Inter v Torino Preview: Nerazzurri can catch Roma, claims Mancini

The in-form San Siro side go in search of a fifth straight home win in Serie A – a feat they have not achieved since May 2011 – when they host the Granata

Roberto Mancini has called for Inter to remain focused as they begin a pivotal run-in to the Serie A season at home to Torino on Sunday.

Inter are in with a chance of qualifying for next season’s Champions League – they sit five points adrift of third-placed Roma in the table with eight games remaining – having picked up three wins and a draw before the international break.

As domestic leagues return to action across Europe, Mancini’s side find themselves up against opponents who have not registered a league victory since February 14.

The former Manchester City manager hopes the gap between fixtures has not put an end to Inter’s run of good form, as they look to record a fifth straight home win in Serie A for the first time since May 2011.

“It was the last break of the season so it’s straight through to the end now,” Mancini told the club’s official website. 

“We have to keep doing what we’ve been doing in recent weeks. There are lots of points still to be won and everyone has tough games to play. 

“If we can put together a good number of wins we can make up the gap.”

Inter held a 1-0 lead away at Roma on March 19 but had to settle for a draw after Radja Nainggolan scored a late equaliser for the hosts at the Stadio Olimpico.

“Perhaps we should have killed the game off – like other times – because you can always let a goal in at the end,” Mancini admitted.

“But obviously Roma were pressing us really hard looking for an equaliser at that stage. Up until then we’d defended very well.”

As for the visitors, Torino coach Giampiero Ventura found himself having to answer questions about his own future at his pre-match media conference.

“I never wanted to talk about my future because I consider it daft. I still have two years on my contract, I read of so many coaches who are supposed to be coming here, but this is football,” he said.

“As of today I think I am still the coach, because I have a contract, an important project and a lot of anger within me to show what we could’ve achieved.

“When I say mistakes were made, I include my own. I am really looking forward to the future.”

Ventura did confirm Torino will be without striker Ciro Immobile, who was taken off with a thigh injury at half-time during the 4-1 derby defeat against Juventus last time out.

Mancini keen to improve Inter's attacking options with return of Ibrahimovic

The battle for PSG’s prize asset continues to rumble on as the blue half of Milan confirm their interest in bringing the Sweden International back for a second stint at the club

Roberto Mancini has thrown Inter’s hat into the ring as a potential destination for Zlatan Ibrahimovic next season.

The Paris Saint-Germain striker is expected to leave the French capital when his current contract expires in June, ending a four-year stay that has seen him claim 10 domestic trophies – including four Ligue 1 titles.

A move to the Premier League, Serie A, MLS and even the Chinese Super League have all been suggested, with Arsenal, Manchester United and former club AC Milan having been heavily linked with the Sweden international.

But Mancini would like to see the 34-year-old return to Inter – where he scored 57 goals in 88 appearances from 2006-2009 – although he knows there will be stiff competition for the player’s signature.

“His profile is suited to all teams,” Mancini told reporters. “So I don’t think there’s a club out there that wouldn’t like him.

“[But] I am not convinced Ibrahimovic will leave Paris Saint-Germain.”
READ MORE  | Mancini: Inter still in race for top-three finish
 
Ibrahimovic would provide a much-needed forward threat for Inter after a campaign that has seen them struggle in front of goal – with only Mauro Icardi currently in double figures.

Mancini tried to rectify that problem with the signings of Adem Ljajic, Stevan Jovetic and Eder but they have yet to repay the manager’s faith, the latter still waiting for his first Inter goal.

“I don’t think Eder was ever a centre-forward who could deliver 25 goals per season, as he has other qualities and works very hard,” added Mancini.

“At times he arrives in front of goal without the necessary sharpness because of fatigue, but he can guarantee 12-15 goals as a second striker.

“It’s not easy to play at Inter, you need time to settle. We’ve got nothing to criticise him for so far, as with three or four goals he would’ve been perfect. Our evaluation of him doesn’t change.

“He was unlucky to arrive in a difficult moment. He had chances to score, but it’s not a problem, as he’s always got goals in his career. You can’t debate his talent.”

'Everything is possible' – Inter's Brozovic responds to Arsenal links

The Croatia international has refused to rule out leaving San Siro this summer but says it is too early to discuss his future and he will wait until after the European Championship

Inter midfielder Marcelo Brozovic has refused to rule out the prospect of a transfer at the end of the season, amid speculation linking him with a move to Arsenal.

