Inter’s ‘orchestra’ search for right key as Serie A title approaches


Milan (AFP) – Antonio Conte compared his jittery Inter Milan team to an orchestra as they approach a first Serie A title in over a decade having endured back-to-back draws before travelling to Hellas Verona this weekend.

Inter were held against Napoli and Spezia but maintain a 10-point avantage as nearest rivals AC Milan lost last time out and next travel to Lazio. 

“It’s inevitable to feel a bit of pressure,” said Conte, “especially as lots of our players are challenging for something important for the first time.” 

Inter won their 18th and last Serie A crown in 2010, the year they also won the Champions League under Jose Mourinho.

They come up against a Hellas Verona who are stuck midtake with just one win in their last seven games.

“We must live with the pressure, but we’re an orchestra that knows what to play,” said Conte.

Second-placed Milan have a difficult run to the finish line with games against Lazio, Juventus and Atalanta as they target a return to the Champions League.

Just three points separate Milan from Napoli in fifth, with sixth-placed Lazio also in the running with their postponed game against Torino still to be played.

The Roman side also play Milan next Monday where a win would put them back in the running.

Milan are hoping to recover injured star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic for the trip to Rome days after the 39-year-old Swede commited to the team for next season.

“There’s no fear, it’s a privilege to be in this position for what we’re fighting,” said coach Stefano Pioli of their hopes to end a six-year wait for elite European competition.

“Our path will be very difficult but we have not been distracted by things not in our control.”

Champions Juventus travel to Fiorentina, the team that inflicted their first defeat of the season back in December.

Andrea Pirlo’s side bounced back from their fifth defeat of this campaign against Atalanta with a win at home against Parma.

Cristiano Ronaldo has failed to score in his last two games as he pushes for the Serie A top scorer for the first time in Italy as he leads the way with 25 goals.

Atalanta host 11th-placed Bologna with the chance to move second as Napoli travel to relegation-threatened Torino.

At the bottom of the table, relegation-rivals Parma and Crotone go head-to-head with Cagliari at home to AS Roma.

Key stats

25 – Cristiano Ronaldo’s goals this campaign

10 – Points between leaders Inter and second-placed AC Milan

9 – Champions Juve’s points off top spot

3 – Points between second-placed Milan and Napoli in fifth

Fixtures (all GMT)

Saturday

Genoa v Spezia (1300), Parma v Crotone (1600), Sassuolo v Sampdoria (1845)

Sunday

Benevento v Udinese (1030), Fiorentina v Juventus, Inter Milan v Hellas Verona (both 1300), Cagliari v AS Roma (1600), Atalanta v Bologna (1845)

Monday

Torino v Napoli (1630), Lazio v AC Milan (1845)

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