-2 draw in Serie A, instead praising the players who came in for cup duty and, eventually, delivered.

"The whole world saw what happened in Monza, but we were only interested in this game," the Nerazzurri head coach said. "We were doing fairly well even if we had to move the ball better. Then with their goal it got complicated, but I had an excellent response from those who play less.

"I would have liked to avoid extra time, but last year too with Empoli [3-2 win after extra time] it was difficult."

Inter trailed to a superb strike from substitute Stanko Juric in the 38th minute, and did not have a shot on target until Martinez forced an equaliser in the 88th.

In the second half of extra time, Acerbi reacted to a punched clearance from veteran goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon to head the ball over the 44-year-old and into the net.

Parma were the equals of their hosts for large parts of the contest, but Inzaghi insisted he was impressed by his team's effort.

"Those who have played the least have given excellent answers, we must continue like this," he added. "In the Champions League we have gone beyond expectations, in the league we lost points at the start, but there are many games to go."

Romelu Lukaku did not feature, but his coach believes the Belgium striker will have plenty to offer once they can get him fit and playing regularly.

"He remains fundamental for us," Inzaghi said. "He had an injury and had problems managing it. Saturday [v Monza] he was limited by his inflammatory problem. Tomorrow he will continue to rest, then day-by-day we would like to bring him back to the top. If we could have done that before, it would have given us the extra points we are missing."

Simone Inzaghi was left "very angry" after Inter had a third goal chalked off before conceding a late equaliser against Monza in their 2-2 draw on Saturday.

After Matteo Darmian's early opener was pegged back by Patrick Ciurria, Lautaro Martinez seized upon a Pablo Mari error to put Inter back ahead and seemingly on course for victory.

But with the score 2-1, referee Juan Luca Sacchi blew for a foul as a free-kick was swung into the Monza box, which Francesco Acerbi nodded in, for a contentious Roberto Gagliardini push.

With a goal that likely would have killed the game off ruled out, Inter suffered late heartbreak as Luca Caldirola scored in the 93rd minute to snatch a point for Raffaele Palladino's side and deny the Nerazzurri a fourth straight Serie A victory.

Inzaghi was fuming after the match, believing the referee's early whistle cost his side all three points as they missed the chance to move within five points of leaders Napoli, ahead of the Partenopei's visit to Sampdoria on Sunday.

"I'm very angry at what I saw," Inzaghi told reporters. "Unfortunately, after five years of VAR, there was an error that penalised us.

"A clear mistake on Acerbi's goal, there are two Monza players who fell between them. It's a huge disappointment on our part.

"I complimented Palladino, [but] without that mistake we would have won the match."

Romelu Lukaku impressed for Inter as they ended Napoli's unbeaten start to the season on Wednesday, but Inzaghi opted to start Martinez alongside Edin Dzeko up top against Monza, over the Belgium international.

With Lukaku struggling for fitness, Inzaghi is unsure when the striker will be back to his best, saying: "Time will tell, he's training in the best possible way.

"He had a very good first half with Napoli, today it was difficult. We'll do the analysis tomorrow when we'll be more rested."

Asked whether he felt Inter sat back too much late in the game, inviting Monza on, Inzaghi replied: "In the first half we conceded little or nothing.

"There are always difficult opponents, Monza are organised and have excellent players.

"Without what we've seen [Acerbi's disallowed goal], there wouldn't have been this question.

"Now we start again. It's normal that there is huge disappointment on everyone's part."

Inter missed the chance for a fourth straight Serie A victory as Luca Caldirola's late equaliser snatched a 2-2 draw for Monza on Saturday.

Simone Inzaghi's men ended leaders Napoli's unbeaten start to the season on Wednesday, and they got off to a great start at U-Power Stadium as Matteo Darmian fired in from Alessandro Bastoni's cross.

Ater Patrick Ciurria superbly levelled, Lautaro Martinez looked to have earned Inter victory when he took advantage of Pablo Mari's error to smash his side 2-1 ahead.

However, substitute Caldirola nodded home in the 93rd minute to spark jubilant celebrations from the hosts and deny Inter all three points.

Inter's desire to "win at all costs" against Napoli helped them to end the Serie A leaders' unbeaten start, explained head coach Simone Inzaghi.

Napoli had won 11 straight Serie A games prior to the World Cup break as they headed into Wednesday's meeting with Inter at San Siro holding an 11-point lead over their hosts.

But a superb performance from Inzaghi's men was capped with a 56th-minute headed winner from Edin Dzeko as Inter picked up valuable points in their hunt for a 20th Serie A title.

Inzaghi was delighted with his team's display after the game, and cited their resolute mentality as a key reason for the 1-0 victory.

"Inter were organised and wanted to win at all costs," Inzaghi told reporters. "I have to congratulate the guys on the pitch, they helped each other with haste and determination.

