Tuesday, September 22, 2020

´Inter always get the short straw´ – Conte questions demanding fixture schedule after Roma draw

SoccerNews in Serie A 19 Jul 2020

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Antonio Conte hit out at Serie A chiefs for their scheduling of Inter’s fixtures and accused the match officials of making a big error in Sunday’s 2-2 draw with Roma.

The visitors salvaged a late point at Stadio Olimpico through Romelu Lukaku’s penalty after Leonardo Spinazzola and Henrikh Mkhitaryan cancelled out Stefan de Vrij’s opener.

It was Inter’s fourth match in 11 days, each of those games in the late kick-off slot, whereas title rivals Juventus have had a four-day rest ahead of Monday’s clash with Lazio.

And Conte feels that playing late in the day has been a big disadvantage for his side given the quick turnaround in fixtures.

“I want people to look at the fixture list for Inter,” he told Sky Sport Italia. “Our calendar is insane and made to cause us problems. 

“We are always playing late at night, the teams we face always have an extra day of rest compared to us. These are facts.

“It’s an anomaly, so if you are honest, look at what happened in the last round. Evidently Inter weren’t present when the fixture list was drawn up, because our calendar is crazy.

“Some teams get five days of rest. We play late at night in an away fixture and basically end up getting home at 4am.

“Everyone has to make compromises, but it’s always Inter that ends up getting the short straw. Always. It’s funny, that. If someone has to get a slap, it’s always Inter.”

Inter were a goal ahead before Spinazzola equalised in first-half stoppage time, the strike allowed to stand despite Aleksandar Kolarov catching Lautaro Martinez in the build-up.

Conte was unhappy with the decision but held back from being overly critical of the officials, who awarded Inter a late penalty for Spinazzola’s clumsy challenge on Victor Moses.

“It’s not a dubious situation. It was a very clear situation,” he said. “The Roma player does not get the ball, he gets Lautaro’s ankle. 

“I have the utmost respect for referees – they too are going through a strange and anomalous situation, so I don’t think they deserve that kind of criticism. 

“They too can make mistakes, and the referee tonight made a mistake, it happens.

“Of course, if you go into the break at 1-1 with the knowledge it was an unjust situation, it is going to make you angry.”

The draw does little for Inter’s Scudetto hopes, leaving them five points behind Juventus ahead of the reigning champions’ game in hand against fourth-placed Lazio.

They are now assured of a top-four finish and a place in next season’s Champions League, however, and Conte called for Inter’s season to be put into perspective.

“We are talking about a team that in my view is doing some very good things,” he said. 

“Aside from second place, if you look at the goals scored and conceded, we are in the Champions League with four rounds to spare and 14 points clear of fifth place.

“Let’s not forget Inter started with the same objectives for the season as Roma and Napoli. 

“Serie A has become very competitive indeed and everyone is set up to have great campaigns. Only four go into the Champions League.

“If people say Inter are below par, then what do you say about the other teams who didn’t finish in the top four?”

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