Juventus host Inter in the first leg of a huge Coppa Italia semi-final tie on Wednesday, with Felipe Melo admitting Roberto Mancini’s men have been brought back down to earth in recent weeks.
The two rivals have experienced vastly different fortunes in Serie A during the middle period of the season.
Having made a miserable start, Juve have stormed to 11 consecutive league victories, while Inter have only won three of their last eight.
That means Mancini’s early pacesetters have slipped down to fourth in the table, while Massimiliano Allegri’s champions have surged up to second place, within two points of leaders Napoli.
Inter’s most recent blow was a 1-1 draw against struggling 10-man Carpi on Sunday, with a late intervention from Kevin Lasagna turning stomachs at San Siro.
Melo was extremely disappointed with the display, but felt one positive would be the focused minds ahead of the first leg against Juve in Turin.
“When they went down to 10 men there was no way we should have been conceding a goal like that – we have thrown two points away,” said the midfielder.
“We must not forget this game because it will do us good in the future. If we had won the game we might have gone into the Juventus match overconfident and conceded four goals – that is much worse that being humble and working hard to produce a good performance.
“If we show humility in our work then I am sure we can play the way we need to. This is a winning club and I came here to win. We just need to work even harder.
“Now we have an opportunity to do well away from home in the Derby d’Italia so we need to put the hard yards in. These moments happen and we need to show our intelligence.”
Seven-time competition winners Inter reached the last four with wins over Cagliari and Napoli, while Juve – who have won it a record 10 times including last season – got the better of Torino and Lazio.
The winners of the tie, which concludes with the second leg on March 1, will face either AC Milan or third-tier outfit Alessandria in the final.
Speaking after Sunday’s 1-0 win over Roma, head coach Allegri set his sights on a strong second half of the season.
He said: “We want to end the season this way on May 8 for the league, May 21 for the Coppa Italia and May 28 in the Champions League.
“We have a packed schedule ahead but we must stay level-headed. As I have always said, keeping your cool and focus is everything in football and the boys have maintained theirs brilliantly in the last few months.
“It is a long season when you compete in as many competitions as we do and the most important thing is to ensure that we end it with one or two pieces of silverware to show for it.”
Juve only have Mario Lemina and Roberto Pereyra out of action, while Inter are at full strength.
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