UEFA Champions League

CONTE: "WHEN WE PLAY AS A TEAM, OUR OPPONENTS EXPERIENCE DIFFICULTIES"

Inter recorded a precious and richly deserved win at the Borussia-Park on matchday five in the 2020/21 UEFA Champions League, with Conte’s men managing to run out 3-2 winners against Borussia Mönchengladbach thanks to a goal from Darmian and a Lukaku brace. It’s a result that leaves Group B wide open going into the final matchday. The Nerazzurri need to beat Shakhtar at the Meazza and hope that the other group match doesn’t end in a draw in order to qualify for the last 16.

This is what Antonio Conte had to say after the match:

Inter are still not perhaps the perfect side, but it seems like the team are united, compact and growing continuously. How important is this win tonight?

“If you’re not a team, it’s impossible to come to this stadium and win against Borussia, who are an excellent side enjoying a great run of form. We played as a team tactically and in terms of our character. We produced a big performance and showed desire and determination, ending up with a deserved victory. We could have avoided having to dig in quite so much, but we’re still alive in the Champions League and this is the most important thing. We have the right spirit, and we can cause our opponents problems when the lads have this attitude.”

Lukaku said he’s not a leader but just one of 25 leaders in the group. Do you agree?

"Romelu is right, this is what I ask of everybody. We can only improve as a team and be ambitious if we all take on more responsibility. We’re going down a path and matches like this are important because they prove that we’re a team. We want to make our fans proud and we’re all working in the same direction.”

What did you say at the break after conceding in stoppage time? 

“That goal in the last second of the first half could have killed us. We created a lot, while they only threatened on a few occasions. In the dressing room, we analysed some situations and I told the guys that that we needed to play like we did in the first 30 minutes. The goal to make it 1-1 could have killed our morale, but I felt we needed to keep showing the quality that we had in the first half because we were going to eventually be rewarded for it. I was able to predict things well and I’m happy for the guys because they truly deserved this win.” 

The midfield was excellent today. Does it all become easier when the play in the middle is like that?

“Yes, we did well as a team. The midfield is sort of the area of the pitch that changes the balance. We can’t forget that Brozovic was back from COVID, while Barella is constantly on the pitch and also had some discomfort with his calf. We took risks but the guys were excellent today at both ends, as they showed in stoppage time with Brozovic’s sliding tackle in our box in the final minutes. We know Gagliardini, he’s a reliable player in every aspect.” 

How important is the coach in the development of the Italian group? You just have to think of the performances from Darmian, the improvement from Bastoni and Barella, the importance of Gagliardini’s role…

“Apart from Darmian, who has experience, the others are still young and have big margins for improvement. They’re reliable guys in every way and my job is to develop them. I’m very happy for Matteo because he was excellent after also playing in Reggio Emilia. He’s a reliable player and he allows us to let Hakimi develop in a calm way.”

(Photo Getty Images)

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