Finish with no regrets, says Conte as Inter go for Europa glory
Antonio Conte has urged his Inter Milan team, featuring a series of former Premier League stars, to leave the field with “no regrets” at the end of tonight’s Europa League final against Sevilla.
The former Chelsea manager is looking to end his first season at Inter with his first trophy since departing England, as are the likes of Ashley Young, Christian Eriksen, Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez. Victory in Cologne would provide Inter with their first trophy in nine years and would vindicate the decisions of the former Premier League players to leave England in search of a new challenge.
Inter have been able to compete for the Europa League only because of their elimination from the Champions League group stages earlier this season, and Conte said his team needed that disappointment in order to develop.
“It has been a positive season,” he said. “We have made major improvements. We have managed to get to the Europa League final, despite the small disappointment of not getting through the Champions League group stage.
“It has allowed us to have a much more successful journey in the Europa League than we would have had in the Champions League. This team – with a lot of young, inexperienced players – needed that.
“We have to be attentive but also play our own game with great enthusiasm and courage, like we have done so far. It’s a final and only the best teams get to the final. It’s always important to be able to say to the lads, at the end of the game, that we don’t have any regrets.”
Conte will be hoping to extend the trophyless run of Sevilla manager Julen Lopetegui, the former
Real Madrid and Spain head coach who is yet to win a senior title as a manager. Sevilla, who defeated Manchester United in Sunday’s semi-final, are the most successful team in the tournament’s history, having lifted the trophy five times.
But Lopetegui has said their record of success will not provide them with an advantage, even though they have never lost a one-off knockout match in the Uefa Cup or Europa League. “This is a completely new and different team, with different players and a different manager,” he said. “It helps that the club have reached this stage before, but I don’t think it’s an advantage. Inter are a team equipped to compete in the Champions League, given the calibre of players they have, and their very experienced manager.”
Sanchez is an injury doubt for the final, as is Sevilla winger Lucas Ocampos.
Thriving: Romelu Lukaku is one of several ex-Premier League players in Inter side