Antonio Conte insists Inter should not be knocked down by defeat to Real Madrid, but rather ‘show us the path we must take’ to bridge that gap.
The Nerazzurri are practically out of the Champions League with two points from four games and run the very real risk of not even getting third place with a spot in the Europa League.
Arturo Vidal saw red, but even before that, Inter seemed unlikely to make much impact on a reshuffled Real Madrid side.
“It was always going to be difficult playing against big clubs like Real Madrid, so when going a goal down and a man down, it becomes an impossible mountain to climb,” Conte told Sky Sport Italia.
“I think we saw the difference between them and us. It shouldn’t knock us down. It should show us there’s a path we must take and we need to be hungry, hard-working and humble, to realise where we are and not let ourselves get swayed by voices from the outside.
“The only path forward is to work hard and grow in every possible way.”
Conte shrugged off questions on Inter’s dependency on Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez for goals.
“I don’t think we’re weak upfront, as we score plenty of goals. We are perhaps conceding a few too many at the moment. As I said, the game was immediately an uphill struggle and it became difficult to get back into it due to a red card that was caused by an excessive protest.
“This is the situation, we accept it. We had done much better and were more aggressive in Madrid, but it was tough here to be almost immediately 1-0 down and then see a player sent off. That knocked the wind out of us.
“Nonetheless, I think the team worked very hard today and put the effort in. Don’t forget, we were against Real Madrid and not the bottom of the table club.”
Inter are bottom of their Champions League group on two points from four games, as Shakhtar Donetsk have four, Real Madrid seven and Borussia Monchengladbach eight.
The night was overshadowed by the passing of Diego Armando Maradona.
“We are all shedding tears for the loss of a man who wrote football history and will always be an indelible figure in this sport. He was the poetry of football. I had the pleasure of playing against him, of marking him, and it still doesn’t seem real that he’s gone, especially as he was still young. It’s very sad.”