Massimiliano Allegri has warned his men of the potential pitfalls presented by the first game back after the winter break but is convinced they will be raring to burst out of the blocks come the first whistle tomorrow night against Inter.
The Tuscan tactician claims there will be no lingering after effects from the Super Cup defeat to Napoli and is backing his men to raise their game for the visit of a notoriously tricky customer.
Speaking to the media in his first press conference of 2015, the Tuscan tactician began: “The first game of the year is always a strange one. The team that stays the most focused and alert will emerge victorious. It won’t come down to physical condition or technique, it will be mindset and mindset alone.
“The lads have returned from their holidays fired up and raring to go. A few days of holiday were required after five intense months. We won’t be suffering a hangover after Doha. I always like to win and unfortunately it didn’t happen in Qatar, but we played well and the game was only settled after 15 penalties were converted during the shootout, in which we had three match points.”
“It’s a shame we lost, but our season so far has been almost flawless in terms of targets. You can’t always win – Real showed that by falling to Milan in a friendly following 22 consecutive triumphs and yesterday in La Liga against Valencia.
“Now we need to think positive, get back to winning ways and put in decent displays, looking to improve on the recent performances that have been less dazzling in terms of our play.”
Approaching the game in 11th place, the Nerazzurri have endured a disappointing season so far but the return to the club of Roberto Mancini, who previously enjoyed a successful four-year stint in the dugout, could herald the start of a new dawn at the San Siro.
And Allegri is certain the experienced coach has the required weapons in his armoury to breathe new life into a side struggling for consistency.
“Inter are an excellent team and possess individuals capable of winning the game. Kovacic, in spite of his tender years, has a great future ahead of him and is one of the few players in the world capable of beating his man with one touch.
“We’ll also have to look out for the likes of Icardi, Palacio and Guarin – all quality players. Perhaps they approach tomorrow’s fixture following a less than fruitful period in terms of results, but they’re regaining confidence.”
The opening of the January transfer window drew inevitable questions on potential Bianconeri transfer targets, with Allegri admitting a playmaker and defender are two particular areas earmarked for strengthening over the coming month.
“Bolstering this side isn’t easy but we’re very clear on where we want to go and it’s no secret that we’re looking for a playmaker and defender. What matters for the time being is getting the injured players back, and Caceres and Marrone have rejoined the group.
“Sneijder has great technical quality and would complete a strong area of the team, creating competition in the process. He, like certain others, would be ineligible for the Champions League, but you need to be realistic and see who’s out there. The competition however is a main target of ours and when we take on Borussia we’ll do so with the aim of progressing.”