APPIANO GENTILE – For the last game in the first round of fixtures Inter head to the Dacia Arena in Udine on Saturday 18 January to take on Luca Gotti’s side. On the eve of the match, Antonio Conte responded to journalists’ questions in his press conference.
What kind of match can we expect tomorrow against Udinese?
We cannot underestimate any opponent, least of all Udinese who are a physical, well-structured team with strong, quality players who are strong in the counter attack. It is a match not to be underestimated but to be prepared for in the best possible way which is what we have done, it will be a tough battle from all points of view because Udinese are a team that can create difficulties for anyone.
Where do you see Inter after this week? Was the perfect Inter the one we saw after the Juventus win?
As I said in the post-match press conference, when you beat strong teams like Juventus, you have to have a great game and make very few mistakes and we are good at playing this type of match, not making particular mistakes and we won and took the three points. It helped us understand that we are on the right path, but there is a long way to go. These matches must give us the enthusiasm to work even harder.
How important is it now to assert your dominance in the next few matches?
For a team like Inter this is always important. Those who play for Inter understand the history and tradition that surrounds this club and as such they must always give their all in every match. We know that tomorrow when we start again there will be three points up for grabs against an excellent team and we need to be at 110% and have maximum concentration and attention in all situations.
From what we’ve seen in the first round of matches, have AC Milan and Inter surpassed Juventus as the big favourites?
This season there are seven teams that could challenge for the Scudetto and for a Champions League place, and the first round of fixtures confirms this. Some teams have travelled at a faster pace, some less, but the first round of matches confirms this.
There is another important challenge facing you on Tuesday, will this affect your team selection?
When selecting my team, I am only thinking about Udinese, we know the importance of the league which is where we have a chance of winning the Scudetto and qualifying for the Champions League, therefore we are only concentrating on Udinese. This is the most important match for us right now.
In the last three matches no attacker has scored for Inter, only defenders and midfielders.
This is a well-established thing in my teams, that it’s not just the forwards who score. Last year we were among the teams with the highest number of players to score because we attack with so many players. So, it is inevitable that the two forwards have the most opportunities to score because that’s where the play converges, but I think that the characteristic of this team is involving all the players because we attack in different ways, with different players and in all positions.
Could the victory against Juventus signal a change in mentality?
We have started on a journey, for a year and a half now there have been improvements from all points of view, not only on the pitch but also with our mentality. This journey involves all the players, when you want to reach important goals everyone must grow together, at a technical-tactical level, and in terms of mentality and concentration, and everyone is taking the right steps. There have been many steps forward, and we have even had setbacks which then make us understand that if we want to stay at the top the margins of error must be minimal and we must not be satisfied with momentary success, because we must think of lasting success that can lead to us winning something important come the end of the season.
How is Sanchez doing?
Alexis played for 120 minutes against Fiorentina.
In terms of mentality, are you doing something similar to what you did in your first year at Juventus?
I don’t want to make comparisons. It is inevitable that our growth comes from our belief, from convincing the players through hard work and results. The work of a coach involves everything, even psychological work, the players know that I will never lie to them, they know what I really think and what I want from them and this is the most important thing.
Does Juventus' victory in the Super Cup prove what a great win it was for you?
We care little about glorifying other team’s achievements. We played an excellent game from all points of view, if we hadn't played an excellent game we would have found it difficult to win against a team that is used to playing these types of games in which you must give your all. We know how much of it is down to us and this is the most important thing.