Ranieri vows to keep faith with old guard
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Inter Milan coach Claudio Ranieri said he will keep faith with his battle-hardened veterans as he bids to drag the team out of their league slump.

The Nerazzurri beat Lille 2-1 at the San Siro on Wednesday night to give them nine points at the top of UEFA Champions League Group B after four games. That is one more point than they have managed in nine league matches this season, a run that has left them one point and one place above the relegation zone.

"I only wish I knew why," said Ranieri, when asked to explain his team's differing fortunes in Europe and at home. "The experience of these players is very important - they've won the Champions League and they're the reigning world champions. At the moment we're not doing well but we have all the desire to show we're here and we want to make things happen.

"For me the emblem of the game was (Diego) Milito, who missed two chances but didn't give up and finally scored. We showed grit and determination against a good Lille team. Experience makes me think that although we have an old guard here, the way they train, the way they fight, they're compact, they're determined; they give me confidence because in times of difficulty it's not easy to blood youngsters.

They [older players] give me confidence because in times of difficulty it's not easy to blood youngsters.
Inter Milan coach Claudio Ranieri

"Because of playing at the San Siro, (the youngsters) have ups and downs but (the old guard) are used to pressure and fighting, they can still give me a lot. When the team starts running we can make some changes but while we have to fight and struggle, we're good with these (veterans)."

Two of those veterans scored the goals that gave Inter a 2-0 lead before Tulio De Melo pulled a late goal back for Lille. Walter Samuel opened the scoring with a towering header from a corner and Milito made up for a shocking earlier miss from seven yards by scoring from a yard closer to end his personal dry spell.

"Obviously Samuel has been a very important player for Inter in the past and will also be in the future," added Ranieri. "He provides a central block with Lucio that was working and gave us solidity.

"I'm happy for him but also for everyone. But I must say that despite knowing him, I couldn't have expected such an energetic performance from (captain Javier) Zanetti at full-back - he was tremendous."

For Ranieri overall it was an important success. "It wasn't easy because we knew that Lille had not lost in their last 13 away games and it was their last chance to succeed in the Champions League, so this win means a lot, especially given the moment we're going through.

"In the Champions League we're having those little bits of luck that we're not having in the league so we must keep going. The team's improving physically in every game."

Inter lead the group by four points now with two games left. Lille meanwhile are rock bottom, three points behind both CSKA Moscow and Trabzonspor and must yet play both.