Giampaolo Pazzini offers "no excuses" for FC Internazionale Milano's disappointing start to the season but insists that with the right attitude they can turn a corner. "If we roll our sleeves up we will improve," he told UEFA.com.
The Italy forward had a bittersweet start to his Inter career last term. Although he scored goals from day one, striking twice on his debut against US Città di Palermo and amassing 11 in 14 top-flight starts, collectively the Nerazzurri fell short of the high standards set over recent years. Inter failed to win the Scudetto for the first time in six seasons, exited the UEFA Champions League after a shock 7-3 quarter-final defeat by FC Schalke 04, and had to console themselves with the Coppa Italia.
This term began even less auspiciously. Inter lost four of their opening five matches under Gian Piero Gasperini – including a UEFA Champions League home defeat by Trabzonspor AŞ – to prompt the coach's dismissal on 21 September. Claudio Ranieri took the reins, guiding the side to a 3-1 win at Bologna FC on Saturday; Pazzini says it is not too late for the Beneamata to salvage their campaign.
"Nobody wanted to start like this," he told UEFA.com. "We wanted a better start against Trabzonspor, to forget the previous weekend's defeat, but we didn't manage it. We created a few chances that could have changed the game, but for a team like ours we didn't create enough. We just have to keep working and if we roll our sleeves up we will improve."
Pazzini will hope that progress commences on Tuesday when Inter visit Group B rivals PFC CSKA Moskva. "The Champions League is always very close, so despite the loss we are still in it. We have five matches to play and we can certainly qualify. Of course it will be difficult and we have to turn ourselves around. We have to go to Moscow with our usual hunger for success and the aggression that has always characterised us."
The former Atalanta BC and ACF Fiorentina striker arrived in Milan in January from UC Sampdoria, the side subsequently relegated from Serie A, yet is unfazed by the expectations of a team used to climbing the highest peaks. "It's positive pressure, something nice that lots of players want to feel. There are ambitious players who want to win and who want to show that. It's a nice feeling."
The 27-year-old, who has scored twice in Italy's last three UEFA EURO 2012 qualifiers, also relishes the sensation of appearing in Europe's premier club competition. "I haven't played in the Champions League much. I had one year with Fiorentina and the play-offs with Sampdoria, so it hasn't been much. But I scored three goals which was very satisfying."
The player known to team-mates as 'Pazzo' (which means crazy in Italian) is certainly mad about wearing the colours of the four-time European Cup winners. "I felt very proud when I first pulled on the Inter shirt. To come to a club like this is the pinnacle for any player. The first time I wore it was an unforgettable match – I came on as substitute and scored twice so it was an unbelievable feeling. To wear this shirt always fills me with great pride."
Pazzini will attempt to prove as much if he gets the chance to pull the shirt on and roll his sleeves up in Moscow on Tuesday.
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