UEFA Europa League


It’s the eve of the Europa League final, with Inter set to meet Sevilla in a big encounter at 21:00 CEST on Friday at the Stadion Köln. Ahead of the match, Coach Antonio Conte answered questions from the press.

During your playing career, you were involved in many finals and won a lot of them. However, this team doesn’t contain a huge amount of players who are used to playing in a final. What needs to be transmitted to them?
“As a player, I was certainly involved in a lot of finals. While I experienced victories, I also lost some too. People only remember if you win: I won one Champions League trophy but also lost three finals. Only victories go down in history. This is why there needs to be enthusiasm and positivity: we've had a very important Europa League campaign, one which will serve as an experience for the future. We should be proud of the fact that we’ve reached a final for the first time in ten years. History is written by winners, and this will provide us with an extra push so we can achieve the maximum.”

As a coach, you’ve always won a competition in your first year in charge. You’ve said that you always wanted there to be the perception that Inter could win something, even if there was just a 1% chance. Now, there’s a 50-50 chance that we could win a trophy: when did you think that the team could go all the way?
“This perception and the percentages have been gradually growing on a daily basis. This is because I have a great group with players that have shown great willingness to work and a desire to make themselves available for the cause. We wanted to become protagonists and we've managed to be competitive in all the competitions we've been involved in. I saw that we were making progress through our work, that our ideas were taking root. We believed and became braver. The fact that we had more courage meant that our chances of winning the Europa League increased. We need to demonstrate this out on the pitch against a team that is used to winning this competition. It won’t be easy, but we’ll do all that we can to bring joy to our fans.”

What should we fear about Sevilla?
“The word ‘fear’ isn’t part of our vocabulary. We have great respect for Sevilla and hold their team, history and experience in this competition in high regard. The respect is there, but we’ve got our own cards to play, and we’ll look to do so in the most effective manner.” 

Have you ever thought about the fact that this final could be your last as Inter Coach?
“Over the years I’ve learned to live in the moment. At the minute, I’m doing just that: I’m in a press conference ahead of a final with two champions like Handanovic and Godin beside me. But for the time being I’m thinking about the final. We’re focusing on the here and now, aiming to have no regrets at the end.”

What are your thoughts on the eve of the final?
“As always, my main concerns have been the Club and our players, and trying to do as well as we can. This is my fourth year of participating in European competitions, and I’ve had the chance to oversee matches from the round of 16 and beyond. This is for the Club, for the players and the fans, who haven’t got to witness their team in a final for many years. It’s been a long time for a side like Inter to be absent.”

The team look like they're extremely well-drilled tactically and look confident in all phases of play...
“We’ve been working from the start on particular on-field situations. It’s all very well to introduce lots of new ideas, but it can take a while before players start to incorporate them into their games, and they might even just reject them for a while. But now they really are displaying the results of all the technical, tactical, fitness and video analysis work we do. The boys have always shown dedication and believed in my ideas, and now I can see that they’re doing so with plenty of courage when before it seemed like they were taking shortcuts.”

What will be the key elements of Inter’s game in the final?
“We need to put everything into the game, we need to show that we want this trophy more than they do. We’ve got desire, determination and passion. Perhaps we’re not as experienced as they are, because they’ve got such a history in this competition. But I want to see the boys keep a cool head, while showing plenty of determination: sure, we might get another chance, but sometimes these opportunities are one-offs and winning is the only way to make Club history.”


(Photo Getty Images)