Monday December 9 2019
Conte: Fans must be 12th man

Antonio Conte warns Inter will “give everything we’ve got” against Barcelona tomorrow as he calls on fans to act as their 12th man.

Inter will qualify for the Champions League last 16 with victory over Barca, who are already sure of their place in the next phase, and Conte backed his players to get the job done, acquiring the necessary “experience” in the process.

“It’s important, certainly. We are playing to qualify in the Champions League, and this is an important moment,” he said 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 who always start 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 Nerazzurri have been handed a tough run of fixtures, and it doesn’t get any easier before the winter break.

“We live for today. 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 if it’ll inevitably bring on some pressure, but we need to play games like this to grow. We always go step by step.”

Inter took the lead through Lautaro Martinez in the reverse fixture, but Luis Suarez turned the game around with a brace so what has changed since that 2-1 defeat?

“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 difficulty.”

The Beneamata were jeered by some of their fans after their goalless draw with Roma last time out...

“We expect a lot of positive energy from all sectors, at any time. 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 objective to reach.”

Inter have to cope without Stefano Sensi, Nicolò Barella, Alexis Sanchez and Roberto Gagliardini on Tuesday, but the former Juventus boss is used to being without first-team personnel.

“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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