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Antonio Conte: “It was an uphill battle from the get-go”

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FC Internazionale v Real Madrid: Group B - UEFA Champions League Photo by Claudio Villa - Inter/Inter via Getty Images

Antonio Conte spoke to the press after his side lost to Real Madrid at the San Siro on Wednesday night, and made it a point several times to highlight how difficult of an opponent Real Madrid are.

“It’s already difficult enough playing sides like Real Madrid, and we haven’t had a lot of luck during the two matches,” Conte said after the game. “If you immediately concede and then go down to ten men, it only becomes more complicated. Unfortunately, I think we saw the difference between them and us. However, it shouldn’t knock us down, and we need to respond with humility as we look to go down our path. The teams are at different levels and we need to grow in every respect. They’ve won the Champions League on several occasions, while we’re emerging on this stage again. We mustn’t let ourselves be swayed by outside voices. We need to work to bridge the gap and return to be being protagonists.”

Conte also said that it was tough to recover from Arturo Vidal’s red card.

“It was an uphill battle from the get-go: we went behind and it was then difficult to get back into it, also because Vidal was sent off, something which knocked the wind out of us,” Conte said. “Despite everything, the lads worked hard against a great side. This is the situation, but we certainly did better in the first match against them, when we were more aggressive.”