"Tonight I bring the happiness of the victory to dedicate to the fans."

Inzaghi chose to start a front two of Dzeko and Romelu Lukaku, before the pair were replaced at a goal up by Joaquin Correa and returning World Cup hero Lautaro Martinez.

The Inter head coach is a big fan of the options he has in attack, saying: "There are four, my wish is to have them all available. I have some intelligent boys. Playing every three days, I will have the opportunity to change it."

Inzaghi hoped the victory over Napoli would spur his team on as they look to close the eight-point deficit to the summit, having now won three consecutive Serie A matches.

"We must continue like this," Inzaghi told DAZN. "Tonight is a great injection of confidence.

"I'm proud of my boys, it's a pleasure to see them like this. We had a great match but we have to continue like this.

"In the league we lost points initially, but it's still a long way [to go]. We have to think match-by-match."

Napoli have scored a league-leading 37 goals this Serie A season, but they were restricted to just two shots on target by Inter as the likes of Victor Osimhen and Khvicha Kvaratskhelia were kept quiet.

Partenopei head coach Luciano Spalletti lamented his side's poor attacking output at San Siro, saying at his post-match news conference: "We were below all our offensive qualities.

"We can do more both as an offensive department and how to prepare the offensive department for important plays. We passed the ball around well in some stretches, but we were not very incisive.

"We need more personality and strength, we have these qualities. I didn't like the fact that we were shy in some moments."

Most football seasons carry a degree of unpredictability; that's just the nature of sport.

But it's certainly arguable that this season is among the least predictable in living memory due to the unique timing of the World Cup, which took place across November and December for the first time.

In Italy, Napoli would've presumably been the team most frustrated by the timing of Qatar 2022. On course for a first Scudetto since 1990 and the days of Diego Maradona, the Partenopei had been head and shoulders above the rest in Serie A before the World Cup and among the most eye-catching sides in Europe.

They'd lost just once – a 2-0 Champions League defeat at Liverpool – and won all but three matches across all competitions prior to the season's break. So, the key question facing them now is, can momentum survive a two-month hiatus?

The next 10 days or so will give us a fairly clear indication of just how good Napoli are.

Napoli's testing return

Napoli return to action in 2023 with one of the most-anticipated games of the season. Not only are their title credentials set for a thorough examination, but Inter could do with a positive result to kick-start their season.

Simone Inzaghi's men sit fifth, 11 points behind Napoli. A spell of four defeats in six Serie A games between August and October gave Inter an uphill struggle right from the early weeks of the season.

They recovered, to an extent, but did also lose to Juventus in early November. You'd have to think their chances of regaining the title they won in 2021, but relinquished to city rivals Milan last season, will disappear into the realms of impossibility if they are beaten on Wednesday.

Some might even suggest that's the case already. After all, Stats Perform's AI prediction model gives them only a 4.3 per cent chance of finishing the season top – though that is at least higher than the two teams directly above them.

It's not just this Inter clash that Napoli fans will have on their minds, however.

They host bitter rivals Juventus on January 13, and like Inter, the Bianconeri will also still harbour title hopes. That's assuming they don't suffer the unlikely fate of losing to Udinese – whose form tailed off after an incredible start – and winless Cremonese in the interim.

Perhaps all this talk of the title is a bit daft when you consider Napoli's clash with Juve won't even be the halfway point of the season: there remains a long way to go.

However, when a team has been as good as Napoli were before the World Cup, it's only normal to start considering how many more opportunities their rivals have.

Inter potentially have a joker in the pack, though.

Romelu's redemption?

It's been a difficult 18 months for Romelu Lukaku. His highly anticipated return to Chelsea was underwhelming, to say the least, and resulted in him making his way back to Inter.

"It's like coming home," he said. But injuries restricted the 29-year-old to just four appearances in Serie A before the World Cup, therefore Italy is very much still waiting for the real Lukaku to return.

In fact, the world is still waiting. Let's not forget, Lukaku did feature for Belgium in Qatar but did little to rebuild his fractured reputation.

Granted, injuries again limited his involvement but that performance against Croatia as Belgium were knocked out at the group stage was remarkable. He had five shots equalling 1.7 expected goals (xG), including three absolute sitters, yet he failed to convert any.

But if Lukaku does get back to anything like what he showed during his previous spell in San Siro, there's every reason to expect a slightly different Inter between now and the end of the season.

During those two campaigns with the Nerazzurri, Lukaku's haul of 47 league goals was bettered by only four players across the top five leagues. Similarly, his 35 non-penalty (np) strikes was only slightly above his np-xG (33.1 – also the fifth-highest in the top five leagues), which supports the idea he was dependable without being regularly lucky.

Of course, Antonio Conte's system at Inter was what many considered key in Lukaku's improvement. His pace, strength and running power – helped of course by his finishing ability – made the Belgian almost unplayable in a transition-based side.

