Inter Milan boss Simone Inzaghi has urged his side to improve their concentration as they visit Torino on Saturday.

Inter lost ground at the top of Serie A when they threw away a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 at home to Bologna, allowing city rivals AC Milan to open up a two-point lead.

A tough test awaits when they head to Turin and Inzaghi knows his side cannot afford any more lapses.

“There will be a need for a very high concentration and desire to do well because a very difficult match awaits us. Intense,” he told Inter TV.

“We are working hard on the defensive organisation. The league table and performance in Europe say we are doing well, but we need to improve again: in the last match, for example, we conceded two clearly avoidable goals and therefore we must make progress day after day.

“The whole team must participate in the non-possession phase.

“Preparing for the first game back from a break is never easy. Most of the players got back on Wednesday, the South Americans yesterday.

“We know that Torino are a good team with a coach in his third year with them. We’ll need a great Inter performance.”

 

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Scoring goals is certainly not a problem, with 21 in eight games, but Inzaghi thinks there is more to come.

“It’s true, we score a lot and with different players, but we know that we can still improve this figure,” he added. “By training as best we can and finding more goals also with our defenders, with the midfielders.”

Captain Lautaro Martinez has been at the forefront of that, scoring 11 goals in 10 appearances.

“Lautaro is a player with a huge sense of belonging,” Inzaghi added. “He’s improved a lot in the last couple of years and, of course, the armband has given him more responsibility. He also has top team-mates who always try to set him up.”

Inter will assess their players, including Nicolo Barella, as they return from international duty.

Inter secured Champions League qualification in their penultimate game of the Serie A season, dealing a fatal blow to Atalanta's own top-four hopes with a 3-2 win at San Siro.

The Nerazzurri – finalists in Europe's premier club competition this term – stormed into a two-goal lead within just two minutes and 49 seconds after Romelu Lukaku and Nicolo Barella were on target. 

Atalanta needed a result to keep their slim hopes of a top-four finish alive, and they were handed a lifeline by Mario Pasalic before the interval on Saturday.

Yet Inter added a deserved third through Lautaro Martinez after the break, proving Andre Onana's late own goal a mere Atalanta consolation, as the Nerazzurri moved eight points clear of their fifth-placed visitors.

Lukaku only needed 39 seconds to put Inter ahead, timing his run from Martinez's throughball before rounding Marco Sportiello and tapping into an empty net.

Atalanta found themselves further behind by the three-minute mark, Barella hammering a rebound into the roof of the net after Sportiello twice saved from Federico Dimarco.

Hakan Calhanoglu was denied a third by the offside flag when he netted with a ferocious volley, before Andre Onana was forced into action by Rasmus Hojlund and Teun Koopmeiners.

Atalanta halved the arrears nine minutes before half-time, Pasalic hooking a finish beyond Onana following a goalmouth scramble.

Calhanoglu drew a flying save from Sportiello as Atalanta wilted after the interval, Inter managing the game in typically assured fashion.

Martinez stretched Inter's lead further when Marcelo Brozovic teed up a tap-in 13 minutes from time, before Luis Muriel's powerful long-range strike deflected in off the unfortunate Onana as the Nerazzurri just held on for victory.

A Milan derby awaits in the Champions League semi-finals after Inter made it past Benfica with a 3-3 draw on Wednesday, sealing a 5-3 aggregate victory.

Following Milan's passage to the final four after they eliminated Napoli on Tuesday, Inter just had to see out their quarter-final second leg against the Lisbon side having taken a 2-0 lead into the clash at San Siro.

As he did in the first leg, Nicolo Barella gave Inter the lead with an excellent finish, before Fredrik Aursnes equalised for the visitors with a powerful header before half-time.

Lautaro Martinez put Inter back in front, before substitute Joaquin Correa added another with a fine effort, though late goals from Antonio Silva and Petar Musa meant Roger Schmidt's men at least ended their recent losing run.

