Inter Milan defender Milan Skriniar has said keeping Gonzalo Higuain quiet won’t guarantee victory in Sunday’s Milan derby.
Milan forward Higuain has been earmarked as the biggest danger to Inter defenders — and the Argentine laid down the gauntlet to Skriniar and his fellow central defender Stefan De Vrij by telling La Gazzetta dello Sport that it motivates him even more to try to score past such strong players.
Conversely, Skriniar would like nothing more than to keep Higuain quiet, although he insists that would only be part of the job done.
“It’s important that he doesn’t score,” the 23-year-old told ESPN FC. “But it’s not just him — also their other attackers.
“He’s a great striker — maybe one of the best in Italy — but if he doesn’t score and somebody else does, it’s still the same.
“So we’ve got to try not to concede, to score a goal or two and win this game.”
Inter have surged to third in Serie A off the back of a four-game winning streak, and they can strengthen their challenge of Juventus’ supremacy by beating their neighbours at a sold-out San Siro this weekend.
Skriniar’s first taste of a Derby della Madonnina was filled with drama — Inter scoring in the last minute to beat their local rivals 3-2 a year ago — and he cannot wait for the next one as he looks to extend his personal unbeaten record for Inter against the Rossoneri in Serie A to three games.
“It’s important that I’ve not yet lost to Milan in a derby [in Serie A] — the first derby was amazing,” Skriniar said. “We won 3-2, with a goal in the 95th minute from Mauro [Icardi] to complete his hat trick. It was great for us and great for our fans.
“The second time was 0-0 but this is the third in Serie A and I hope to win it. We need to prove that we are better, and we’ve got to give everything. We are convinced that we are stronger than we were last year, but we’ll see on the field — that’s where we will see who is best.”
Both Milanese clubs made slow starts to a season in which both harbour high ambitions.
After a defeat to Napoli, Milan have gone six games unbeaten, although three of those were draws. Inter, on the other hand, are on a four-game winning run in the league which has catapulted them to third — four points ahead of their neighbours, who still have a game in hand.
Skriniar is looking to extend the gap on Sunday and has outlined the Nerazzurri’s growing ambitions.
“I’m not interested in them, we are interested in Inter and where we finish,” he said. “We want to finish there [in the top four] and we don’t care where they finish.
“As soon as we got back from the international break, we started concentrating on the derby. We’re all back together now; all united. We’re focused and working hard on winning the derby. It’s important to keep on winning. What happened with our national teams stays with the national teams, because the national team is one thing and Inter is another.
“We need to carry on this winning streak that we have of six games. We want to finish as high as we can — definitely in the top four — but I think we can get even higher. We’ve got to take it bit by bit, game by game, point by point, so we’ll see.”