"WOULD KILL FOR CONTE" - Barella: "Coach has special way of talking to players, we run for him because of what he puts in our heads. Scudetto? I would empty my wine cellar (350 bottles)"
“Besides the result and the decisions of the referee, that game showed who we are. For 65-70 minutes, we put Barcelona under pressure and they are a world class team. Of course, a victory here would have amplified everything even more. But we showed personality and that game will be an important for our future.”
In an interview with the Gazzetta dello Sport, Nicolo Barella started out with the match on Wednesday against Barcelona and he still has a lot of regrets that the team didn’t manage to go home with all three points. But overall, it was a great display shown by the boys who will build upon it going forward.
You are not dropping the Champions League for the league right?
“No, not at all. It’s a difficult group but we are Inter. I don’t know where but we’re going to get the points we need to go through.”
What did Conte say after the game?
“There was no need to talk much. We looked at each other and we said to ourselves that ‘we have another important match coming up, let’s think about that one.’”
Yeh, Juve are next.
“Very strong team, but so are we.”
So this match is on par then.
“Yes. Juve have more than just experience, the players know each other for longer period as a group. But the coach has asked us to clean up a few things and we are doing that in practice, which is why I say that we are on par compared to them. Juve won the league with a 21-point gap and we want to fill that gap, we will see in the end…”
Iuliano and Ronaldo, that happened when you were one year old. Did people tell you about that episode?
“Let’s just say that it was a strange case. I won’t add anymore to that.”
Is it true that Sarri was close to be your coach?
“Yes, Chelsea wanted me in January and negotiation was real and concrete. But I told Cagliari that because the team is going through difficult period, I’m going to stay. That’s how I made the decision.”
How many calls did Conte make to you?
“Well, he knew how to be very convincing right away and so it did not take more than one phone call.”
Ronaldo, how do you defend him?
“You have to ask Godin that who has sometimes managed to limit him in the past. Thank goodness that I don’t have to mark him. But if it happens, I’m not backing down.”
Where do Inter need to improve the most?
“We create a lot but materialize those chances little. It’s our next step.”
And what about you?
“I have more than 100 appearances in Serie A but only seven goals: I have to raise it up.”
How is Conte really different?
“He has a different attitude, a way of talking to you that gives you something new. I would kill for him and same goes to all of his players. And this makes the difference. Have you seen how Conte’s teams run? It’s not just because they are well prepared. It is the fruit of what he puts in your head.”
What was it like sharing the same tunnel with Messi?
“I saw very little of Ronaldo, El Fenomeno and so for me, Messi is the greatest of all time.”
Common thought: Barella receives too many cards.
“It is a label that I now carry onto the pitch: others do exact same tackles and they don’t receive anything.”
Stankovic is your model. What similarity do you have with the Serbian?
“We are similar in our attitude, as I never back down. But he had a shot and an ability to score goals that I envy.”
If I say the name of Matteoli…
“One of the people I owe the most to. When I had a good match, he whispered to me: ‘Look kid, you didn’t do anything.’”
Who is the best midfielder in the world?
“Sensi, no joke. If at 100%, Modric.”
It is said that the strength of Inter is in the Italians, do you agree?
“I think that Inter decided to go this way because the club wanted to create a strong group as soon as possible. But then again, Inter must play the best players, regardless of nationality.”
You and Sensi form the backbone of the national team, do you share the same feeling?
“Certainly. Mancini is giving us a lot of confidence. It wasn’t like this a year and a half ago. We were and are motivated and this is fundamental. The two of us, Jorginho, Verratti but also Pellegrini, Zaniolo and now Castrovilli, yes, Italy has a great midfield.”
Is it more difficult to win the Scudetto or in Europe?
“Difficult yes, but not impossible. What about a double?”
Mancini and Conte, differences and similarities?
“They are different in training methods and in how to they put their teams on the pitch. Both are similar in the confidence that they transmit to the players and in the attention given to the opponents during the preparation of the match. With both, when you go on the pitch, you already know what to do.”
What was the last bottle of wine that you bought?
(Laughs) “I’m a collector, it’s true. Everything happened by chance by the way. Now, I have a cellar with 350 bottles.”
Which one would you open if you win the Scudetto?
“I would empty the cellar.”
One hour of free time: walk, movie or PlayStation?
“I don’t even have a PlayStation, I have two daughters. I don’t even have an excuse to play. I love walking with my family.”
What annoys you about football?
“The false news. But fantasy football also annoys me: not the game itself but there are people who insult me because they tell me that my bad performances cost them in fantasy football. As if I were happy with my performances… I would tell them off because I can’t stand labels.”
You’re a little Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde aren’t you?
“True: off the pitch, I’m humble and helpful, sometimes too much. On it, I would fight even with my daughters.”
Football and racism: why can’t we do without it?
“It is sad, I have teammates who suffer because of it. I believe that campaigns like that of Inter or the banner of Everton (“No to Racism” written with Kean’s face attached) are very important. Then we must also see the contexts: if a Curva money chants at a player, that doesn’t mean all people are racist. And the time has come to do more about these episodes.”
Why do you play football?
“For passion. But yeah, I already know that people will stay that ‘but you earn money with the ball.’ Do you know what I would respond? If I didn’t have passion, I wouldn’t play like I do.”
First name Gigi, last name Riva (Gigi Riva is a legendary Cagliari midfielder).
“I was able to meet him when I was 18 years old. It was strange to have a chat with him. We were at an even at his football school, full of children and everyone looked at me and said ‘there’s Barella, there’s Barella.’ And I did the same with Gigi Riva, I wanted to explain to the children he was the one to look at, not me. Riva told me, ‘Congratulations kid, you are doing very well.’ And I’m not going to forget it.”
Do you have a dream?
“I would like to be remembered as a player who put Sardinia on the map and in my case it was Cagliari. As it has happened to Aru, Datome, Zola, Matteoli.”
Can you reveal the history of your personal note?
“I have one, years ago I wrote all my personal goals on there. The first was to play in Serie A with Cagliari, that happened. Another goal was to wear the Inter shirt: done.”
How many goals are missing?
“Eh, many. Winning something is the next one for sure. So I can empty the cellar and make my wife happy.”