Football: Leonardo denies Inter have defensive problem

ROME, Feb 12, 2011 (AFP) - Inter Milan coach Leonardo is adamant his side doesn't have problems keeping the ball out of their net as they prepare to travel to traditional rivals Juventus on Sunday.

Inter have won nine out of 10 matches in all competitions under Leonardo and have been knocking in the goals for fun.

But while they have bagged 27 goals in that time, they have also leaked 15 and perhaps most alarmingly two of those came in last week's 5-3 win when Roma were down to 10 men.

Leonardo, however, does not see a problem.

"I've had a look at all the goals we've conceded again and after seeing them I'm even less worried," he insisted.

"In January we set off with a great desire to win, we wanted to claw back some points and we couldn't afford to think about anything other than winning.

"I don't know how many goals we've scored and conceded but I'm happy with the balance: we've scored more than we've conceded."

Inter sit third in the table, five points off leaders AC Milan and with a game in hand.

They have pulled back eight points on their arch rival neighbours since mid-December.

Milan have only won two out of their last six league games but Leonardo says there is nothing unusual about that.

"Every team goes through transitional periods throughout the season, over a 10-month campaign it's impossible to always be at 100 percent," he said.

"Milan's dip in form hasn't been decisive so far, just as Inter's at the beginning of the season wasn't either, because they're still top."

Turning his attentions to Sunday's game, Leonardo is expecting a fierce battle in the middle of the park.

"You could say the game will be played in midfield but there will be two teams on the pitch who love to play football so don't underestimate the impact of the forwards," he said.

Juve have struggled all season but particularly recently as they sit down in eighth place having lost five out of nine games in all competitions since the turn of the year.

However, coach Luigi Delneri believes that was due to injuries and that when at full strength, they are a match for anyone.

"The facts show that when we're at full strength we can compete against any team," he said.

"Now we're in good shape, we've got many players back and the infirmary is practically empty.

"We're almost at full strength and the squad is balanced. We have to start at full speed but we must also make it to the end.

"We're sure we'll do well, I hope for an intense, fair and emotional game.

"Inter are in great form, we have to show that we're competitive, a win could give us a great boost and confidence for the rest of the season.

"We'll give it our all."

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