Antonio Conte explains Inter are trying to vary their options after a 3-1 win over Bologna, while Achraf Hakimi ‘is at the right club and with the right coach to become one of the best in the world.’
The Nerazzurri swept Bologna aside 3-1 at San Siro with a Romelu Lukaku strike and brace from wing-back Hakimi, consolidating second place in Serie A.
“The Bologna goal for 2-1 was unexpected and we certainly have to do better, because in other situations we left games open that we had been dominating,” Conte told DAZN.
“Let’s not forget we had a horrible experience with Bologna in July, when we missed a penalty and managed to lose 2-1 against a side down to 10 men. With that in mind, we were more determined and focused this evening.
“The lads are beginning to learn, if we don’t keep maximum concentration, we run risks and concede avoidable goals.”
Conte was asked about the different strategies employed by Inter’s 3-5-2 formation this season.
“Unlike other countries, in Italy we play a very tactical football. We therefore alternate periods of high press with waiting and then being aggressive on the ball.
“We are working well, trying to find a balance, because we used to press high constantly and it did provide some rewards, as we finished second and reached the Europa League Final.
“However, the opponents study you in Italy, they learn and adapt, so we had to try to find more of a balance and be less predictable. We’re working on being more compact, not getting stretched out, and we’ve got to keep going.
“Everything we did before remains valuable and we can call upon it when required. I consider having all these options to be very important.”
Conte had complained last week that Hakimi needed to defend better, but assured that was all part of the process.
“This lad is 20 years old and had just two seasons at Dortmund, where they play a much less tactical style of football. Haki is working hard, he has realised the difference between playing in Italy and Germany, where the opponents don’t study you as much, where they don’t identify your characteristics as precisely.
“I think he is in the right team and with the right coach to become one of the best in the world in his role. It will require a lot of work, but I’m very happy, because this type of performance will boost his confidence, whereas errors in the past might’ve dented his self-belief. He needs a balance, it’s going to be a process and I am glad he got this personal satisfaction of a brace.”
Lukaku was on target yet again and has become the real leader of the Inter squad, once more proving Conte was right to fight so hard for his signature.
“I believe he can still get stronger. I described him as a rough diamond when he arrived and felt that work would help him become one of the best strikers in the world. He is on the right track, as he has everything, the physicality of a centre-forward, but also the pace and power of an American Football quarter-back.
“He is doing well, has understood what needs to be done, is humble and works for the team. I am very happy with him.
“Alexis Sanchez is also doing well, but needs to be more decisive and score a few more goals. Let’s not forget he was practically inactive for two years at Manchester United, but he allows me to rest Lukaku and Lautaro, as well as being decisive off the bench.”
There is one blot on the Inter landscape represented by Christian Eriksen, who once again was only introduced in stoppages and didn’t even get to touch the ball.
At the final whistle, he walked straight down the tunnel to the locker room.
“My rapport with Christian is the same as all the other players. I will never tire of explaining that what I do and the choices I make are for the good of Inter. The last thing I do is look at the face of the player, it’s about everything else.
“Eriksen is working and he is at our disposal.”