NAPLES – Despite another excellent performance where they created several chances, Inter were unable to extend their winning run this evening as they draw away to Napoli. After hitting the woodwork twice in the first half and falling behind through an own goal, the Nerazzurri responded after the restart and levelled matters through Eriksen’s wonderful strike. It thus finished 1-1 at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona, with Conte’s men now holding a nine-point advantage over second place as a result.
This is what Antonio Conte had to say after the match:
How can this Inter side improve further?
“At this current time, we need to focus on the present and not talk about the transfer market. I’m very happy and proud of this group of lads: we’ve made big strides forward in all respects. This was a game we would have lost in the past, albeit undeservedly. Today, however, we saw a team that knows what it’s doing and knows what it wants. We’ve never lost sight of the right way forward, even when something unfortunate has happened, like the goal we conceded today. What we’re doing right now is too important to think about the future. We need to remain focused on the present. Then, when the season is over, we’ll have the chance to figure things out.”
Despite drawing, you seemed satisfied at the end. What were you happy about?
“The fact that we would have struggled in a match like this in the past, one where we unluckily fell behind. However, the team reacted well. They know how strong they are and never lose their way. Napoli were at full strength tonight and I’ve always considered them to be contenders for the Scudetto. There are some who might have thought that we could have less hunger than them this evening and that this was a bonus match, but let’s just say my pneumatic drill was loud and clear in the players’ minds. The lads understood the importance of not giving hope to those who are in pursuit of us. It’s true that AC Milan and Atalanta have gained two points on us today, but we showed our solidity on a mental level.”
What has made Inter reach this level?
“I’ve always said that Inter’s growth would come about through the growth of the players, and not just in football terms. This is a group of lads that have shown great willingness and put themselves into contention to win. We wanted to fight for something important. Every day, I tell them that team triumphs come before personal success. Winning is the only way to become great. Simply remaining here for many years won’t make you a history-maker, even if you’ve done a good job.”
Eriksen has become one of the first names on the team sheet. What has caused this?
"The fact that I've had more time to work with him, as well as the fact that Christian now understands that there are two phases of play in a very tactical league like the Serie A and they are both important. Now, he's playing with consistency and I'm convinced that he can do even better. Christian has some great attributes and he's increasing his levels of aggression and intensity. This is helping us a lot."