Fiorentina v Inter: Icardi remains confident of Champions League qualification
Mauro Icardi remains fully confident Inter have what it takes to claim Serie A's final Champions League spot as they seek to end their poor recent form at third-placed Fiorentina on Sunday.
Having been contenders for the Scudetto prior to the turn of the year, Inter have won only one of their last six Serie A fixtures and will slip further in the race for third with defeat in Florence this weekend.
Fiorentina are unbeaten in four league matches and have beaten Inter in their last three Serie A meetings, but Icardi remains confident his side are more than capable of resurrecting their season and finishing in the top three.
The Argentina international has scored in both games since his penalty miss in the derby defeat to AC Milan and says his belief in the cause is stronger than ever.
"In the last month we suffered a decline and we dropped a few points in the standings," he told Corriere dello Sport. "The overall performance went down a bit, but we can get back up if we work until the end.
"I have believed in the Champions League ever since July, when we discussed it in Riscone. I knew we could make it then and I believe in it even more strongly now.
"Until early January we were top. We proved that we can beat anyone and that we can be at the top. I have a great desire to play in the Champions League, it's my objective and Inter's too.
"We had the good fortune of doing well until mid-December, but you can't expect everything to go perfectly all the time. Every team has its ups and downs over a year."
Fiorentina ran out 4-1 winners at San Siro in the reverse fixture this season and Paulo Sousa's men face an important few weeks with a Europa League last-32 tie against Tottenham to come this month before the visit of title-hopefuls Napoli.
While captain Gonzalo Rodriguez has faith in his side, he dismissed the idea of Inter being in crisis.
"I don't think they are in crisis, they're fighting for big objectives and they'll want to win on Sunday just like us," said the Viola skipper.
"They have players up front who are dangerous and world class. But I have faith in my Fiorentina that we'll do well.
"It's hard to repeat that [4-1] game but we'll go onto the pitch with the same desire to win. We've learned so much, we're a strong team and we'll give everything."
While Fiorentina have Matias Fernandez suspended, Inter will be without banned defender Felipe Melo.
Key Opta stats:
- La Viola have scored in each of their last seven games against Inter in Serie A (on average 2.1 per game).
- Roberto Mancini's Inter side have conceded six goals over their last three games – they had conceded seven in their previous 12 league fixtures.
- Nine of the 20 goals conceded by Inter in this campaign have been from set-piece situations – only AC Milan have done worse so far.
- Mauro Icardi has reached double figure in terms of goals scored for the third successive season in Serie A.
- Six of Icardi's 10 goals this campaign have been scored away from home – only Napoli's Gonzalo Higuain (10) has netted more away from home so far in this competition.