MILAN (Reuters) – AC Milan coach Gennaro Gattuso has urged his players not to fear rivals Inter Milan in Sunday’s Serie A derby and insists he has the more technically gifted players.
The first Milan Derby of the season takes place at the San Siro, with four points separating Inter in third from 10th-placed Milan, who have a game in hand.
Both teams went into the international break in good form, with Inter on a six-match winning streak in all competitions and Milan unbeaten in eight.
Gattuso underlined the importance of keeping cool heads in front of a sell-out crowd.
“These games prepare themselves,” he told a press conference. “We need to be strong to not let the emotion get to us too much and not lose too much energy on the pitch.
“Inter aren’t just a strong team on paper, which they’ve shown in the Champions League. They have great quality and physicality and we must be very focused, we can’t afford to commit mistakes or be afraid.
“If we go through each player they have different characteristics. We’re lacking a little physically, that’s the difference. But on a technical level we don’t feel inferior – on the contrary we have something more.
“Over the last month, my team has improved a great deal in terms of mentality. Perhaps some players hate me, but my vision of football demands a very professional attitude in training and I don’t keep my opinions to myself. Some people like that, while about 20 per cent probably hate me.”
Inter coach Luciano Spalletti insisted the derby was no ordinary match.
“The derby is worth much more than three points for what it does to the minds of the players and the enthusiasm of the fans,” he said.
The ‘Nerazzurri’ recovered from a slow start to the season to launch their winning run. They travel to Barcelona for a Champions League tie next Wednesday.
“This week we haven’t thought about Barcelona or the league table, just the derby… You could say this game is the thermometer to measure the Inter fever in the city.
“Since I arrived here, I’ve realised that Inter fans are more likely to forget the birthdays of their husbands or wives than they are the date of the derby. If you want to go down in the history of Inter… then you’ll do it in this game.”
(Reporting by Alasdair Mackenzie; Editing by Tony Lawrence)