Simone Inzaghi is unsure what type of reception he will receive when Inter travel to Lazio this weekend but is excited to return to his former home.
The 45-year-old replaced Scudetto-winning boss Antonio Conte at San Siro in June, a week after bringing an end to his five-year spell in charge of Lazio.
In the three points for a win era, nobody has managed more Serie A games for Lazio than Inzaghi (197), while only Sven-Goran Eriksson has a better points-per-game return (1.9 compared to 1.82) among those to have managed at least 50 matches.
Inzaghi had previously spent 11 years with the Biancocelesti in his playing days and six years working as coach of the youth team.
After winning the Coppa Italia in 2019 and guiding Lazio back into the Champions League last term, when they reached the last 16, Inzaghi’s unexpected departure to take over at Inter did not go down well with some fans of the Rome club.
According to reports from Italy, the relationship between Inzaghi and Lazio president Claudio Lotito has still not been repaired, but the Inter boss is looking forward to walking out at the Stadio Olimpico.
“It’s not a match like the others. For me it’s a return to my home of 22 years,” Inzaghi said at Friday’s pre-match news conference.
“It will be a great thrill to see the lads who have always given everything for me and the people behind the scenes who were always special.
“In addition, I’ll get to see the Lazio fans, who have been very important for me. We have celebrated and suffered together in these years, reaching great targets that haven’t been achieved for a long time.
“I know there will be boos and applause, but it’s part of the job. I will accept them. They know that I have always given everything.”
Asked about his relationship with Lotito, five months on from exiting Lazio, Inzaghi replied: “A lot has been said and heard, but I think he and [sporting director Igli] Tare have been very important for my coaching career.
“Thanks to them I coached Lazio. I will never stop thanking them, knowing that we integrated well and achieved great results.”
Inzaghi was succeeded at Stadio Olimpico by Maurizio Sarri, who has won three, drawn two and lost two of his first seven Serie A games in charge.
Lazio are unbeaten in their last 16 home matches in the Italian top flight, winning 14 of those in what is their longest such run since 2002.
And Inzaghi has been impressed by Sarri’s work since taking on the job in the Italian capital.
“I think Lazio have played some excellent games,” Inzaghi said. “They are a very well-built team. A new coach has arrived and he’s very good at organising the teams.
“They are playing excellent games, but they lost the last one and therefore they will be angry and will want to play well.”
Inzaghi confirmed that Chile pair Alexis Sanchez and Arturo Vidal will not be involved due to returning late from international duty, while Argentina’s Lautaro Martinez will be monitored ahead of Saturday’s game.
After two weeks off, Lazio face a gruelling run of matches that will also see them face Marseille in the Europa League before league games with Hellas Verona, Fiorentina and Atalanta in the next fortnight.
Sarri is not happy with the congested fixture list and suggested money now takes priority over player welfare.
“We trained for two weeks in reduced ranks, it’s difficult to evaluate,” Sarri said at a news conference.
“This is the current state of football; maybe it doesn’t belong to me anymore. Every month we play seven games in 19 days and then we are 11 days without players.
“In practice they train more in the national team than with the club. We are not looking at football as a sport but a show where you try to squeeze out money everywhere. Maybe I’m too old for all this.”
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