Serie A TIM

CONTE: "EVERY MATCH IS A BATTLE"

Inter picked up their sixth consecutive league victory evening thanks to an Alexis Sanchez brace. The Chilean scored a quick-fire double in the second half to put the Nerazzurri in control. Despite Hernani pulling a goal back, Inter saw the match out to move six points ahead of second place.

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

Were you expecting such a difficult match? Just how important is this victory?

“Both teams played some good football this evening. Credit to Parma, who always cause us problems. They have some good players in their ranks and an excellent coach. I think they have everything required to avoid relegation this season and I wish them all the best. It was a test of our maturity, we really needed to show our teeth and are getting better in this respect. We did well to score twice, even if we had plenty of opportunities. When we went 2-0 ahead, we could have done better. It’s only normal that a bit of apprehension crept in, also because Parma are a physically strong side. However, Samir didn’t really have to make any big saves and we had opportunities to score a third. I’m happy for the lads because they’re showing great application. This is the right way to go.”

Players like Hakimi, Perisic and Eriksen have grown mentally to reach certain levels. Is this where real strides forward have been made?

" I think that I am a very democratic coach. I give nothing for free and the lads know that we have a team and the individual comes after that. Everyone needs to make themselves available and think of the collective. This is an eager group of lads. Hakimi has grown despite being named on the bench on a few occasions. Let’s not forget that Darmian came in for him in our last match and was one of the best players on the pitch, managing to get on the scoresheet.”

What did you make of Sanchez?
"I said yesterday that he had never been in this sort of form and fitness since he joined Inter. We did well to be patient with him and he’s worked really hard. He knows that only work has brought him back to this level and, as I said yesterday, having healthy competition between our attacking players is a good thing. We’ve played with Lautaro and Lukaku up top for almost a year and a half. Last year, Esposito was here and he’s having a good year in Serie B. Now, we also have a young lad in Pinamonti, who has a lot of potential to grow. But he’s still young and needs to benefit from being a part of this group if he wants to get even better. Having all these options - which hasn’t always been the case - is really nice. The boys all feel involved and are all responding in a great way. There’s total involvement and I have a democratic approach.”

Was the philosophy that you’ve given the team is seen in the press before the second goal?
“The boys know that when we lose possession, we need to press high in order to recover the ball within five or six seconds. If your opponents beat the press, then you can drop deeper. This team’s growth is noticeable in the fact that they know when to press. Even during games, we are starting to recognise these situations, while we used to start games in the same way that we finished them before. It wasn’t easy today because Parma wanted us to press high so they could go long to Kucka.”

Are Inter running away with it?
“We’re certainly in a great position in the table. With regards to last season, we’re ahead in every aspect and we’ve improved a lot, but there are still 13 matches to go and every game in Serie A is a battle. You can always drop points on the road so we have 13 finals still to play and have to dig deep. If we finish top, we’ll be really proud because it means that we’ve taken incredible strides forward.”

(Photo Getty Images)

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