Barella put the hosts in front in the 14th minute when the determined midfielder battled his way into the Benfica box after a one-two with Martinez, before cutting onto his left foot and finishing splendidly into the top left corner.

Martinez had a goal ruled out in the 33rd minute after his header at the far post squirmed under Odisseas Vlachodimos, with the Benfica goalkeeper relieved to see a foul given against the Argentine for a push on Gilberto.

From nowhere though, Benfica were level in the game after Rafa Silva's perfect cross from the right allowed Aursnes to send a bullet header past Andre Onana seven minutes before the break.

Inter effectively ended their opponent's hopes when they scored a second in the 65th minute. Federico Dimarco played a one-two on the left with Henrikh Mkhitaryan, before crossing for Martinez to finish into the roof of the net

Correa scored a third for Inter just two minutes after coming off the bench as he cut inside from the left and bent an effort in off the far post.

Antonio Silva headed in for the visitors from an inswinging Alex Grimaldo free-kick before Musa swept in a loose ball to equalise, but the Nerazzurri confirmed they will face their city rivals in the semi-finals.

Joao Cancelo has spent the second half of this season on loan at Bayern Munich, having fallen out of starting XI favour at Manchester City.

The Portugal full-back had penned a contract extension with City in January last year, tying him down to 2027.

But Cancelo's time at Bayern has reportedly not convinced the Germans to pursue a permanent deal, creating uncertainty about his future.


TOP STORY – MADRID TO MAKE CANCELO BID

Real Madrid are interested in a move for Joao Cancelo and will submit a bid of around €60million (£52.8m) to Manchester City for his services, claims Fichajes.

The report claims Madrid are eager to improve their current first-choice full-backs Ferland Mendy and Dani Carvajal, hence the interest in the Portuguese.

Los Blancos like the versatility of Cancelo, who has made 13 appearances with only eight starts since joining Bayern in January.


ROUND-UP

– Florian Plettenberg claims Liverpool's shortlist for midfielders includes West Ham United's Declan Rice, Wolves' Matheus Nunes, Inter's Nicolo Barella and Brighton and Hove Albion's Moises Caicedo having dropped out of the race for Jude Bellingham.

Barcelona are ready to ramp up their advances to sign Manchester City's Ilkay Gundogan after being impressed by his midweek Champion League display against Bayern Munich, reports Sport.

– Bayern midfielder Ryan Gravenberch has interest from Premier League trio Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United, reports Footmercato.

Chris Smalling is set to pen a new two-year deal with Roma according to iSport, amid interest from Inter, Juventus and some Premier League clubs.

– Bild claims RB Leipzig midfielder Konrad Laimer will join Bayern on a four-year deal in the off-season. Laimer's Leipzig deal ends at the end of this season.

Simone Inzaghi feels his Inter team must repeat their first-leg performance at San Siro after a 2-0 victory at Benfica left them in the ascendancy of their Champions League quarter-final.

Inter headed into Tuesday's contest at Estadio da Luz on a dismal run of form, failing to win in their last six in all competitions.

But second-half goals from Nicolo Barella and Romelu Lukaku mean they are in the driver's seat as they look to get past Benfica and reach their first Champions League last four since they last lifted the famous trophy in the 2009-10 season.

Inter must first ensure they see out the quarter-final, though, and Inzaghi urged his team to replicate their strong first-leg display to seal their progression on home turf next Wednesday.

"I am very satisfied with the match played by the boys," Inzaghi told reporters at his post-match news conference. "We are enjoying the evening and we know we have taken the first step towards the semi-final.

"We will have a return match against a demanding team that was previously unbeaten [in this season's Champions League]. The boys were good; we deserved this victory. But in the Champions League we know that the result is not closed.

"Benfica are a quality team, very strong. We know we have an advantage in the second leg. We will have to repeat the match we played in Lisbon in Milan."

Inter's second-half showing was much better than their first, accumulating just 0.11 xG (expected goals) in the opening 45 minutes while managing only two touches in Benfica's box.

