Wednesday February 12 2020
Conte: 'Napoli came to defend'

Inter boss Antonio Conte congratulated Gennaro Gattuso’s Napoli for “coming here to play a very defensive game, with Dries Mertens marking Marcelo Brozovic.”

A deflected Fabian Ruiz strike was the only goal at San Siro in the first leg of this Coppa Italia semi-final, just days after a 4-2 thriller against Milan.

“Napoli came here to play a very defensive game, with Dries Mertens marking Marcelo Brozovic and all the spaces closed up,” Conte told Rai Sport.

“In some cases, we need to be faster at moving the ball around and seeking a one-on-one situation, which we could’ve done better. In any case, I congratulate Napoli, as their strategy evidently paid off, seeing as they won.

“The derby took away a lot of energy, both physical and especially psychological. I made five changes from Sunday to bring in fresh legs, but Napoli beat Juventus, Lazio and Liverpool this season, so that means they’ve got quality there. I’d say that, after Juventus, Napoli have the most impressive squad in Serie A.”

Why were the Nerazzurri so easily neutralised compared to the side that fought back from 2-0 down to beat Milan 4-2?

“Milan played in a more attacking mode, with spaces opening up on one side and the other. There were no spaces today, as Napoli played a very tactical game.

“Gennaro Gattuso was smart to sit back, wait and go on the counter. We had the chances and it would’ve been a fair result if we had played out a draw.

“When you’re up against defensive teams like this, you have to move the ball around faster and create spaces. Napoli were so clammed up.

“We are at the start of this journey, so if some think we are at the same level as a side that was at the top for many years, then I say we’re a long way off and have to use these defeats to improve.”

Christian Eriksen came off the bench for the second game in a row.

“He is certainly a player of quality, he needs to rediscover that intensity, seeing as he hasn’t played much in the last six months.”

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