Inter coach Antonio Conte is preparing for a grandstand finish to the Champions League group stage after the Nerazzurri secured an impressive 3-1 victory over Slavia Prague on Wednesday.
A Lautaro Martinez brace and Romelu Lukaku’s first European goal for the club has Inter on the brink of reaching the knockout stage, as a win against the Blaugrana will be enough to go through.
Conte praised his side for keeping their heads against a tough Slavia Prague outfit, while calling for Inter fans to fill the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on December 10 when Lionel Messi and Barcelona come to Italy.
“I’m happy as we’ve given purpose to our final match against Barcelona,” he told reporters. “We only had one option in order to stay alive, and we won.
“It will be hard, but we will be able to count on 80,000 Interisti that will know how to spur us on.
“Coming to Prague and winning despite the difficulties we have shows how compact and reactive this group is. We could have lost our cool in more than one situation and instead we showed intelligence in dealing with things.
“[Barcelona] are still a far away though. I’m more worried about how to best prepare for SPAL and Roma, in particular Sunday’s match, as we will have to focus in order to continue our growth.”
Conte heaped praise on Lautaro and Lukaku for their great team play, while also singling out Borja Valero for his professionalism after starting his first match of the season due to Inter’s recent injury crisis.
“They [Lautaro and Lukaku] knew what kind of match they would face today, and they did well to interpret it correctly,” he added.
“I am happy for them, as they play well and score which is a key for the psychology of a striker and they aren’t finished products. They can improve greatly.
“Borja Valero? After the win against Torino I praised him and [Federico] Dimarco. Even though they haven’t played, they have always shown professionalism and a love for this shirt over the past four months.
“When you train with focus your chances will always come. Borja and Dimarco are examples for this entire group.”