The Nerazzurri face arguably their most important match of the season this weekend when they take on the Serie A league-leaders at San Siro, and Spalletti has urged his players to stand up and be counted as the race for Champions League qualification enters its decisive stage.
“These are games in which you need to take responsibilities,” Inter’s head coach told reporters during his pre-match press conference on Friday. “You need to be willing to play the passes that will make the difference.
“If you approach these kinds of matches hoping to hide from the spotlight then you will be found out. We’ll need to play well [with the ball] and run hard [without it]; doing only one of those two things will not be enough.”
Saturday’s clash at San Siro promises to be one of the most significant meetings between Inter and Juventus in recent memory, but Spalletti is convinced that his team are ready to face a match of such a magnitude.
“I’m confident heading into this game because the team has improved a lot over the course of this season” he said. “It will be an very difficult match but we’ve learned how to deal with our weaknesses now.
“We have an extremely important objective to fight for during these last few weeks of the season in Champions League qualification, and we are ready to fight for it. We’ve got ourselves to this point and now we enter the best period of the season.
“The great players approach these periods with pleasure and excitement, they’re not frightened by the prospect of what might happen if things go badly. They’re focused solely on what they can achieve in a match like this.
“I’m delighted to have arrived at the eve of a game of this level. I expect us to put in a good performance.
“A draw doesn’t help much tomorrow - both teams will be playing to win this game.”
The last time Inter hosted Juventus at San Siro in September 2016 they secured a spectacular come-from-behind victory over the Bianconeri, following a courageous performance that saw them adopt an aggressive match strategy.
Asked if Inter could repeat such a display again, Spalletti hinted his side would be going out to try and attack.
“The longer you remain in the opposition’s half during a match the easier it is for you. You’re closer to their goal and it makes it easier for you to take shots and pick up set pieces in dangerous positions.
“At the same time it’s also important to read the game well and know when you need to take a step back. Juventus are strong in transitions and they can be comfortable even when teams attack them high up the pitch.
“They are capable of adapting to every scenario and opponent they come up against.”
Max Allegri’s side arrive at this weekend’s big match off the back of their damaging defeat at home to Napoli last Sunday, which saw their gap at the top of Serie A cut to just one point, but Spalletti doesn’t believe that their setback changes anything ahead of the clash at San Siro.
“Even if they hadn’t lost on Sunday they would still want to wrap up the Scudetto as quickly as possible, so I don’t think their defeat makes any difference.
“Will Juventus will be doubly fired up for this match after losing to Napoli? It’s been seven years since we achieved anything special here - if they’re angry at the moment imagine how we’re feeling...”
Spalletti also dismissed claims that Inter should take extra pleasure from winning on Saturday because of the consequences it would have on Juventus’s Scudetto challenge, while adding that he is not worried about the prospect of having to play Champions League rivals Lazio on the final day of the season.
“All I’m interested in is picking up three points for Inter, not denying Juventus the chance to pick up three points themselves.
“It’s not a burden for us to know we will play Lazio on the final weekend.
“We know that we have the chance over the next few weeks to compete for something magnificent, the opportunity to take Inter and all the love that surrounds this club and its players back into the Champions League. We have to be prepared for that.”
Standing in Inter’s way on Saturday night will be Juventus outfit that know they cannot afford any more slip-ups if they are to secure a seventh consecutive league title.
The Bianconeri have endured a difficult week following Sunday’s last-minute loss in the Scudetto showdown with Napoli, but head coach Max Allegri is confident that his players will respond to all the criticism they have received in the correct manner this weekend.
“I’m convinced that we’ll produce a good performance tomorrow,” he told reporters during his press conference at Vinovo. “After that if the ball hits the post and goes in or bounces out I don’t know...
“It’s never useful to talk too much, it can happen to lose games in football. We’ve taken two blows in recent weeks [against Crotone and Napoli] but perhaps tomorrow we’ll deal one out ourselves.
Despite his optimism ahead of the game though Allegri acknowledged that Juventus will not have everything their own way at San Siro.
“Spalletti has done a great job at Inter, they’ve only conceded 23 goals this season. We have to give everything because it’s the Derby d’Italia. It’ll be a different match to the first game this season when we played very well.
“Tomorrow they’ll have to try and win to reach the Champions League while we’ll have to try and win to secure the Scudetto. We’ll need mentality, technique, determination and abnegation, all of which are all crucial in the big games.
“We’ll have to be ready to fight for every ball. We need to play a tough match, otherwise you can’t escape from San Siro alive.”