After their 3-1 win against Cagliari, Inter are set to make an immediate return to the pitch: at 20:45 CET on Wednesday, Gennaro Gattuso’s Napoli will be the visitors to San Siro on matchday 12 in Serie A.
Ahead of the showdown, Antonio Conte spoke to the press at the Suning Training Centre, with the Nerazzurri Coach having the following to say:
What kind of match are you expecting against Napoli?
“Two teams with the obligation to fight to the end and with the ambition to be protagonists will be meeting each other.”
In terms of Inter’s ambitions, what can the match against Napoli tell us?
“It’ll be a challenging encounter, we have the same ambitions as them. This should provide us with motivation and a yardstick from which assessments can be made.”
With a few wins, Inter have returned to being among the favourites to win the league…
“I think that we need to work hard and seek a balance that is difficult to find. If we want to be protagonists, we have to put in the hard work. We shouldn’t get too excited when we win, nor should we get too down when we suffer setbacks.”
Inter have the best attack in the league, while Napoli are second in this regard. The top places in the league are currently occupied by the teams with the best attacks: is this the path to go down?
“A team always has to find a balance in both the attacking and defensive phases, this is the way to go if you want to be a leading contender. We’ve also scored a lot of goals this season but have been conceding more, and this was particularly the case at the start of the season. Balance is important.”
How are Sanchez, Vidal, Hakimi and the other injured players doing?
“Alexis has an adductor problem and is a major doubt. Vidal suffered a grade one strain and is recovering and working well, but I think it’d be a risk to try to play him tomorrow: it could lead to him being out for another period. It’s better for him if we show patience. We’ll evaluate Hakimi during the day, out of the three he’s the one who could be available.”
Looking at the table, there’s a bit of a gap between those at the top and the other teams: over the course of the season, could top-of-the-table clashes weigh more heavily than in the past?
“This season, the league is much more balanced, at least at the moment. Games against sides with the same aims are very important, not only in terms of the table but also from a psychological point of view. Every match, including against sides who aren’t in contention for trophies, is complicated: you always need to fight and sweat. All points are important, but winning against those in and around you makes you feel stronger.”
There’s almost the obligation to win the Scudetto now following Inter’s elimination from Europe. Is this a problem or does this provide extra motivation?
“It makes me smile when an obligation is talked about. There are many teams who want to be protagonists. They start with the aim of trying to win, but, in the end, only one does. In the last nine years, the same side has always won, which is why I smile when I hear ‘obligation’. We want to improve.”
Do you think that a few of your quotes from the past have created a bit of negativity?
“I’ve become used to the fact that anything I say or do is seen in a negative light. At the beginning of the season, I was always calm during my press conferences, but then I was accused of not being myself anymore. Now, the opposite is said about me. I guess I’ll have to find a middle ground…”
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