The Croatia international has been linked with a possible move to Arsenal after impressing under Roberto Mancini in Serie A.

Reports in Italy have also claimed that Roma are preparing a player-plus-cash offer to sign the 23-year-old, who has scored six times in 27 appearances in 2015-16.

Brozovic insists he is committed to Inter’s attempts to qualify for the Champions League but suggested that a transfer could be possible after Euro 2016.

“I have heard about these rumours. For now, I am an Inter player and I will behave as such,” he told Jutarnji when asked about the Arsenal speculation.

“Everything is possible. We’ll see. We’ll know more after the Euros. There’s nothing more to say at this time, it’s too soon.”

READ MORE  | Wenger wins Usmanov backing

Brozovic went on to admit that Inter’s failure to keep in the running for the Serie A title has been a huge source of frustration.

“To be honest, I’m not satisfied with the position in the table. We were supposed to be among the top three teams,” he said.

“There were games where we needlessly dropped points and now we’re around the fourth and fifth positions.

“There are still eight games to go and I believe we can still reach third.”

Brozovic set up Ivan Perisic to score before doubling the lead himself in Croatia’s 2-0 friendly win over Israel on Wednesday.

Zanetti dismisses Mancini exit rumours

The former Manchester City manager had been linked with a move to the Emirates Stadium but the Serie A club’s vice-president says the Italian will remain in charge at San Siro

Inter vice-president Javier Zanetti is adamant that Roberto Mancini will remain as head coach next season despite speculation linking him with Arsenal.Wenger has been Gunners manager since 1996, but the Frenchman has come under pressure in recent weeks as their Premier League title challenge has stalled, while they have also been knocked out of the Champions League and FA Cup.Reports in the Italian media subsequently suggested that former Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini has been identified as a potential candidate to take over at Emirates Stadium should Wenger move on.But Zanetti has now denied the rumours, telling Mediaset Premium: “The club has been clear and Roberto is keen to remain with us.”Now we must focus on the end of the season, which will be very tough, but I think we have what it takes to move forward.”READ MORE  | Bayern to play Real, Inter and Milan

Inter were leading Serie A at the mid-season break, but erratic form in the second half of the season has seen their title ambitions fade, and they now sit fifth.The Milan outfit are also five points adrift of Roma, who occupy the final Champions League space, but Zanetti remains optimistic of securing third place.”We believe we can finish third,” he added. “The draw at Roma gave us a strong response and great confidence.

“The lads have been doing well for the last month and even if we are five points off Roma, I say anything can happen.”

Mancini: Inter not out of the fight for third yet

Roma equalised with just six minutes remaining to stay five clear of the Nerazzurri when the two faced off on Saturday, but the former Manchester City boss says the race isn’t over

Roberto Mancini insisted Inter are still well in the race for a top-three finish despite Radja Nainggolan’s late strike denying them victory at Roma.

Inter were six minutes away from a first Serie A victory at Stadio Olimpico since 2008 after Ivan Perisic’s goal early in the second half on Saturday, before Nainggolan netted with a sliding effort after Edin Dzeko had mishit a shot into his path.

The Belgian midfielder’s strike meant Roma, whose eight-match winning streak in the league was ended, remain five points clear of Inter in the third and final Champions League qualification place, but Mancini is still hopeful of catching them.

“The team put in an excellent performance, which builds on our recent displays,” he said.

“There are still so many points up for grabs. If we finish on level points with Roma, we have got the advantage of a better head-to-head record.

“It’s still open, we have got eight more games and a long way to go. We need to win every game from now until the end. If we do that, I’m sure we will get third spot.
READ MORE  | REPORT: Roma deny Inter CL boost

“There are three teams in front of us [Juventus, Napoli and Roma] who began the season with their eyes on the Scudetto, we are still in the mix and we will keep on pushing for the third-place finish.

“We did really well until Roma threw on Edin Dzeko. After that we found it tough as they switched to long balls.

“Clearly if you concede an equaliser that late there is going to be regret and perhaps we should have scored the second goal.

“We are frustrated that we had to do without three strikers – if we had at least one of Mauro Icardi, Rodrigo Palacio or Stevan Jovetic, we would probably have won the game.

“Roma stepped on the accelerator in the final 10 minutes and they scored on the least well-worked move because Dzeko scuffed that ball and it turned into an assist.”

Fifth-placed Fiorentina are also in the mix to finish in the top three and they sit one point behind Inter with a game in hand against struggling Frosinone today.