Conte relieved to have ‘stress-free’ Serie A finish after securing top tour

Antonio Conte is delighted Inter have achieved their objective of a “stress-free” end to the Serie A season, having sealed a top-four finish.

The Nerazzurri drew 2-2 with Roma on Sunday, leaving them second in the table with four games remaining, though they are eight points behind leaders Juventus.

Juve, Inter and Atalanta are all guaranteed to finish in the top four, while Lazio need just two more points to be certain.

There remains a slight doubt over Champions League places for next season: fourth place would not be enough to qualify if Napoli and Roma, who sit outside the top four, win this season’s Champions League and Europa League, as UEFA rules mean no more than five teams from one nation can compete in the competition in one season.

It means Inter cannot yet be absolutely certain of their place in the tournament in 2020-21, although coach Conte is already feeling a little more at ease knowing fourth is the lowest position they can finish.

“I think it’s important for a side and a club like Inter [to be in the Champions League],” he told reporters ahead of Wednesday’s clash with Fiorentina. “Since the start of the season, we have been in the top four in the table.

“I think this is where a club with the prestige of Inter has to be. We have achieved that and with four games to play.

“I think one of the demands of the club was to try to improve on last season. We wanted to try to be more consistent.

“The aim was to have a more stress-free finish compared to recent years. I think we have achieved that objective.

“Without a doubt, Serie A has become a more competitive league: one need only look at the numbers the other teams are putting up. It’ll keep getting tougher, and the level of competition has really stepped up.

“We’ve got to keep trying to improve, as the club are looking to qualify for the Champions League every year, but we’re also looking to be more involved in the title race, so we can eventually get our hands on the Scudetto.”

Fiorentina have endured a far more difficult season and only became mathematically safe from relegation with their 2-0 win over Torino last Sunday.

“I think it was almost incredible to see Fiorentina in that position in the table,” Conte said. “They have a squad full of excellent players. Fiorentina are a very good side.

“Their coach Beppe Iachini is doing a good job. They will have the pressure off, but when you face clubs like Inter, you find the motivation from within to give your all.

“They will be stress-free, but we have also achieved our goal of qualifying for the Champions League. I will also make my evaluations as we have played a lot of games lately. I’ve seen there are players who need to recover and rest up. I’ll therefore make changes in light of our situation in the league.”

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