Barella's fine header to put them 1-0 up in the 51st minute was the visitors' first attempt on target, and Inzaghi blamed his team's hectic recent schedule for their lacklustre start, explaining: "Let's not forget that it's the fourth game in a few days, the third in six.

"The calendar is almost impossible, but we are Inter and in these two years we have never left anything behind. We know that there are objective difficulties due to tiredness, but I have tried to alternate a lot. We needed fresh faces."

Inzaghi has faced much criticism for Inter's poor recent form, with the Nerazzurri's failure to pick up maximum points in their last four Serie A matches, suffering three defeats during that time, leaving them out of the Champions League places.

The Inter head coach is focusing on his team, rather than outside noise, saying: "I'm used to it – criticism is part of the job. The important thing is to get answers from my players.

"Despite what was said, I was serene and calm. Sometimes you have to be clear-headed; you have to watch the games and leave aside the results."

Nicolo Barella and Romelu Lukaku scored as Inter earned a 2-0 victory at Benfica in their Champions League quarter-final first leg on Tuesday.

In a tense affair at the Estadio da Luz, both teams found it hard to create opportunities, though the hosts shaded the first half as they pressed to get their noses in front on home soil.

But a rare moment of attacking quality from Barella put Inter ahead, before substitute Lukaku scored from the spot to clinch the win for the Serie A side.

Simone Inzaghi's men are now very much in control heading into the second leg, set to be played at San Siro next Wednesday.

The first half was a cagey affair with clear-cut chances few and far between, though Rafa Silva nearly punished a defensive mistake when he saw a blasted effort denied by Andre Onana after pouncing upon Federico Dimarco's loose header.

Francesco Acerbi also sent a fierce drive from range just over the crossbar as the game went into the interval goalless, with Inter managing just two touches in Benfica's box in the first half.

But the visitors would take the lead in the 51st minute with their first shot on target, Barella's delightful back-post header nestling in the bottom corner after Alessandro Bastoni's cross picked him out.

The hosts nearly levelled when Rafa saw a shot blocked before an almighty goalmouth scramble ended with Inter finally clearing.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan could, and perhaps should, have doubled his side's advantage after he was played in by Joaquin Correa, but his shot from a tight angle was well saved by Odisseas Vlachodimos.

Inter would add a second goal before the end, though, as Lukaku lashed home a penalty after Joao Mario handled Denzel Dumfries' cross to leave the Portuguese side up against it if they are to reach their first Champions League semi-final in 23 years.

Liverpool's underwhelming 2022-23 campaign has led to talk that the club will undertake a squad overhaul in the off-season.

Chief among Jurgen Klopp's priorities is a midfield revamp, with Borussia Dortmund's Jude Bellingham and Chelsea's Mason Mount among those linked to the Reds.

However, there could also be another attempt at signing a France international they were beaten to in 2022 by Real Madrid.

TOP STORY – YOU CAN NEVER HAVE TCHOUAMENI MIDFIELDERS

Real Madrid's Aurelien Tchouameni is once again high on Liverpool's transfer agenda as they look to refresh their midfield, reports El Nacional.

The Reds were interested in the 23-year-old at the end of last season but were unable to land him after he chose to move from Monaco to Madrid for a reported €100 million on a six-year deal.

Though he started Saturday's 3-2 home defeat to Villarreal, Tchouameni has been unable to establish himself as a frequent starter under Carlo Ancelotti, meaning Los Blancos may be willing to let him go to raise funds, with Liverpool reportedly still keen and willing to offer £71m (€80m).

ROUND-UP

– Calciomercatoweb claims Inter are warming to the idea of Nicolo Barella exiting San Siro, as Liverpool circle for the midfielder as part of their revamp. Inter reportedly want no less than €50m (£44m) for him.

Barcelona's discussions with Ousmane Dembele over a new contract have stopped, with the Catalans unable to offer him a pay rise, reports SPORT.

ArsenalChelsea and Villarreal are all interested in Wolfsburg full-back Ridle Baku, claims Caught Offside.

