Antonio Conte insists Inter Milan are still playing catch-up with Derby d’Italia rivals Juventus.
The Nerazzurri have an opportunity to pull five points clear of the reigning Serie A champions when they host them at San Siro on Sunday night, having won all six of their league games under Conte.
Before leaving Turin to take charge of the Italian national team and then Chelsea, Conte kick-started Juve’s run of eight straight titles, delivering the first three.
During that period, Inter were among the clubs to flounder and despite their present prominence Conte believes Juve remain the shining light in Italy and favourites for further Scudetto glory this season.
He told a press conference: “Juve are a team who are used to winning, who have players used to winning. They add more and more players like that every year.
“They’ve hammered the league for eight years, fair play to them, while other clubs have gone the other way. So a gap has been created in Italy that will be difficult to fill, but we’ve started on our journey towards getting close to them once again.
“But they have a ready-made team, they have everything in place. We’re just trying to go down that path. We’re working day and night to get our car up to 200 miles per hour.”
Alexis Sanchez is banned after his dismissal against Sampdoria last weekend, but Conte has no injury concerns. Danilo D’Ambrosio should get the nod to start on the right wing ahead of Antonio Candreva.
Champions Juve go into the game in the unfamiliar position of second in the table, but that matters little to head coach Maurizio Sarri, who also quelled talk of a personal feud with Conte.
“To look at the league would be a big mistake,” said the other former Chelsea boss involved in this match. “We must instead focus on confirming that we have made progress. We need to focus on the game.
Sarri added on juventus.com: “Inter are a complete team, who are very dangerous and very good on the break.
“It’s not a match between Sarri and Conte, tomorrow will be a great match between Inter and Juventus.
“It’s important that we leave San Siro having put in a great performance. We need to show our quality.”
Forwards Gonzalo Higuain and Paulo Dybala are vying for a starting spot alongside Cristiano Ronaldo while defenders Giorgio Chiellini, Mattia De Sciglio and Danilo are missing through injury.
Get the best features, fun and footballing frolics straight to your inbox every week.
Thank you for signing up to Four Four Two. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.