UEFA Champions League


Inter are looking ahead to tomorrow’s Champions League clash with German outfit Borussia Mönchengladbach, which kicks off at 21:00 CEST at San Siro on Wednesday. Antonio Conte gave his press conference and responded to journalists’ questions at the Suning Training Centre today.

Do you feel like the team is now more ready for European football?
“Reaching the final last year meant we all gained experience. We added Vidal to this group, who has a lot of international experience. We’re now much better equipped than we were last season.”

How is Bastoni and what is the condition of the squad?
“Bastoni was back in training on Monday, today was his second session with the team. He’ll be on the bench, he is available. But we need to understand that when a player returns from this situation, he’s weakened. He’ll need time to get back to full fitness. We’ll assess him. We need to take a look at a couple of things in midfield too: Brozovic is a bit fatigued, we don’t want to take any risks.”

A lot of big teams struggled in the league at the weekend: in light of this, what might be Inter’s course in cup competitions?
“The league is really balanced in Italy. I see a lot of teams fighting for the top four. They’re competitive and can do well - we want to be up there. Even abroad big teams lost, like Real Madrid and Barcelona, which were unexpected results. Obviously, international duty has taken its toll; players returned fatigued. There were one or two surprising results. We need to manage our own destiny and we want to be positive.”

Why do you play with the 3-4-1-2 even when Eriksen isn’t on the pitch? Can Vidal play there too?
“We play with that system because it suits the characteristics of each individual player. We used it all the way to the Europa League final: Barella played as a 10, but drifted out to the right, with Brozovic and Gagliardini in charge of build-up. Who plays at 10 may change at times, but the performance remains the same; Eriksen, Barella, Sensi, Vidal and Nainggolan can all play there.”

Are you considered the favourites in Madrid? Does that weigh you down or give you a boost?
“I’m not sure they see us that way. Real Madrid won La Liga, they have some great players, who’ve won the Champions League on many occasions. The feeling that Real Madrid are the underdogs makes me laugh. Evaluations must always be carried out in a serious, focused manner.”

Do you feel that you are lacking an international trophy in your coaching career?
“I’m getting close to it. In four years I’ve reached - in the two competitions - the Round of 16, the quarters, a semi-final and a final. Of course, not having won in Europe is a problem for me. I enjoy doing it with club teams, that’s the most important thing. You only ever win as a team. I can be satisfied; I’ve made all the steps and had a career to be proud of.”

How is Sanchez?
“We were really worried. The news from Chile wasn’t good at first. He returned with muscle strain; we were aware of this and dealt with it. He played for 15 minutes on Saturday and we were a bit apprehensive. He told me that he was well, that he trained. I could start him tomorrow.”

The defensive structure and the characteristics of your defenders: is there something that can be changed?
“We played the same way last year, defending high up the pitch. I think the skills of our defenders allow us to deal with this type of situation. Godin left and Kolarov arrived. The others were already here and we have the best goal difference in the league last season. We’re working hard and need to take the positives and improve on the negatives. If we don’t have time, we use a lot of video analysis - we’re not worried. Italians are often accused of playing defensive football, while we’re just trying to play the same style of football that took us to the Europa League final.”


(Photo Getty Images)