– Newcastle United and West Ham United are leading the race to sign Wilfried Zaha on a free transfer from Crystal Palace, according to The Star.

– The Mirror reports ex-Leeds United boss Jesse Marsch has agreed to a long-term deal to take over at Leicester City following Brendan Rodgers' dismissal.

Marcus Thuram will leave Borussia Moenchengladbach at the end of this season when his contract expires.

As a result, the 25-year-old French forward is garnering plenty of interest from top European clubs.

Thuram has scored 14 goals in all competitions this season for Gladbach, having been part of France's 2022 World Cup squad.

 

TOP STORY – THURAM OFFERED TO BARCELONA

Marcus Thuram's agent has offered the French forward to Barcelona as an off-season signing, according to Mundo Deportivo.

Thuram has interest from Chelsea, Manchester United, Paris Saint-Germain, Atletico Madrid and Inter.

Barcelona's economic challenges mean they have prioritised signing players on free transfers in recent times with Thuram offering that plus flexibility in attack.

 

ROUND-UP

– Fichajes claims Cristiano Ronaldo wants Sergio Ramos to join him at Saudi Arabian club Al Nassr, with the defender's contract with PSG to expire at the end of this season. Ramos will leave it late to make a decision, holding out hope for a PSG extension.

Liverpool will battle Bayern Munich in the off-season for the signature of Juventus striker Dusan Vlahovic, reports Calciomercatoweb.

Barcelona, Real Madrid and Chelsea are all interested in Inter's Marcelo Brozovic, with the Serie A club open to selling him, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport.

Manchester United are weighing up a move for Bayer Leverkusen right-back Jeremie Frimpong, reports Football Insider. Fabrizio Romano claims numerous top clubs are interested in the Dutch defender.

– La Gazzetta dello Sport claims Liverpool are tracking Inter's Nicolo Barella as they look to bolster their midfield options.

West Ham, Fulham, Crystal Palace and Brentford are all circling for Milan forward Olivier Giroud,  who is open to a return to England, claims The Sun.

Simone Inzaghi says the heated on-field exchange between Inter team-mates Nicolo Barella and Romelu Lukaku is understandable as both players were showing their desire.

Barella and Lukaku could be seen arguing during a frustrating first half for Inter in their goalless Serie A draw against Sampdoria on Monday.

Lukaku angrily wagged his finger at Barella after the Italy international had petulantly waved his arms in the air.

Asked to explain the mid-game dispute between his two players, Inzaghi tried to take positives out of the situation.

"Barella is totally committed to the cause. He has so much motivation and always wants to win," Inzaghi told Inter TV.

"The desire can at times spill over, but we all know what kind of person he is. I have confidence in him and the rest of the team."

Barella and Lukaku are in contention to start Inter's home league match against Udinese on Saturday as they look to return to winning ways in Serie A.

Inter may find themselves 18 points behind Napoli by then, with the leaders travelling to Sassuolo on Friday.

Despite having a big Champions League last-16 first-leg tie with Porto coming up on Wednesday, Inzaghi suggested he does not intend to rest any key players against Udinese.

"We will need to be at our best. I may be repetitive but despite the Champions League on the horizon, the focus is on Inter-Udinese," he said.

"I think that our biggest motivation tomorrow comes from wanting to win in front of our fans.

"I will make the necessary assessments. I will rely on all players, the starters and those on the bench."

Manchester City are reportedly planning a move for Leicester City midfielder James Maddison at the end of the season.

Maddison, 26, has been one of the top goal-creating midfielders in the Premier League over the past couple of seasons, collecting seven goals and four assists from 14 fixtures this campaign after a 2021-22 season with 12 goals and eight assists.

He closed last campaign with goals in each of his final four Premier League outings and was heavily sought after in pre-season, but Leicester opted to hold onto their midfield star.

Regardless of what happens in the second half of the season, Maddison has less than 18 months remaining on his contract and has reportedly shown no interest in extending, which will likely force Leicester's hand unless they want to lose him on a free transfer as appears likely with Youri Tielemans.

