No more second chances - Conte wants Inter to thrive under Champions League pressure

By Sports Desk December 09, 2019

Antonio Conte has stressed there will be no second chances for Inter when they take on Barcelona in a crucial Champions League clash on Tuesday.

Inter welcome Barca to San Siro sitting second in Group F, level on seven points with Borussia Dortmund, who face Slavia Prague.

The Nerazzurri - who hold a two-point lead over Juventus at the top of Serie A - must at least match Dortmund's result to ensure their place in the knockout stages.

While Conte is not thinking too far ahead in regard to how far his team can go in the competition, he emphasised Inter must grasp their final opportunity to progress.

"This is a very important game for me and the club. Our qualification hopes are on the line. It is a very big moment in our season," Conte told a news conference.

"When the draw was made, this was labelled the group of death. There are some great teams in Group F, the fact we are still in the running is very impressive. We should be very proud of how we've done.

"This would be a great achievement should we qualify. There are injuries at the moment, it has been an ongoing situation. The positive aspect is everyone is responding well. Everyone in the team is taking responsibility.

"We have injuries but everyone is stepping up, there are three games before the winter break, there is the right enthusiasm in the squad, we are on the right track, we simply need to keep this up and give that little bit extra and dig deep.

"There will be no second chances, so we must do our job and get the result. In the tough times we need to give our all. 

"There will be pressure on us, but this team is growing and needs this experience. We cannot look too far ahead."

Barca have already secured first place in the group and, with their rearranged Clasico against Real Madrid coming up, Ernesto Valverde has left both Lionel Messi and Gerard Pique out of his 20-man squad, though Conte does not think that will make Inter's task any easier.

"Barca are an amazing side whoever plays. Barca are one of the best teams in the world, they aim to win every competition," Conte said. "They have qualified but will come here to play their game.

"They have no pressure which could work in their favour, but we need to focus on ourselves, play our game. I will tell the lads I want us to give our all. I do not want us to have any regrets."

Luis Suarez scored both of Barca's goals in the reverse fixture as they claimed a 2-1 win at Camp Nou in October, with Lautaro Martinez having put Inter ahead early on.

Martinez has been in superb form this season, scoring 13 goals in all competitions, and is reportedly being considered by Barca as a possible replacement for Suarez should the former Liverpool star leave the club.

Suarez's Uruguay team-mate Diego Godin, however, is hopeful Martinez's immediate future is with Inter.

"I know Suarez very well, he is one of the best," Godin said. "I have been playing with Lautaro from this season, he is developing all of the time, he is in good form at the moment, playing very well.

"At the moment he is at Inter, he has many good years ahead of him, he has the skills to go far, there is no limit, I feel. We all hope he can keep doing well, I hope he can help this team. He is a player with a key role."

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