Inter Milan’s Luciano Spalletti confident of Champions League return

Gab Marcotti believes Inter Milan’s strong run of form will see them past an injury-plagued Lazio and into the Serie A top four.

Inter Milan coach Luciano Spalletti is confident his side will qualify for the Champions League next season.

A 4-0 win at Udinese on Sunday saw them narrow the gap on fourth-place Lazio to two points ahead of the penultimate round of matches, when they will host Sassuolo — who are already safe — as Lazio travel to Crotone, who are still fighting for survival.

On the final day of the season, Inter will travel to Rome to face Lazio in a game that will likely decide who will enter the Champions League and who will instead have to settle for the Europa League.

“We’re still behind them on points, but I have to remain convinced we will win all our remaining games,” Spalletti told Sky Sport Italia. “What will be fundamental is that the team show the same characteristics as in every game. For example, I’d have a thing or two to say about the second half [against Udinese], but I don’t want to be seen as a moaner because in the end, we were exceptional to have control of the game.

“We just need to show this even when we’re not necessarily obliged to. I’ve seen a reaction after [losing 3-2 to] Juventus and that is what I wanted. We’ve digested what happened last week correctly and we came here to dominate against a physical side who ran a lot.”

Inter Milan coach Luciano Spalletti
Luciano Spalletti believes Inter Milan can return to the Champions League for the first time since 2011-12.

Spalletti’s own future may depend on which European competition they qualify for, but he remains relaxed about the situation.

“I don’t see what the problem is, nor why there is all this fuss,” he said. “I already have a contract. I don’t see why [fourth place] is obligatory. We’re fighting for it, but you can also lose. It depends how you lose and the work that you do.”

Spalletti signed a two-year contract with Inter when he arrived from Roma last summer and there is talk of a two-year renewal being on the table should they finish inside the top four.

Inter were leading Serie A earlier this season until a 16-game unbeaten streak came to an end. A seven-game winless streak ensued, leading to them dropping out of the top four, although they have recovered with three wins in their last four games to get back into contention for a return to the Champions League.

Inter last appeared in Europe’s elite club competition in 2011-12 and have reached the round of 16 in the Europa League twice since, although their last foray into Europe was three years ago.

Ben Gladwell reports on Serie A, the Italian national team and the Bundesliga for ESPN FC, UEFA and the Press Association. @UEFAcomBenG.