Serie A return. Ranieri: “I want the players to give their all”

Serie A is back. “We’re starting again at last,” is how Claudio Ranieri began his pre-match press conference, two days ahead of the league restart against Inter at San Siro. “The players have worked so hard over the last few months. I’m pleased because we’ve managed to get the team back to where we were before the break. It’ll be interesting to see how we respond on the pitch. I want the players to give their all.”

Almost four months have passed since 23 February, the original date for this fixture, which has felt like an eternity. “When you’re coaching and playing, the year flies by, but time has slowed down for everyone now, even more so for 20-year-old guys who’ve been stuck at home for two months. I used to know everything about everyone, but now there are question marks over everything. I don’t know how each player will respond over the 90 minutes, which is why I’m pleased about the five-sub rule, because it means I can maintain a high level.”

“The league table is distorted at the moment,” explained the Doria coach. “That goes for us and for everyone else. This situation is vastly different from the summer break. Of course, preparations are similar, but what the players have gone through recently is unlike holidays and training camps. I know how hard we’ve worked, but I’m like Saint Thomas: I want to touch with my hands.”

The 68-year-old also analysed Samp’s upcoming opponents, with particular reference to their Coppa Italia semi-final loss: “They looked good in the cup against Napoli. They moved the ball quickly and I thought they were in decent shape. [David] Ospina made three or four key saves that evening. They might not be at full pelt for the 90 minutes just yet, but they’ll try to get off to a good start.”

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