Football

Inter coach Antonio Conte dismisses conspiracy theories

Inter Milan coach Antonio Conte brushed aside talk of teams playing for mutually beneficial results in the final round of Champions League group matches, fuming ‘this isn’t pub football’.

Inter, who are bottom of Group B, need to beat Skakhtar Donetsk at the San Siro but even that would not be enough should Borussia Moenchenglabach and Real Madrid draw their match in the Spanish capital, which would send both teams through.

The German side are top of the group on eight points with Shakhtar and Real Madrid both on seven and Inter on five.

“I hope the media don’t focus too much on rumours about playing for a mutually beneficial result,” Conte told a pre-match press conference.

“It’s depressing to hear about it. Every team only ever plays to win.

“I’m not worried about the rest; this is the Champions League and there are some great clubs involved. This isn’t pub football.”

Conte confirmed Chilean Arturo Vidal was out with a muscular problem, creating another problem in a midfield already without Radja Nainggolan and Nicolo Barella in doubt.

Vidal was sent off in a 2-0 defeat by Real Madrid and missed Inter’s 3-2 win at Moenchengladbach which kept the three-time winners’ hopes of reaching the last 16 alive.

But the 33-year-old midfielder limped off during Saturday’s 3-1 win over Bologna with a thigh injury.

“Vidal’s unavailable. Risking him could mean picking up a bigger injury and we can’t allow that,” said Conte.

“Arturo has experience and has played a lot of these types of matches, but we beat Gladbach without him.

“So we’ll play safe in the knowledge that we’re a good side by getting over these absences, uniting even more and trying to get through in spite of our problems.

“Managing to do that would be even more beautiful.” Conte added. “We must look at the reality, we must win against an excellent team like Shakhtar.

“But let’s not forget that before Borussia, we were dead, now we have seen a glimmer of light and we have to try.” – AFP

Football