Antonio Conte challenged his Inter players to learn from last week’s defeat against Real Madrid as they prepare for Tuesday’s must-win clash with Borussia Monchengladbach.
Inter have failed to win any of their opening four Champions League games for the first time ever and only a victory will do in Germany if they are to avoid early elimination.
The three-time European champions lost 2-0 at home to Madrid in their last Group B outing – Rodrygo’s deflected strike off Achraf Hakimi adding to Eden Hazard’s early penalty.
Conte acknowledged Inter made life difficult for themselves against Madrid in a match that saw Arturo Vidal dismissed for dissent, and the Inter boss is now after a response if his side are to keep their slim qualification hopes alive.
“There have been many negative comments expressed after our match with Real,” Conte said at Monday’s pre-match media conference.
“I’ve heard about how our opponents dominated us, but it has been forgotten that we gave away a penalty right at the start and lost a player after half an hour.
“I challenge anyone to recover quickly in matches like that. We created those negative situations and have to work on that to avoid making things tough for ourselves
“Tomorrow we take on a very good team that is doing well in the Champions League. We need to produce our best and leave the pitch with no regrets.”
Inter are bottom of Group B, five points adrift of second-place Madrid and a further point behind a Gladbach side unbeaten in four games against the Nerazzurri.
Conte is under pressure at San Siro following a run of three wins in 11 games in all competitions and accepted anything less than a place in the last 16 will be a failure.
“We started this journey in control of our own destiny and today that is no longer the case,” he said. “If we can no longer qualify, that means we have failed in some situations.
“The only way we can stay alive is to win, even if that won’t be easy to achieve. Gladbach have shown their strength and this is now a further test for us.”
Conte’s 20 per cent win rate is the lowest of any Inter coach to have managed at least five games in the Champions League.
The former Juventus and Chelsea boss tweaked formation for Saturday’s 3-0 league win over Sassuolo, with no recognised playmaker selected, and could stick with the same setup against Gladbach.
“I keep saying that after a very short time together we find ourselves having to play competitive matches with newcomers like Hakimi, [Aleksandar] Kolarov and Vidal.
“We have found ourselves having to throw these players into the fray with all the risks involved. But by playing together you start to learn about the characteristics of players.
“We have done well with some players, others less so.”
Hakimi was withdrawn a little over an hour into the game with Madrid and was benched for the win over Sassuolo.
The wing-back has two assists and a goal in Serie A since joining from Real Madrid, but only Lautaro Martinez (106) and Nicola Barella (108) have lost possession more often than Hakimi (85) among Inter players.
“Go back and see what I said about him at the start of the season,” Conte said. “He has to work a lot more in the defensive phase.
“He has great potential but in Italy there is much more pressure than in England and Germany, especially when you play for Inter.”