Antonio Conte urges Inter to ‘show on the pitch we’re the best’ against Sevilla in the Europa League Final, but it has already ‘been a positive season overall.’
It kicks off on Friday at 20.00 UK time (19.00 GMT) in Koln.
“It will be a tough game. We're playing the team with the most experience and who have won the most titles over the last decade of this competition,” Conte told UEFA.com.
“We have to be attentive, but also play our own game with great enthusiasm and courage, like we have done so far. It's a final and only the best teams get to the final. So we have to show on the pitch that we're the best if we want this trophy.
“We have to play with the desire to win and bring the trophy back to Italy – and to bring a trophy back to Inter. Sevilla will have the same idea, so we have to show that we're the better team.
“For me, it's always important to be able to say to the lads, at the end of the game, that we don't have any regrets. If we're the better side, we’ll lift the trophy. If not, we’ll have given our all, and we'll applaud our opponents.”
This is the first major European Final for Inter since Jose Mourinho won the Treble in 2010, while it is the first in Conte’s career. Does that mean his first season at San Siro has been a success?
“We still have to draw our final conclusions as there's still one more match, which for us is the most important game – it's a final, the chance to win a major trophy. I certainly think it's been a positive season overall. We've done important things and have made major improvements.
“We've managed to get to the UEFA Europa League final, despite the small disappointment of not getting through the Champions League group stage.
“We see the glass as half full, because [that disappointment] has allowed us to have a much more successful journey in the Europa League than we would have had in the Champions League. I think this team, with a lot of young, inexperienced players, needed that.”
Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez have formed a sensational partnership upfront and Conte credits their selflessness.
“I knew Lukaku very well because he's a player I'd followed for some time. I tried many times to sign him at my former clubs. I knew the characteristics he had.
“They're players who have the typical selfishness of a forward, but also the selflessness to play for the team and help others score.”
Diego Godin fully confessed that he struggled at first to understand what Conte wanted of him, so the coach gave a clearer explanation.
“He had to learn to defend while running forward, and to learn to defend with 50 yards of space behind him. He had the strength, professionalism and humility to make himself available and broaden his game in terms of playing style.
“So, credit to him. He put himself out there and took on the new challenge, and now he is seeing great results.”
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