TOP STORY – CITY VIEW MADDISON AS KEY COG IN THEIR FUTURE MIDFIELD

According to the Daily Mail, City boss Pep Guardiola is an admirer of Maddison, and with plenty of upheaval expected in the club's engine room, a space could open up for the Foxes star.

The report states Leicester set their asking price at £60million when Newcastle United came knocking prior to this season, but they held firm as the offers "did not come close" to their valuation.

City midfielders Ilkay Gundogan and Bernardo Silva are both expected to depart at the conclusion of the campaign, and their supposed £70m demand for the latter would likely pay for Maddison's arrival.

Leicester are already set to lose Tielemans on a free transfer after spending £32m to purchase his services in 2019, and they will likely be eager to avoid a similar fate with Maddison, while Brendan Rodgers could then use the fee to fund a mini rebuild.

ROUND-UP

– Calciomercato is reporting Chelsea enquired about 25-year-old Inter midfielder Nicolo Barella but were told the Italian club have no interest in selling, as he remains tied to the club until 2026.

– According to Sky Sports Italia, disgruntled Roma forward Nicolo Zaniolo had a change of heart and wanted to head to Bournemouth, but the English side turned him down after spending their funds elsewhere.

– Fabrizio Romano is reporting Barcelona have an anxious wait to see if their €4m ($4.35m) transfer for 21-year-old LA Galaxy defender Julian Araujo will be processed as the deal was signed seconds after the deadline.

– Manchester United captain Harry Maguire never considered a loan move to Inter and will remain with the club until at least the end of the season, per Fabrizio Romano.

Italy midfielder Nicolo Barella claims the Azzurri should have been at the World Cup "by right" after being crowned European champions.

A stunning 1-0 defeat to North Macedonia in a play-off qualification game in March eliminated Italy, who were almost totally dominant but conceded the game's only goal in second-half stoppage time.

It meant four-time winners Italy have failed to qualify for two consecutive World Cups, unprecedented in their history, and Inter star Barella has felt unable to watch the tournament due to his gripe that he should be involved.

In fact, he suggested the latest winners of the European and South American championships should always be granted automatic places at the World Cup. Such a move would be unlikely to go down well with confederations from other continents, unless they were also cut in on such an arrangement.

Italy, who won the delayed Euro 2020 finals last year, remain devastated by their World Cup qualifying stumble.

"I haven't seen half a match of the World Cup yet, I can't understand the feeling I feel," Barella said.

"They say that the pitch is always right, but for me in this case it gave an unfair response. Today it was our turn, maybe tomorrow it will be the turn of others: whoever wins a European Championship or a Copa America deserves to go to a World Cup by right."

Barella's suggestion is similar to one from Roberto Mancini, the Italy head coach, last month. Mancini also said the champions of every continent should be awarded an automatic spot at the World Cup.

Barella hopes to go to the 2026 tournament, which will be co-hosted by Mexico, Canada and the United States, and can see him remaining an Inter player through to that time.

A host of teams, including Chelsea and Liverpool from the Premier League, have been linked as possible suitors for Barella, who has a contract with Inter that runs through to 2026.

"We have to get there first," he said of the next World Cup, "but yeah, I see myself on the pitch in 2026 still as an Inter player."

Whether Milan Skriniar remains at Inter for so long must be in major doubt.

Paris Saint-Germain wanted him in the last transfer window and may come back in January, and the 27-year-old Slovakian centre-back is due to lapse out of contract at the end of the season.

Barella will let Skriniar make his own decisions about the future, insisting others should not play any part.

"I will never allow myself to give him advice," Barella said. "Everyone makes their choices. Then, at the end of his career, we will see if they were right or wrong. I hope he stays because in addition to being incredibly strong, he is a brother."

Nicolo Barella maintained his impressive goalscoring form as Inter eased to a 3-0 victory over Sampdoria on Saturday to make it four Serie A wins in a row.

