Eto'o clears air ahead of Supercoppa
Inter Milan striker Samuel Eto'o has sought to end talk of a rift between himself and new coach Gian Piero Gasperini ahead of tomorrow's Italian Supercoppa showdown with arch rivals AC Milan in Beijing.
The 30-year-old Cameroon captain has been linked with a move away from the San Siro following reports of a bust-up with Gasperini, who succeeded Leonardo as Nerazzurri boss in June, over the team's formation. However, Eto'o insisted after today's training session that such reports were wide of the mark. He told www.inter.it: "I have never had any sort of argument with Gasperini.
"The only things we spoke about in Pinzolo [the summer training camp] were technical matters and tactics, which is a perfectly normal thing for a coach and a player to do - especially when they haven't been working together for very long and are still getting to know each other. They have to understand the technical and tactical requirements that are in the best interests of the team."
Tomorrow will be Eto'o's third Italian Supercoppa with Inter - his second in China - and he has already netted three times to be the joint top scorer in the cup's history along with Alessandro Del Piero and Andriy Shevchenko.
Gasperini insisted earlier this week that he expected Dutch midfielder Wesley Sneijder to feature despite uncertainty over his future amid possible interest from Manchester United. "He's playing for us, training with us and he'll play on Saturday," the Inter boss said on Tuesday. "There is no Sneijder problem."
Serbia midfielder Dejan Stankovic is a major doubt for the Coppa Italia winners after picking up a knee injury in training yesterday. Colombia defender Ivan Cordoba also trained alone today as he continues his recovery from knee surgery last spring.
Whatever formation Gasperini goes for tomorrow - he favours 3-4-3 - veteran Milan midfielder Clarence Seedorf has urged his team-mates to focus only on themselves. "We will see on the field if Inter will play three at the back," he said. "Even if they do, they can change during the game and go to four. We must think of our abilities and work on those. "
Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri, who took over the Rossoneri reins last summer and guided the club to their first Scudetto since 2004, expects a difficult encounter at the Bird's Nest. "It will be a tough match," he said. "The conditions are not optimal. We are playing 10,000 miles away from home in a different time zone. With improved physical conditions it would have been a different game."
As for Inter, who finished six points behind his team in Serie A last term, he added: "They will be the favourites, along with AC Milan, for the Scudetto. They have had a month working with the new coach and played in friendlies and done good things. They are on track."