Milan: Antonio Conte branded himself a ‘jackass’ for his tactical blunders which saw Inter Milan struggle to a draw in their European opener this week, but warned they would kick back into gear on Saturday against city rivals AC Milan.
Conte’s side rescued a 1-1 draw against Czech outsiders Slavia Prague in the Champions League in the San Siro, and the former Chelsea manager said they should use that anger in their upcoming games against AC Milan and Lazio.
“I’m the biggest jackass,” said Conte.
“I’m the one who’s primarily responsible, both in terms of the selections made and because I obviously didn’t make the lads understand what I wanted.”
The former Juventus and Italy coach conceded his side could have been focusing too much on Saturday’s game, as they look to stay top of Serie A.
“Could be, but this is part of the growing process. I am here to make them better players.”
The Derby della Madonnina is always a fiery affair and Inter are unbeaten in their last six league games against arch rivals AC Milan.
Inter have maximum points after three games and are two points ahead of Bologna and champions Juventus, with Napoli three points adrift in fourth.
AC Milan’s focus this season is on Serie A after they lost their place in the Europa League for breaches in financial fair play rules.
New coach Marco Giampaolo’s side are seventh with two wins after their opening round defeat at Udinese.
On Saturday, the two best defences in Serie A will face off in the San Siro, with both having only conceded one goal in the league this season.
Juventus host Verona after throwing away a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 at Atletico Madrid in their Champions League opener. It was the second consecutive stalemate for Maurizio Sarri’s side who also dropped points last weekend in Fiorentina.
“We need to improve in our aggressiveness and attention,” said Sarri.
Carlo Ancelotti’s Napoli travel south to promoted Lecce after punishing European holders Liverpool 2-0 in the San Paolo Stadium.
It was a second match without conceding a goal after letting seven past in their first two games.
“We’ve been boosted by the improved fitness level of a number of players. We’ve improved defensively in a short space of time,” said Ancelotti.
But Ancelotti’s side need to be wary of Lecce who shocked Torino 2-1 last Monday.
Atalanta host Fiorentina after their Champions League baptism ended in a bruising 4-0 defeat at Dinamo Zagreb.
Bologna, flying high in second despite the absence of their coach Sinisa Mihajlovic who is undergoing cancer treatment, face a tough visit from Roma, who earned their first win of the season last weekend.
One to watch
In-form Napoli forward Dries Mertens will be looking to find the net for the fourth game this season as he closes in on club legend Diego Maradona’s mark of 115 goals for the southerners. The 32-year-old Belgian international has scored three goals in two Serie A games and converted a penalty in the 2-0 win over Liverpool this week, to bring his tally to 113. Marek Hamsik leads both with 121.