Speaking before his side’s Champions League match Wednesday against Borussia Dortmund, Inter coach Antonio Conte sought to play down the importance of the clash, claiming it was premature to consider it a final rather than simply a big game against a difficult opponent.
The Nerazzurri side have picked up just one point from their first two Champions League matches and currently sit joint bottom of Group F behind their German visitors and Barcelona. And while many have suggested Wednesday’s game should be seen as a potential turning point, Conte insisted the best approach was to take things one match at a time.
“It’s a bit much to call it a final,” Conte told the press. “It’s important to get points in every game and since day one we’ve tuned our style and ideas towards this objective.
“We should have done better against Slavia Prague, we deserved much more in Barcelona. And now we face Dortmund who, I repeat, are a very strong side.”
When asked about his team’s recent defensive struggles, given they have conceded seven goals against in the last three matches, and in particular the early season performances of Diego Godin, the Inter boss was quick to point out that the Uruguayan was adjusting to a new system and, like everyone, would need time to adapt.
“He [Godin] has had to work a ton because we’re talking about a completely different style of play,” Conte continued. “But he’s working hard and is willing to learn.”
Rather than dwell on Inter’s issues at the back-end, Conte noted instead how well his side have attacked this season, and spoke specifically to Lautaro Martinez’s potential.
“For us the glass if half-full, we’ve scored 18 goals this season, the second most in the league,” Conte explained.
“Martinez is working hard and becoming a complete forward. He still has room to grow and a ton of potential.
“It’s up to him to decide if he wants to become a top player.”
In the end, despite the barrage of questions and concerns thrown at Conte, his message remained that his team was continuing to develop and that was all he could ask for against Dortmund.
“I want to see improvement,” said Conte. “It’s a game we have to try and win. For this we’ll aim to give our all.”