Antonio Conte assures Juventus remain ‘the reference point’ for Serie A clubs, so beating them 2-0 must give Inter ‘the self-belief to know we are on the right path, but admits to concern about their financial status.
This is the first time Conte has managed to beat Juve since leaving the club, having previously lost all three attempts.
It was another ex-Juve man, Arturo Vidal, who opened the scoring, before Nicolò Barella ran onto an inspired Alessandro Bastoni long ball.
“In order to beat a team like Juventus, which for all the Italian clubs are the reference point, we have to put in a great performance,” Conte told Sky Sport Italia.
“We did that this evening. We prepared well and it’s satisfying to see that we were right about the things we thought could hurt Juventus. The lads followed the plan perfectly and I am very happy for them, because these are games that must give you self-belief, let you understand you are on the right path.
“We already saw fruits of this process last season, we are continuing to see them this term. Juventus were an important reference point, a side that dominated Serie A for nine years, having done exceptional work both on the field and as a club.”
The Nerazzurri also had not defeated Juventus at San Siro in Serie A since September 2016, when Frank de Boer was at the helm.
“I still maintain Juve have a gap not just from Inter, but all the other clubs, but we are working to close the gap. We have seen that Inter regained their credibility, both on a national and international level, because we reached the Europa League Final.
“The Champions League elimination is an open wound and one we carry with us, but the lads know they can learn from those scars and use them to ensure the same things don’t happen again.”
Is this the end of the Juventus era that Conte himself started a decade ago?
“Eras end if you do not renovate and innovate, but Juve have done very well over the years to maintain a skeleton of the side like Chiellini, Bonucci and Buffon, who give you experience and a sense of belonging.
“Juventus did a great job by adding Morata, Kulusevski, McKennie and Chiesa this season alone, not to mention Arthur. That means there is a vision, there are people who know what they are doing and see what needs to be done early,” continued the coach.
“It’s incredible that Juve have dominated for nine years and want to dominate for a 10th. I do think the gap remains, but the other clubs are working more than ever to get closer. I have the utmost respect for Juventus, as they fully deserved all these victories.
“This is a start for us, but beating Juventus with such great champions, including Cristiano Ronaldo, should give you the belief that you are on the right track. I had never beaten Juventus in my coaching career. I always got hammered, and deservedly, so this is progress.”
It could’ve been a lot more than 2-0, as Lautaro Martinez in particular wasted several opportunities.
“We didn’t get goals from the strikers today, but I think it was mainly bad luck, as Lautaro and Romelu had the chances. This is a team that creates a great deal of scoring opportunities, but we don’t have the killer instinct, so we usually need three or four chances to score.
“At the same time, we have a team that can provide goals from many different players in all areas, so I am certainly not worried.”
Suning are in negotiations to sell Inter with reports of serious financial instability, perhaps needing to delay the payment of wages.
“We can’t say it is not of interest, because that would be a huge lie. At the same time, I’ve been very clear with the players and all those who work for the club,” confessed Conte.
“We must try to do our best, make the fans proud, and then we’ll see. I already knew from August that there were some problems. I hope the situation can be resolved in the best way.
“As I said, we hope it all goes in the best way for Inter and for all of us.”
Yet he couldn’t resist one final swipe at the club over the lack of investment when asked if Inter can now be considered Scudetto favourites.
“You can see the year-and-a-half of work on the field, even if some don’t see it, or don’t want to see it. I said this was an important step, as we had to learn to taste blood and kill the game. It’s very different to last season, when Juve effectively didn’t let us play. It’s the start, we need confirmation, but it’s a strong start.
“If people think we are the favourites now, imagine if we’d been able to work on the transfer market in August. We’d be massive favourites!”