APPIANO GENTILE - Just one more day until the final game of the 2019/20 Serie A season for Inter, as the Nerazzurri prepare to face Atalanta in Bergamo this Saturday at 20:45 CEST. After this final fixture, Inter will be turning their attentions to their Europa League commitments right around the corner. On the day of his 51st birthday, Antonio Conte gave his pre-match thoughts ahead of Saturday’s game against Gasperini’s side.
We’ve arrived at the end of the league campaign. What have you learned from this strange experience caused by the coronavirus pandemic?
“It’s certainly been a very demanding year, from lots of points of view. This whole experience has been very draining. It was a new kind of situation, but there are some positive aspects which we’ll be able to learn from in the future.”
Tomorrow you’ll be up against Atalanta. What sort of game are you expecting?
“I’m hoping for a great game. It will be an open contest, with neither side holding back. Atalanta have become a truly established team in Italy with what they’ve achieved over the last few years. They’re also in the Champions League quarter-finals. It will be tough, but the goal is to cause them problems.”
The game will pit the best defence (Inter) against the best attack in the league…
“I always think that it’s appropriate to have a good balance between defence and attack. Atalanta have scored many goals and have found the net for over 20 matches in a row. They have great qualities and high-quality players. Meanwhile, we have the best defence and second-best attack. It’ll be a challenge within a challenge, and we’re hoping to prevail.”
You mentioned how getting used to feeling pressure is important. Is this vital in terms of your team’s development?
“Yes, most certainly. It’s important to get used to dealing with the pressure of knowing that a team is behind us and wants to overtake us. The match against Napoli was fantastic. We played it in the right manner: we were attentive and showed determination in all phases against an excellent side. Now, we’re set to play our final game: I think it’s only right that we finish the season well. We can use it as a yardstick to see where we currently stand.”
Many players have been involved, with games being played at a high tempo. Are you happy that all the players have demonstrated their readiness?
“I’m satisfied, but, at the same time, I never had any doubts in this respect. My staff and I coach the lads in such a way that they’re ready from both a tactical and physical perspective. The players have responded well, this is a very professional group.”
Today is your birthday and you’ve received many warm wishes. Is there anything in particular you want to say?
“I said to the lads that I celebrated my 50th birthday with them last year. Now, we’re celebrating my 51st. A year has passed and, in terms of the work we’ve put in, it certainly feels like it.”