Inter coach Antonio Conte is confident a sustained improvement of the club’s fortunes in Serie A will inspire a greater chance of success in Europe.
Since winning a Serie A and Champions League double in 2009-10 under Jose Mourinho, the club have failed to reclaim either prize, rarely even getting close.
The hiring of Conte has seen Inter take a step in the right direction, as they appear the only side capable of challenging the Serie A dominance of Juventus, who are chasing a ninth successive title.
Juve are a point clear of Inter at the summit after 13 matches, evidence of a marked improvement under Conte. But in the Champions League, life has been rather more difficult for the Nerazzurri.
Conte has often had to field criticism of his effectiveness in the Champions League and that is no different this term, having claimed just four points from as many games, though the coach is adamant improvement is within their grasp.
Speaking of Inter’s Group F rivals to reporters on Tuesday ahead of the trip to Slavia Prague, Conte said: “Barca are LaLiga champions, they always go far in Europe. Dortmund are a top side, last year they made it hard for Bayern Munich [in the Bundesliga]. Slavia are, I think, 11 points clear – these sides are all winners, so that makes it very hard for us.
“But we know that in Serie A there are challenges. We have started our growth and development.
— Inter (@Inter_en) November 26, 2019
“By doing well in Serie A, we will then do well in Europe. We are at the start of our journey as a side, but we want to keep getting better.
“We want to stay in the competition, we want to progress. Experience for us at this level is important.
“We are always working hard. As of day one in pre-season, we have a clear identity as a side, everyone in the squad is pulling in the right direction.
“We will not change our idea, regardless of injuries. Everyone in the squad knows what I want. Each player is important to me. I have lots of faith in my players.”
Inter head into Wednesday’s game three points adrift of second-placed Borussia Dortmund, meaning failure to win could result in their elimination from the competition.
And while some might predict a straightforward win in Prague, Slavia proved in their draws against Inter and Barcelona they are capable of causing problems.
“Slavia made life hard for Dortmund and Barcelona, we found it hard in the San Siro meeting, but there is lots of motivation in the camp,” Conte added.
“We are getting better all the time. We arrive here with confidence. We are more of a team now than in the first meeting.
“We are ready for this game. The result is important. The result is a consequence of the performance.
“If we play well then the result is usually good, so we focus on putting in a good performance. Our growth comes with good displays. I want us to be strong at both ends of the pitch.”
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