Stramaccioni expects fiery return in Belgrade
Andrea Stramaccioni feels his Inter Milan side are one win away from qualifying for the next round of the UEFA Europa League, after seeing off Partizan Belgrade last night.
It may have taken a Rodrigo Palacio goal right at the death to break the Serbians' stubborn resolve, but Stramaccioni had few concerns over i Nerazzurri's performance, one he believes has certainly proved that his players can compete on two fronts.
With the Milan outfit now level on seven points with Rubin Kazan at the top of Group H, Stramaccioni is eager to all but seal progression with victory in Belgrade in two weeks' time. He told the Gazzetta dello Sport: "We struggled against a team that showed its quality at the San Siro, they are the best team from Serbia and have some great players.
"But at the end of the day, we deserved to win. (Partizan striker Lazar) Markovic proved he has a bright future but (Samir) Handanovic stopped a great move from him that should have been a goal, proving that he is among the best keepers in Europe.
"It was a great result that gives us a huge advantage in this group. But I think the next game will be decisive. There will be a fiery atmosphere in Belgrade, if Partizan get a result then qualification will be wide open, but if we win we shut the door on them.
"We're doing well in this competition, and I think we have what it takes to be a force both in Italy and in Europe."
Inter turn their attentions back to Serie A this weekend, as Stramaccioni targets a fifth straight league win at the expense of Bologna, with a top-three spot more than achievable. I Nerazzurri's coach is likely to revert back to his preferred starting XI after fielding the likes of Jonathan, Phillippe Coutinho and Marko Livaja last night.
"We can't have 25 players playing at their best across the entire season," he added. "I have confidence in all of my players, though, and they proved me right this evening."