Antonio Conte warns the 19-point gap between Inter and Milan is not to be trusted, welcoming Christian Eriksen and Zlatan Ibrahimovic to the derby.
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“When we met it was only Week 4, so neither side knew what type of season awaited them,” said the coach in his press conference.
“Milan had Marco Giampaolo in charge, now it’s Stefano Pioli, both teams have changed a great deal. We start a run of fixtures now and after that we’ll have a better idea of what our journey will be.”
The pressure is arguably all on Inter, as they are the favourites to win with a 19-point advantage over their city rivals.
“What I can say is that Milan certainly deserve to have more points than they currently do, as they are a fine team, with a champion like Ibrahimovic who brings confidence and experience.
“I think Ibrahimovic’s presence will add to the entertainment level and I always welcome facing the best. I also believe it’ll be a strong emotional moment for Ibrahimovic, too.
“The derby always has hidden dangers and we need to be fully focused, playing with humility and intensity. Our concentration must be on the three points, so the fact it’s a derby just adds extra difficulties, because there is such motivation to have bragging rights in the city. It was the same in London or Turin.”
Conte refused to be drawn on whether Samir Handanovic will play with a protective glove, after he was diagnosed with a hairline fracture in the little finger of his left hand.
There are also reports that Christian Eriksen could be used in a new ‘support striker’ role behind Romelu Lukaku.
“We brought in Eriksen because he has characteristics that suit our style of football. Italy is far more tactical than in other leagues, so he’ll need some time to get adjusted to the changes.
“I hope he doesn’t need too long, because we need him. He is an intelligent player who understands football, so we’re very pleased to have him.”
Eriksen is the fifth player Conte has signed from the Premier League, so is this a precise strategy for the former Chelsea manager?
“I had a great experience in England, one of the most important leagues in the world. You can find many talented players there and in this case, we found the best opportunities to pick up players from the Premier League.
“It was a tactical decision, partly for their quality, but also their intensity.”
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