Antonio Conte says the time has come for Inter to “shut up and pedal” as they approach the Scudetto winning line.
The Nerazzurri head coach has seen his team carry an 11-point cushion over second-placed Milan into the 30th round of Serie A games, and momentum is firmly in their favour.
On Sunday, Inter will have home advantage against Cagliari, and Conte is keen to ensure his side do not see this as a time to slow down and check what others are doing, suggesting that is a recipe for failure.
He described joining Inter as “the most difficult decision” on Saturday and said he has “a lot to lose”, but the former Juventus boss is closing in on unseating his former club as champions of Italy after nine dominant years.
Appointed in May 2019, Conte has sculpted a team that stand on the brink of a major achievement.
But he said in a pre-game news conference: “The Scudetto? I look at the present as ever, trying to do something exceptional and extraordinary in Italy since only one team has been a protagonist in the last nine years.
“We have given back credibility to Inter both in Italy and in Europe. Now we have to take the last step, which is the most important, but we haven’t done anything yet.
“We know the disappointments we could face. We have not won anything, we are working.
“We have to shut up and pedal. We don’t make proclamations; I’m not used to making them. The season is not over, we must avoid slip-ups that could favour the chasing teams.”
Just a quick reminder that Antonio Conte’s Inter have won every single league game since the start of the second half of the season.
Every single game.
— Inter (@Inter_en) April 9, 2021
Inter have been increasingly formidable this season, and they should have the wherewithal to see off relegation-threatened Cagliari.
Cagliari have dropped 19 points from winning positions this season, with only Parma (21 points) and Torino (25) more vulnerable when ahead in games. Inter have dropped just six points, the third-best record in the league (behind Atalanta’s four and Milan’s two).
From the opposite perspective, Inter came into the weekend having picked up a league-high 14 points from losing positions.
The leaders are on a run of 11 successive home wins in the league, while they have only failed to score in one of their past 37 Serie A meetings against Cagliari – a 2-0 away defeat in April 2013.
Cagliari’s most recent Serie A clean sheet away at Inter came all the way back in March 1992, and the Nerazzurri have netted 47 goals in the 22 league matches played in Milan between the teams since (2.1 goals per game on average).