Inter coach Antonio Conte spoke to the gathered reporters at a press conference today, ahead of tomorrow’s league clash against SPAL, with Italian media outlet FcInterNews in attendance.
“SPAL use the same system as us. There are a lot of situations that we do too, they’re an organised team with a clear idea and a good coach. We will have to be very careful because they will be tough. What I will say is that after important matches home or away as in Prague it is inevitable that a form of fulfillment and relaxation can take place.”
“This must not happen, I would be very disappointed if this were to happen tomorrow also because in our path there is growth from all points of view and we must give the correct answers. SPAL are a serious obstacle, hard, to be faced with maximum concentration and knowing that for us this game is vital.”
He touched on the work he’s done with Milan Skriniar, Lautaro Martinez and Romelu Lukaku so far this season.
“They’ve grown a lot since the start of the season. Before the match against Slavia Prague I said that our team was different from the first leg and that our two forwards were totally different from the disintegrated ones at the San Siro.”
“They’ve been working, they’re learning to understand what positions to be in. They are working hard to make the most of their characteristics and they can do both the first and the second striker role. Thanks to them who are working, at the same time it is right to point out that the goal is the final part, important, but there is also a great commitment in the phase of possession and not possession. As I said, there’s still a lot to work on and improve.”
The 50-year-old Italian coach then spoke about the injured Stefano Sensi and when he expects him to return, as well as tomorrow’s importance.
“The calculations are that tomorrow’s game is worth three points, that’s all you need to know to get answers. Tomorrow’s game is the most important one that awaits us, the players know it. I have great respect for SPAL, there’s nothing obvious about football.”
“We’re dealing with an organised team, with an idea of the game, a motivated coach and players who want to put a stop to a favourable moment for us. Tomorrow’s line-up will be the best as it was for Slavia and Torino. For me and the lads tomorrow there has to be only the goal of winning, we have to look at ourselves and put hay in the farmhouse. On Sensi, the club’s doctor who will give you the explanations for each game.”
Conte discussed the enthusiasm in the squad, seen in this week’s game against Slavia Prague.
“The fact that there is enthusiasm is beyond doubt because those who play or those who do not play have great empathy anyway. This is very important, you can take a deep breath and feel positive. If I want to grasp a positive aspect of the difficulties we have had for a month and a half, it is that of having cemented our group even more.”
“In the obvious difficulties for absences this is a squad that has understood that only by growing together and trusting in your partner you can build something important and positive. This does not mean winning but having created a positive environment is giving us a different awareness than in the past.”
“For the rest we are one third of the league in, we’re doing good things but it’s very early to sum it up. We look at ourselves, doing our best. Then we’ll certainly have a moment when we’ll look at each other and if there’s anything to say we’ll tell each other.”
The former Chelsea and Juventus coach then spoke about Inter starlet Sebastiano Esposito and whether or not he would start tomorrow.
“It’s not whether you have confidence or not and it’s not whether you start him or not. If I hadn’t trusted him, I would have been a fool to throw him into the game on Wednesday at 1-1 knowing that we only had one result. We’re talking about a guy who’s a full-blown player, and I have great respect and confidence in him.”
“He’s absolutely no longer one of the five, he’s joined the squad of four forwards we have. I have great respect for him, that said I’ll try to put the best possible line-up. I’m not going to think of Rome or Barcelona, we’ll start winning tomorrow because if we do, we’ll face Roma with even more enthusiasm.”
“We have to ride the wave and stay on the piece. I’ll make choices based on the moment and on many situations knowing very well that SPAL will make us work hard. I’ll also tell the fans that tomorrow’s game won’t be a walk in the park, and they’ll have to support us even more, like with Verona.”
Conte also touched on the team’s growth since the start of the season.
“I talked about team growth, I said that we had grown in so many ways. It’s inevitable that the cover will include those who finalise, but the growth has occurred for the whole team and in all respects. It’s useless for me to say this today after winning an important game. It’s important to have said that before the game, we’re different from what we were then.”
He revealed how important the win against Slavia Prague was.
“I think what we’re doing in the league, but the course in the Champions League has also been tough. We’ve always faced our opponent head-on. The fact that we managed to get a situation back into our hands in the Champions League must give us a lot of enthusiasm.”
“Positive enthusiasm, not that of the madmen because this makes you leave out the work, the detail, the desire to get the three points. We try to channel the positive enthusiasm that must give us awareness to increase this enthusiasm, winning the game and playing it in the right way. With the right will and determination, especially with the desire on the pitch to win the game. We have shown against Verona, Torino and Slavia that we have more desire than our opponents.”
The 50-year-old Italian spoke about the team’s recent improvements.
“We’ve had more time to work on things. We’ve taken up some concepts and situations that we can work on, and I always say that we shouldn’t forget that this year we’ve got a new coach. When you play every three days, it’s hard to touch buttons. We started working again on some aspects of the defensive phase and this has borne fruit, more solidity also from this point of view.”
He wasn’t keen on bringing in Gabriel ‘Gabigol’ Barbosa into the squad.
“I think Marotta has already spoken, the team I think have very clear ideas from this point of view. I like to talk about my players. I’m happy for Gabigol but now I don’t consider him a player of mine. That would be disrespectful to my players and to him.”
Conte spoke about the difference in the league table between the top two teams, Juventus and Inter, and the rest of the teams.
“This is the biggest surprise for us because we replaced three important players, which nobody did.Nobody sold important players. We replaced three important elements in the Inter project. That should come as a surprise. There are those who talk about the transfer market, but we have replaced three important pieces that in light of what they are doing in other teams it leaves us happy because we are doing well and they also.”
“We’re waiting for an economic return, hopefully. We’re happy about what’s happening, but we’re thinking about ourselves. So far, it’s certainly a nice surprise for Inter. For what we have done and what others have done, since they have added, and we have replaced.”
Finally, Conte spoke about the 4-3-3 formation used against Slavia Prague this week.
“Surely when we are in tight situations it can be a solution. We must always understand that even when we force the game we must never lose balance in the defensive phase so that with three forwards the team becomes even stronger in attack but at the same time you lose some balance in the defensive phase and we must not lose.”