Antonio Conte said Inter will “give all we’ve got” to get to the last 16 when they face Barcelona in the decisive group stage fixture in the Champions League.
If the Nerazzurri win the game against the Blaugrana, they will have secured a place in the knockout stages and Conte insisted his players “need the experience.”
“It’s important, certainly. We are playing to qualify in the Champions League, and this is an important moment,” Conte told the reporters at a press conference. “At the draw, they were talking about a very difficult group. Being here, on the last day, with the chance to play against Barcelona, must give us satisfaction and pride.
“We want to continue to play in this competition, with players who need the experience.”
“Barcelona remain one of the four or five teams that always starts the competition to win it. They are a very strong team and have secured the top spot in the group. This means they can play without any pressure and that can often create problems.
“So, nothing changes. We need to play well, give all we’ve got, knowing that it might not be enough.”
The team has been going through a tough fixture list and it doesn’t get any easier before the awaited winter break.
“We live for the day; we want to arrive at Christmas in a difficult situation. Tomorrow we face Barcelona, a top team, at our place and if we win, we will be sure of going to the knockout stages.
“This must give us enthusiasm, even pressure, but we need to play games like this to grow. We always take step by step.”
Inter took the lead through Lautaro Martinez in the reverse fixture, but Luis Suarez turned the game around with a brace. Conte said that a lot has changed since the 2-1 loss at Camp Nou.
“Two months have passed; the team have faced difficulties and opponents are growing between every time. At Camp Nou, we played with courage and desire, but the defeat came thanks to their great players.
“We have grown, some things have changed, we will try to respect them and at the same time limit our opponent. If we think we won’t suffer when Barca are in possession, we would be fools. When we get the possession, we will try to put them in difficulties.”
During the goalless draw against Roma last weekend, Inter were jeered by their own fans and Conte wants to hear them support their side tomorrow.
“We expect a lot of positive energy from all sectors, at any time,” he said. “Our stadium can give us a lot of positive energy and I am sure it will. We all want to get to the last 16, it would be a prestigious goal.”
Inter have to cope without Stefano Sensi, Nicolò Barella, Alexis Sanchez and Roberto Gagliardini, but Conte says they are getting used to it by now.
“We have been living with this situation for a long time. The positive aspect is the big responsibilities that will lead to a quicker collective growth. There are three games left before Christmas, we have the right enthusiasm to face them with the right approach, with all we’ve got and even more, especially tomorrow.”
“I ask for respect for my players, no need to look over my shoulders. We are focused on tomorrow, which is the most important thing for us. We remain focused on our goal and the rest will come by itself.”
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