MILAN –With 24 hours until Inter host Hellas Verona on matchday 33 in Serie A (for all the stats on the game, click HERE), Antonio Conte had his say on the match at San Siro in his press conference.
What kind of game should we expect?
It’ll be a tough game, against a team that was going well in the league before a string of bad results, but I watched a bit of these games and, I have to say, they didn’t deserve to lose. They also have a great coach in Juric. He’s the kind of guy that can turn the fortune of a Club because he looks to improve his players through hard work. He did that last year and he’s doing it again this year. I can only say good things about him because we can all see what he is doing at Hellas.
How difficult and how stimulating has it been to get this group to mature, especially in their will to win?
It wasn’t a first for me because, apart from the promotion with Bari, my time at Juventus started from zero in terms of the winning mentality. Apart from the fact that you need to be full of ideas and desire to work, you get lucky when you find a group of players that show their availability because that’s what’s important. I’ve been fortunate enough to find a bunch of lads that are hungry to put forward their case and to try to do something a bit different compared to previous experiences. We’re growing in all aspects. Now, we need to try to reach the next milestone because once you’re there, you know what needs to be done in order to win and this sticks with a player forever. We’re on our way but need to get the job done.
Are you asking for something a bit different for these games? More clinical, more alert?
I don’t think there’s a lot to say given the path we are on and what we have done. The boys know it. We’ve done really well; they all know that there’s that last step to be taken but, at the same time, they’re calm and working hard. Our squad is in a good place. I think we deserved more against Napoli and Spezia. The team is healthy, believes in itself, has given away very little, has the right focus and is determined. We know that it will be a difficult game tomorrow. Verona are good team: they’re prepared and very physical. They have caused problems for all the big teams. If we keep that in mind and know that we might have to suffer, then we can be confident.
What’s been the most difficult season of your career?
It’s pointless to focus on some things. People know what kind of season we’re having. We need to keep our concentration and finish the season by taking Inter back to the very top. We’ve shown that we’re a great group of professionals, with an attachment to the Club, the shirt and the fans. We have one more step to take to crown something amazing and I think that this was unimaginable two years ago.
Your third-last and penultimate games are against Roma and Juventus. Are you hoping to wrap it up before then?
Once we had overtaken AC Milan and went top, we’ve had the fortune to just be able to think about ourselves and to just win games. We can’t look at the table. Winners just focus on themselves and we just need to look at ourselves. We’re in charge of our own destiny. If you play and win, the other sides are the ones that have to look at the table. This is the message I have wanted to send since we overtook AC Milan.
Is there an open dialogue with the President? Has he been supportive in the day-to-day work?
I’m not going to get into this before a game. I think the right thing to do is to focus on the game because we playing for the work that we have done in the past two years.
What would winning the Scudetto mean? Also as a future perspective?
I look at the present. I won’t talk until I have the trophy in my hand, it would be stupid and presumptuous to do anything else. We need to earn it. We’re on the right track so we have the chance but nothing is won just yet. I am focused on making sure that the team concentrates on an objective, which is not yet reached. We need calm, patience and hard work.
Looking at the Champions League semi-finalists, how much distance is there for a future Inter team to make up?
When everything is done, we’ll talk about it. I hope to celebrate this year, then I’ll answer these questions on the future?