Chelsea never saw the same player partly because Thomas Tuchel is a more possession-orientated coach; those opportunities to release Lukaku in behind defences just weren't as frequent and he arguably isn't technically good enough to be a key player in such a setup.

As such, Inzaghi was aware he'd have to change his tactics somewhat to adjust to Lukaku this season – this will be tested to the max over the coming weeks, and its success will likely determine Inter's campaign one way or the other.

Simone Inzaghi could throw Lautaro Martinez in at the deep end against Napoli and ask the World Cup winner to save Inter's flagging hopes of Serie A glory.

Argentina striker Martinez only arrived back in Italy at the end of last week, having played a part in his national team's Qatar 2022 triumph and subsequent celebrations.

His tournament performances left a little to be desired, but Martinez still emerged with a winner's medal, and Inter head coach Inzaghi believes he has plenty to offer the Nerazzurri.

Inter sit fifth in Serie A after 15 rounds of games, already 11 points behind undefeated leaders Napoli ahead of Wednesday's clash at San Siro.

Inter have won their last four home Serie A matches against Napoli, after victories in just two of the previous seven, and they urgently need to stretch that strong run to shuffle back into the title picture.

"After a long time, I have four forwards available," Inzaghi told a press conference on Tuesday.

"I've never had them in the year that just ended. Lautaro arrived four days ago but trained well, I saw [Angel] Correa better. [Edin] Dzeko and [Romelu] Lukaku had more chances to train with the team, my hope is to be able to have them throughout this tour de force.

"For tomorrow I still have to make evaluations."

Inzaghi, a former striker himself, said there were still "some uncertainties" over who would start in Inter's attack against a team he rates as the continent's best.

Napoli have won their last 11 Serie A matches, with no team having bettered that since Juventus strung 12 together in a row from December 2017 to March 2018.

Martinez has a strong track record against the Naples giants, having scored four goals against them in Serie A, including the third Inter goal in a 3-2 win in this fixture last season. He has only hit more against Salernitana (five) and Cagliari (eight), and three of those four goals have come at San Siro.

He has seven goals in the league already this season.

Inter will be hoping the seven-week break for the World Cup means Napoli are knocked out of their stride, allowing Inzaghi's team to make a whirlwind start to the year.

"We can't wait to start again, we want to take to the field,," Inzaghi said. "Last year it was an exciting match that gave us great impetus.

"It's a very important match where the tension will probably be more on our side but the beauty of football is being able to play matches like this.

"There are 23 games left to go so there are lots of points up for grabs and Inter like others who are chasing have the desire to shorten the lead on what is currently the best team in Europe."

Inzaghi brushed off questioning about Milan Skriniar's future, with the Inter defender now in the final six months of his contract.

"He's an extraordinary boy who gives everything on the pitch," Inzaghi said. "Apart from him, there are several players whose contracts are about to expire, but I know there is a strong club that is always by my side and working for the best in all situations."

Inter head coach Simone Inzaghi attributed Andre Onana's suspension by Cameroon at the World Cup to a "misunderstanding".

The 26-year-old Nerazzurri goalkeeper was dropped for his country's second group game against Serbia, subsequently leaving Qatar before their final game against Brazil.

Onana issued a statement in the wake of his shock demotion, which Cameroon team officials put down to undisclosed "disciplinary reasons".

Reports suggested Onana's omission came after a disagreement with boss Rigobert Song over his playing style in the 1-0 loss against Switzerland, when he had the most touches outside the box by a goalkeeper ever recorded in a World Cup match (26).

Inzaghi has spoken to Onana since his departure and does not believe he has been affected by the situation.

"I've spoken to all the guys involved in the World Cup," he said. "We have four who made it to the quarter-finals.

"Romelu Lukaku and Onana are out; they will arrive between Friday and Saturday and join the group. Physically they are all fine, we are expecting them.

"There was a misunderstanding that he [Onana] paid for, but I spoke to him and he is calm.

"I can talk about what happened at Inter. He's a positive guy; when he had to be on the bench he stayed there, when he had to play he played.

"On Friday he'll be in Appiano and will start working with us."

Inzaghi also had his say on Lukaku, who endured a torrid time as Belgium crashed out in the group stage with a 0-0 draw against Croatia in their final game.

The Inter striker was brought on at half-time by Red Devils boss Roberto Martinez, but conspired to miss a host of wonderful chances to win the game for his side.

"Clearly he was disappointed," Inzaghi added. "It's a World Cup and he cares so much about his national team.

"He played 45 minutes and he had three chances. If you are getting the chances, a striker has to stay calm."

Inter return to Serie A action on January 4 against Napoli, but have friendlies against Salzburg, Real Betis, Reggina and Sassuolo before then.

Page 1 of 11
© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.