Friday, November 22, 2019

Inter´s gap to Juventus no excuse for Conte

SoccerNews in Serie A 7 Jul 2019

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Antonio Conte knows there is a huge gap between Inter and Juventus but reminded his former club he has overcome similar odds before.

Conte was speaking at his first media conference as Inter head coach, as the ex-Italy boss prepares to return to football next season having taken a sabbatical following his exit from Chelsea last year.

Inter secured a return to the Champions League under Luciano Spalletti in 2018-19 – a feat for which Conte thanked his predecessor – but were 21 points shy of title-winning Juve.

It was the Bianconeri’s eighth consecutive top-flight crown, a run that started under Conte in 2011-12 after a seventh-place finish the season before.

The 49-year-old pointed out he completed an even more impressive ascent with Chelsea to claim Premier League glory in his maiden season in England.

“It’s no secret that there’s an enormous gap right now between Inter and Juventus, while Napoli have also shown themselves to be consistent,” said Conte.

“I never set limits – I don’t want to create excuses. We know that we’ll have to put in the hard work and also work better than the others in order to bridge the gap that has formed in recent years.

“When I arrived at Juventus, the club had finished seventh for two years running, while Chelsea had just finished the season in 10th place.

“However, it’s not right to make comparisons with the past because every experience is different.

“The important thing is not to place limits on ourselves in any competition. Even if we only have one per cent of winning then we must work with this percentage.”

Conte is looking forward to returning to Juventus, despite the battering his status as a one-time playing and coaching hero in Turin is likely to have endured in light of his latest appointment.

“It’ll be a very important game when we face Juve, as we are taking on the side that has won the Scudetto eight years in a row,” he said. “But there will be another 36 games, not just the two with Juventus. So if we are to be ambitious, we must look beyond those 90 minutes.

“It’ll be emotional to step into the Juventus Stadium. You know my history very well, so there will certainly be emotions. But once that whistle blows, Juventus become adversaries.”

In an echo of his first briefing in charge of Chelsea, Conte repeatedly preached the mantra of hard work to his players.

He is also set to operate with the three-man defence that has yielded success throughout a decorated coaching career.

“Often, I’ve started with a certain idea and then changed it once I’ve got to know the players better,” added Conte. “We want to play attacking football with high intensity, football that excites our fans.

“Looking at the current Inter squad, what stands out is the strength of their defence, so logically a three-man defence would be a good way to start. We’ll see how it goes.”

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