Ranieri insists derby is a thing of the past
Claudio Ranieri says last week's crucial and morale-boosting Milan derby victory has been set aside and his focus is entirely on Lazio.
Inter Milan beat champions AC Milan 1-0 last weekend to close the gap to Juventus at the top of the table to six points.
And if they beat Lazio on Sunday night they will also move up to fourth, their highest position all season.
But Ranieri says he's not quite yet ready to start looking at the numbers.
"I'll have a first look only after the Lazio game," he said.
"We've taken a giant step but now we have a huge difficulty in front of us.
"The derby is history, all that counts now is Lazio. They're dynamic, strong and I believe it will be a more complicated match than against Milan.
"Right now I need everyone and everyone needs to give me 100 percent."
Eight wins in nine league games have thrust Inter back into the scudetto picture after a disastrous start to their campaign that included just two successes in their first nine matches.
Ranieri's team came in for some criticism following the derby as they managed only a third of ball possession but the former Juventus and Cheslea boss revelled in his side's typically Italian performance.
They created very little in the game but defended well, snatched a goal on the break and then held firm: classic catenaccio.
"I thought it was a great derby, I'm Italian and I'm not going to renounce our philosophy," he said.
"I see many games and I don't think there are many teams who play better than us.
"I would appreciate some respect for a coach (himself) who says so when the opposition plays better and who admits when he's deserved to lose.
"Otherwise I will also start making excuses such as the referee, injuries, the pitch or the sun.
"I'll also start blaming many strange factors.
"I'm not going against the grain, Italian football has won a lot and I don't see why we should renounce it.
"Nowadays people say the future of football is to change systems during the game.
"Well I used to do that already when I was at Cagliari (from 1988-91) so obviously I am the future.
"And in Italy I've always liked (Zdenek) Zeman's teams."
Zeman's philosophy is the polar opposite of catenaccio but in fairness Inter were only forced to defend against Milan because their opponents controlled the ball well.
As for who will play against Lazio, Ranieri gave encouragement to Dutch playmaker Wesley Sneijder, who was given a start against Genoa in the Italian Cup in midweek, but suggested he would still have to settle for a place on the bench as he strives for full fitness.
Ranieri is particularly reluctant to change a winning team given Inter have had six wins on the trot.
"Sneijder had a good hour, he looked determined and happy but at the moment he's lacking minutes in his legs," said Ranieri.
"It's important for him to play but after his persistent injuries we want to get him back to fitness, but calmly."
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