Conte: ‘Lazio a big test for Inter’

Antonio Conte warns Arturo Vidal could miss both Lazio and Milan games, but assures ‘only an idiot can’t see the progress’ Inter have made under the coach.

It kicks off on Sunday at 19.45 GMT, click here for a match preview.

“Lazio are a club who are consolidated at a certain level in Italian football, with a precise structure and quality players,” said Conte.

“It’s a team coming off a long run of victories. It is an intriguing test, a difficult one, so we need to be well-prepared.”

The rest of his press conference, discussing the row with Juventus President Andrea Agnelli, is here.

“Vidal will not be available, as he is continuing to have injury problems, and I am not sure yet if he’ll be ready for the next game with Milan either. Arturo needs time to fully recover, because he’s been dealing with various niggles for a while and is not training with the team.”

The coach was also unimpressed with the praise being heaped upon midfielder Nicolò Barella.

“He has to keep working and remember in this business people are seen as all positive or all negative, depending on the moment. He must remember that his fortunes depend on those of the whole team. He’s improving, can do much better, but individual growth has to come with team improvements.”

Inter are the top Serie A scorers this season, yet have also wasted numerous scoring opportunities, particularly in the big games.

“The positive aspect is that we create plenty of chances, but converting the opportunities will allow us to avoid the disappointment of not getting the result we deserve. If you don’t convert your chances, you get eliminated from the Champions League and Coppa Italia.

“I do believe under my tenure that Inter regained credibility. We’re not yet where we want to be, but are working hard and only an idiot can’t see the progress we’ve made.

“Our opponents realise the leaps and bounds we’ve made, so they respect us now. Having said that, we also know the extent of that gap cannot be bridged in just a year-and-a-half. We’re not there yet.”

When it comes to the midfield, Conte could not resist another jab at the club for not investing this season.

“We are trying to resolve our problems in-house, because since August there is no other option.

“We’re working with Marcelo Brozovic and not just him on finding the right position and not getting irritated if he’s man-marked. It’s about running efficiently to avoid fatigue.”