Prague (AFP) – Antonio Conte said on Tuesday that Inter Milan faced a tough task in Wednesday’s Champions League clash at Slavia Prague if they are to get the win they need to keep their hopes alive.
When the two teams met at the San Siro in the opening round of group games Inter needed a goal two minutes into stoppage time to salvage a 1-1 draw.
“We are a better team than when we played the first game against Slavia,” Conte said. “The team has been growing continually, we are far more compact and better prepared.”
“We will play our game, but we know it will be a tough match and we will definitely suffer just as Barcelona and Borussia did here.”
Inter need a win to retain hopes of qualifying for the knock-out stages. They have just four points from four games and sit third in the group, three behind Dortmund and four adrift of leaders Barcelona.
“We are playing for a big chance,” said Conte. “I know the odds are not fantastic really, but we’ll try to win.”
“I hope we can keep going in Europe because we need this type of game to keep improving.”
“We have started a path,” Conte said. “We are at the dawn. The team is ‘newborn’ but at the same time it is essential to continue in this competition to gain experience.”
Conte already has Inter in contention in Italy. They won 3-0 at Torino on Saturday to stay a point behind Serie A leaders Juventus.
But they lost midfielder Nicolo Barella, their scorer in the first meeting, who limped off and is due to undergo a surgery on his right knee.
Alexis Sanchez will miss Wednesday’s clash with an ankle injury while Matteo Politano is out with a twisted ankle.
Conte said Inter would also be without Stefano Sensi, Kwadwo Asamoah and Roberto Gagliardini but added it “makes to weep before the game over the absence of this or that player.”
– ‘Well prepared’ –
Last-place Slavia have two points from draws at Inter and Barcelona, but they have given all their rivals a hard time.
“They are physical, they run a lot, we could see that in the first game which was really hard,” said Inter defender Stefan de Vrij.
“But I think we have improved a lot and we are very well prepared for tomorrow’s game,” added the Dutch centre back.
Slavia need a win to stay in contention for at least a Europa League spot.
“If we want to play in the spring, we know we have to win tomorrow,” said Trpisovsky.
“That’s the only thing that matters to me, we haven’t got a single point from our home games and we simply want to win.”
“I believe we will convert the chances we will create, that’s what matters the most,” added the coach whose players have only scored twice in their four Champions League games so far.
Slavia were held to a goalless draw at Olomouc in the Czech top flight on Saturday but they retained their 11-point lead over Viktoria Pilsen.
Against Inter, they will be without centre back David Hovorka, sidelined with a torn knee ligament. Midfielder Lukas Masopust is uncertain with a minor injury.
In the last round of games in December, Inter face Barcelona at the San Siro while Slavia travel to Dortmund.
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