Simone Inzaghi's side have put their early-season struggles behind them with this their seventh match without defeat in all competitions, six of those ending in victory.

Midfielder Barella rounded off a route-one move to double Inter's advantage at San Siro before half-time after Stefan de Vrij had opened the scoring with a header.

Inter, who brought on Romelu Lukaku for his first league appearance since August, added another goal through a superb Joaquin Correa solo effort to seal an emphatic victory.

De Vrij sent a bullet header past Emil Audero with 22 minutes played for his first goal of the season after being picked out by Hakan Calhanoglu from a corner.

Inter continued to dominate and had a second goal just before the interval when Barella controlled a long pass from Alessandro Bastoni and powered a shot past Audero.

Inzaghi introduced the returning Lukaku and Correa in the second half and it took the latter just five minutes to add his name to the scoresheet against his former side.

Argentina international Correa carried the ball from one penalty area to the other and curled in a third goal for the hosts to round off the scoring.

Inter head coach Simone Inzaghi was proud of his team's "mature" performance after they ran out 3-1 winners over Cremonese at San Siro on Tuesday.

Joaquin Correa and Nicolo Barella scored first half goals to set them on the way to victory and Lautaro Martinez added a third with a precise finish, before David Okereke netted a late consolation.

The win for Inter is a positive response after they were beaten 3-1 by Lazio on Friday, and three points move them into second above rivals Milan, who they face on Saturday.

Inzaghi was pleased with his side's response to the defeat against Lazio, telling DAZN: "I am very happy, we won a difficult match against a team that collected less than they deserved.

"We have one point more than last year, the condition is improving, we know that we will face many matches, we must definitely improve.

"We were criticised after the match against Lazio, against a very strong team, but there was a lot of noise about this defeat, but today we played a mature game."

When questioned on the significance of moving above Milan ahead of Saturday's derby, Inzaghi replied: "It means nothing.

"It seems to me too early to look at the standings. Tonight I saw the reaction of a mature team."

The pressure mounted on Paris Saint-Germain again after another defeat in Ligue 1 this weekend.

The Parisians are 12 points clear at the top but have lost four of their past six games.

Lionel Messi has only netted twice in Ligue 1 since his move from Barcelona, while fellow free signing Sergio Ramos has also only played five times.

 

TOP STORY – PSG TO BLOCK MESSI OR RAMOS RETURNS

Marca reports that PSG would block any potential return to Barcelona or Real Madrid for either Messi or Ramos respectively.

The Ligue 1 giants signed both players last year from those respective clubs, yet there has been reports claiming they may want to return to Spain.

Ramos has struggled with injury while Messi has not been able to discover his best goalscoring form, but PSG are eager to hold on to them.

Messi joined on a two-year deal last August, while Ramos also penned a two-year deal last July.

 

ROUND-UP

- Bayern Munich have made an opening bid for Ajax's Ryan Gravenberch according to Fabrizio Romano. The fee is approximately €25million but Ajax want more.

- Chelsea, Liverpool, PSG and Madrid are all circling for Monaco's Aurelien Tchouameni but the Ligue 1 club will not accept less than €50m for him claims Foot Mercato.

- Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti wants to sign Inter midfielder Nicolo Barella according to El Nacional. Barella's arrival could force Toni Kroos out too.

- Aston Villa are prepared to pay £60m for Leeds United midfielder Kalvin Phillips claims The Times.

Edin Dzeko scored a dramatic late winner as Inter came from behind to defeat Venezia 2-1 at San Siro on Saturday.

Simone Inzaghi's men looked destined to drop points at home in Serie A for only the third time since October 2020 but Dzeko – who was previously wasteful – delivered the goods at the end.

Thomas Henry had put Venezia in front against the run of play with an excellent header, before Nicolo Barella ensured Inter went into the break level.

The Nerazzurri piled the pressure on in the second half but their efforts seemed set to be for little until Dzeko nodded in a 90th-minute winner.

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