Inter coach Antonio Conte spoke to gathered reporters in the official post match press conference last night following the Nerazzurri’s disappointing 2-1 defeat to Juventus.
“You didn’t need to see them at work to see the quantity and quality of strong players in their squad. I think it’s obvious, but as I said Juve started eight years ago and have always grown, while the other teams have gone backwards: there has been such a wide gap that today we have to say that it’s hard to reduce it in 2-3 years.”
“You’ve seen the game, apart from the 15 minutes after Sensi’s departure – where we lost balance, knowledge and team value – the game was balanced, I’ve also seen the statistics, from ball possession to chances. We could have won it, but congratulations to Juventus.”
“We must be proud of what we’re doing, today there was a fall against a very strong team. We must be good at getting up and continuing on our growth path: the difference today was seen in the management of a few moments, in the experience.”
“We are too instinctive; this is part of a process of growth that will rise in these games too. We have played and lost against Barcelona and Juve, but in the end if you have lost them there is a reason. We have to be good at working on that, but I repeat I’m proud of the boys. And also, the fans should be too. They have been good, gaining more experience.”
The 50-year-old Italian coach then commented on the performance of former Manchester United forward Romelu Lukaku.
“Romelu has to train because to be imposing he needs to be in great condition. In the beginning of the season he had a back problem, then a quadriceps problem, but I think he gave everything. It is inevitable that against Barcelona Lukaku was missing and it would have been important to have him, there was Esposito who is of great potential.”
“Without Sanchez, we didn’t have that striker: Matteo Politano has different characteristics and doesn’t handle the ball or strike. Romelu worked hard, he did his best and now we hope he will overcome the small problems.”
He also discussed the team’s growth since their midweek defeat to Barcelona in the Champions League.
“In four days, we have played two of the best teams in the world, and in both games, we played with our strengths and weaknesses: the results could have been different, the games have shifted the balance. When I talk about steps, I’m lucky to have a group of guys who want to work, in place, who have the will to say their own.”
“At the same time, we must understand the difference that exists, we must not be stupid or presumptuous and think that there is no gap. I started by saying: there’s Juve at the top, then Napoli, and then we who play with the others. Let’s not get ourselves into despair, the only way we can go forward is to work hard and bring many guys with little international experience to play games of this kind. I’m proud of these guys, who deserve it.”
Conte added that both the defeats this week will help the team to grow.
“Honestly, I didn’t expect to rise to the level of Barcelona and Juve, because we’re talking about two different levels. The fact that we played at the Camp Nou with courage and were on par against a team that has more. These two games must give us even more confidence in the work we’re doing: it could have been an unequal fight, but it wasn’t.”
Finally, the Nerazzurri coach discussed what his expectations were of Juventus before the game.
“Changing the line-ups of the squad doesn’t change the result. Let’s talk about Ramsey, Higuain, Emre Can, Rabiot, these players were not on the field. You have to give credit to what has been built in these eight years: if they have acquired a champion like Ronaldo, you have to take off your hat.”
“For our part, we are thinking of building something but in front of us we have a skyscraper and it seems very tiring. We have to be visionary, understand that behind that skyscraper we have to find the area of light.”