Inter boss Antonio Conte has vowed his side will play at the Camp Nou with ‘courage and hunger’ and will not just look to defend.
The Nerazzurri travel to Barcelona in a crunch Champions League clash on Wednesday night with both sides aiming to secure their first victory of a finely-balanced group.
“Our group is certainly an interesting and difficult one, as we realised full well with the draw against Slavia Prague,” said Conte in his Press conference, as cited by our sister site Football Italia.
Borussia Dortmund complete the very tough Group F and held Barcelona to a 0-0 draw in Germany, so they all have one point going into the second game.
“It is inevitable that if you have ambition and want to go far, you must try to get points in every arena. It’s not easy to play against Barcelona, one of the top teams in the world and candidates for the final trophy, but we are here to play our game with all due respect.”
Lionel Messi is a major injury doubt, as is Ousmane Dembele, so would the game change without them?
“Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are the top players in the world and naturally they can change the balance of any game. On the one hand, we want to face Barcelona with all their stars, especially as Messi is a unique champion, but on the other we must be ready to face Barcelona whatever happens.
“We need to play with an intense tempo, keeping the tempo high both on and off the ball. Barcelona can score at any moment, but we must understand this is part of the growth process and we want to show we’re on the right track. It is only the start of this journey for us and we hope to compete at this level very soon.”
Romelu Lukaku is out injured with a muscular problem and could therefore be in doubt for Sunday’s Scudetto showdown with Juventus.
“It’s going to be an intense week, but as I always say, the game of a lifetime is the next one coming up, so that means Barcelona. We don’t need motivation to face Barcelona, just the name does that. We’ll be concentrated on this, don’t worry.
“It is strange to be facing both Messi and Ronaldo in the space of four days, as we are up against two of the best teams in the world and the two best players in the world.
“This must be intriguing for us, because we are taking these steps up and are at the start of the journey. It should be a joy for us to face the best.
“I prefer the performance to the result, to play at Camp Nou with courage and hunger. I don’t want to get a good result after we’ve been dominated for 90 minutes. I don’t want to come here with a helmet and shield to defend the goal. We are trying to grow in terms of mentality and professionalism.
“Preparing a game for a draw or to just do damage limitation would go against what I want from my lads. We must have faith in ourselves, look the situation in the eye and not like a boxer who is trying not to get punched. We’ve got to go out there and play.”
With Lukaku out injured, Conte was asked if it was wise to start Alexis Sanchez after he made his full debut with a goal and red card, with second yellow for diving.
“Some things were said about Sanchez that I didn’t appreciate. He is a good lad and you can see from the incident that he immediately gets up to keep going, he didn’t protest or ask for a penalty. He is getting into our ideas of football and you’ll see the choices I make tomorrow, but Sanchez can give us a lot in terms of experience.”