‘This isn’t pub football,’ fumes Conte ahead of must-win Shakhtar clash

Inter Milan coach Antonio Conte confirmed Chilean Arturo Vidal was out with a muscular problem, creating problems in a midfield already without Radja Nainggolan and Nicolo Barella in doubt. — Reuters pic
Inter Milan coach Antonio Conte confirmed Chilean Arturo Vidal was out with a muscular problem, creating problems in a midfield already without Radja Nainggolan and Nicolo Barella in doubt. — Reuters pic

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MILAN, Dec 9 — Inter Milan coach Antonio Conte brushed aside talk of teams playing for mutually beneficial results in today’s final round of Champions League group matches, fuming ‘this isn’t pub football’.

No team in Inter’s Group B have qualified so far, will all four sides having a chance to do so on the final day.

Bottom of the group, Inter need to beat Skakhtar Donetsk at the San Siro and for Borussia Moenchenglabach and Real Madrid not to draw their match.

The Germans 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 problems in a midfield already without Radja Nainggolan and Nicolo Barella in doubt.

Vidal missed Inter’s 3-2 win at ‘Gladbach which kept the former three-time winners’ hopes of reaching the last-16 alive after being sent off in a 2-0 defeat to Real Madrid.

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

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