Friday, November 26, 2021

A piece of the Scudetto in his pocket? Conte laughs off Inter title claims for now

SoccerNews in Serie A 9 Mar 2021

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Inter coach Antonio Conte is refusing to get carried away about his side’s Serie A title prospects despite Monday’s 1-0 win over contenders Atalanta restoring their six-point buffer.

Milan Skriniar scored the lone goal of the game from a 54th-minute corner as Inter responded after their closest competitors Milan and Juventus both won earlier in the weekend.

Fifth-placed Atalanta, the second top scorers in Serie A behind Inter this season, posed a major threat but the Nerazzurri did enough to claim their seventh consecutive league win, prompting calls they have one hand on the Scudetto already with 12 games to play.

“If I look in my pocket, I find €40,” Conte laughed, when asked post-game if he felt he has a piece of the Scudetto in his pocket. “I went to get petrol and I have €40 left.

“Having said that, we must continue. There are still two games before the break against Torino, entangled in the bottom half of the standings, and the other is against Sassuolo, who create big problems for everyone.

“We have to continue not thinking about what it was. Tomorrow, the lads will rest, we recharge our batteries and get ready.”

The ex-Chelsea manager added: “We went back being six points clear. We played later and knew that our direct rivals had won in Verona, Juve had won against Lazio and they had come closer, and it’s inevitable that pressure will increase from now until the end.

“There was a lot in it but we hope to carry on improving from now until the end, it’s also important to mention that Atalanta is a tough team that takes points from all of the big sides.”

Conte said he believed the result meant Atalanta were now out of the title race, despite their obvious quality that drew his praise.

“In my opinion today, they prepared it more wisely than in previous games, maybe because they feared a bit the fact that we knew how to hurt them, and they were a little less vigorous than usual,” he said.

“They are three important points against an excellent team. Practically we detached Atalanta from the Scudetto battle, in the sense that we are 13 points clear.

“For me, Atalanta were a team that, due to the maturity reached in Europe, wouldn’t just aspire to a Champions League place but play for the Scudetto too.

“Credit to them, to Gasperini and to the players. They have high-quality players, not only those who play, but the substitutes as well.”

Inter are next in action in Serie A on Sunday against Torino.

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