Conte praises Inter for overcoming 'strange' atmosphere

Inter Milan recovered from a goal down to beat Ludogorets 2-1 in Thursday's behind-closed-doors clash, much to the delight of boss Antonio Conte.

Inter Milan boss Antonio Conte praised his side for its approach in Thursday's Europa League second-leg win over Ludogorets.   -  Getty Images

Antonio Conte praised Inter Milan for its approach to Thursday's Europa League second-leg win over Ludogorets in the round of 32 after being made to play the game behind closed doors. Goals from Cristiano Biraghi and Romelu Lukaku earned Inter a 2-1 victory at an empty San Siro after Cauly opened the scoring for Ludogorets, which trailed 2-0 from the first leg.

Fears over the coronavirus outbreak in Italy meant supporters were not allowed to attend the match and Inter head coach Conte admitted the tie had an eerie feel to it. "I've also played behind closed doors with Italy against Croatia," he told Sky Sport Italia.

"The atmosphere is strange and doesn't make things easy as it's like a training session. I have to say that my players took the right approach today, even if we fell behind. We made changes, giving other players some minutes, and now we move on."

Inter's home league clash with Sampdoria last weekend was postponed in wake of the virus spreading, while Sunday's blockbuster trip to Serie A leader Juventus will also be behind closed doors in Turin. Conte's Nerazzurri lost their last league match 2-1 to second-placed Lazio and trail Juve by six points with a game in hand to play.

READ | Inter 2-1 Ludogorets: Conte's men get job done at empty San Siro

Conte admitted the Derby d'Italia clash, as well as an the upcoming trip to Napoli, will go a long way to determining just how close his side are to seriously challenging for silverware. "We started this run of games and there is an important match coming up against Juventus," he said. 

"Once we reach the end of this period, we'll understand how distant we are from a winning level. I am convinced this will give us more clarity on where we are now, the length of the road ahead of us and the work that still needs to be done."

Inter started with a back three against Ludogorets but reverted to a flat-back four in the second half, with Christian Eriksen and Marcelo Brozovic linking up in central midfield.

"We need to work on the ideas and have had time in training," Conte said. "The postponement of the game with Sampdoria last week gave us time to test out something new, which can be used either at the start of a match or during the 90 minutes.

"When you have two strikers, it's inevitably harder work for the midfielders. For those who play with one centre-forward, two wingers or a trequartista, there are more players ready to help cover defensively. We always need to find the right balance depending on the characteristics of the opponents we are up against."

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