These were the thoughts of Antonio Conte after the match against Lazio:
“We’re showing significant mental strength and a certain consistency. I’m particularly happy for the guys, but this has to be a starting point for us and we’re not there yet. Otherwise, all of this work that we’re doing will be in vain. The next match is the Derby and it’s much better to go into that ahead of them. It'll be a great game between two teams with big ambitions.”
How much of Lukaku’s performance down to Conte and how much of Inter’s performance down to Lukaku?
"Romelu has shown a significant reaction like the whole team. Lautaro did too, but lots of them did well tonight. Perisic put in a notable performance at both ends of the pitch and our defenders were perfect, it’s hard to speak about anybody in particular. Of late, Romelu has had a few struggles but it’s normal to have moments of poorer form. We need this Romelu, who was back at his usual standard. We need him like we need the whole team and this grit.”
Was Valentine’s Day the perfect time to move things forward with Eriksen?
“Christian is adapting to us and understanding what we want from him. The fact that he’s playing with consistency shows how he’s improving. This is the way to go, he played very well, and this is important because we’ll need everyone from here to the end. We’ll need Christian just as we’ll need players like Vecino, who we’ve got back, or Gagliardini, who’s always ready. We’re all moving forward in the same direction with the single goal of making our fans proud.”
There have been significant improvements in defence and attack, with new options also now available thanks to Eriksen. Is that role as a left-sided mezz’ala the one where the Dane can be at his best?
“Christian had some problems adapting because Italian football is difficult and it’s very tactical. It’s also more intense compared to previous years. He’s now started to understand certain mechanisms and get involved in key situations. Bit by bit, we’ve been able to involve him and he now understands Italian better, which helps his understanding with his teammates. He was very alert today, not just in attack, where he brings quality, but also in defence. He’s certainly and extra weapon for us and I’m calmer for having various options.”
Perisic set up against Lazzari was the tactical surprise of tonight. When was that worked on?
“Like with Eriksen, we’ve worked a lot with Ivan on his role. He’s an attacking winger, but we worked on things and now he can play at both ends of the pitch. He can do incredible things and I think he can still improve a lot. He did very well defensively tonight and it wasn’t easy tonight. I’m very happy that he came back to Inter. He put himself in contention and when you have quality available to you, you can reap the rewards in the end. Ivan is maturing a lot, and this is important for us because it increases the number of options we have available to us.”
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