Conte's back-to-basics style paying off at Inter ahead of Barca trip
Milan: Antonio Conte has returned to Italian football in style with Inter Milan flying high under his back-to-basics guidance, ahead of a Champions League trip to Barcelona that will test the Serie A leaders' continental credentials.
Conte's side stretched their perfect league start to six wins from six for the first time in 53 years at the weekend with a 3-1 win at Sampdoria that came despite having to play most of the second half a man down.
They are two points ahead of fierce rivals Juventus as they await a top-of-the-table clash at the San Siro on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Inter head for Catalonia on Wednesday off the back of a shaky start in Group F, a 1-1 draw against Slavia Prague salvaged late after a below-par performance that contrasted sharply with their domestic form.
Conte — reportedly the highest-paid coach in Italy with a salary of 10 million euros (USD 10.8m) a year — believes his side are flourishing because he simplifies the game.
"I am a coach who always gives a precise idea of football to his team. I seem to set the trend in tactics," said the former Chelsea and Juventus coach.
"My football has always been organised, we have an idea and work hard on a range of scenarios.
"All our performances this season have shown quality and organisation, but mentality makes the difference in getting out of tricky situations."
Helenio Herrera was the last man to lead Inter to win six straight matches from the start of a league season back in 1966-1967, the three-time Serie A winner having also established them as a continental force with European Cup wins in 1964 and 1965.
Conte is bidding to claim the club's first league title since 2010, the year they won an historic treble under rival coach Jose Mourinho.
"We must now press the reset button, focus on Barcelona at Camp Nou," insisted Conte, whose last trip to Barcelona with Chelsea ended in a 3-0 defeat in March 2018.
"We're getting into the right frame of mind, but we sill have to grow a lot. We're newborns in this project."