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Conte: ‘Calendar is damaging Inter’

Antonio Conte has said that the VAR situation was ‘not dubious, but very clear,’ although the Inter coach reserved most of his rage for the fixture list after a 2-2 draw with Roma.

A point might not be enough for their Scudetto ambitions, but it does mathematically qualify Inter for the Champions League.

Stefan de Vrij’s header on a corner had put the Nerazzurri in front, only for Leonardo Spinazzola and Henrikh Mkhitaryan to turn it around, but Spinazzola’s moment of madness then gifted Romelu Lukaku the equalising penalty for 2-2.

“We are talking about a team that in my view is doing some very good things. Aside from second place, if you look at the goals scored and conceded, we are in the Champions League with four rounds to spare and 14 points clear of fifth place,” Conte told Sky Sport Italia.

“Let’s not forget Inter started with the same objectives for the season as Roma and Napoli. Serie A has become very competitive indeed and everyone is set up to have great campaigns. Only four go into the Champions League.

“If people say Inter are below par, then what do you say about the other teams who didn’t finish in the top four?”

Conte then went on an impassioned rant about the fixture list, claiming that rather than be favoured by playing late and therefore not in the searing heat, this was a disadvantage.

“We need to get accustomed to dealing with the pressure of these big games and that is something Inter lost over the last few years. We have to work at it, improve the mentality, but I can have no complaints today.

“It was a positive performance against a Roma side in great shape. I want people to look at the fixture list for FC Internazionale, because our calendar is insane and made to cause us problems. We are always playing late at night, the teams we face always have an extra day of rest compared to us. These are facts.

“It’s an anomaly, so if you are honest, look at what happened in the last round. Evidently Inter weren’t present when the fixture list was drawn up, because our calendar is crazy, whereas some teams get five days of rest. We play late at night in an away fixture and basically end up getting home at 4 am.

“Everyone has to make compromises, but it’s always Inter that ends up getting the short straw. Always. It’s funny, that. If someone has to get a slap, it’s always Inter.

“Having said that, I do not want to create controversy or seek excuses. Our lads are playing every three days, play late at night and get home at 4 am, they secure second place and close to within five points of Juventus…”

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There was also controversy on the equaliser, because Aleksandar Kolarov challenged Lautaro Martinez from behind to start the move, but the referee stood by his decision that it wasn’t a foul after the on-field review.

“It’s not a dubious situation. It was a very clear situation. The Roma player does not get the ball, he gets Lautaro’s ankle. I have the utmost respect for referees, they too are going through a strange and anomalous situation, so I don’t think they deserve that kind of criticism. They too can make mistakes, the referee tonight made a mistake, it happens.

“Of course, if you go into the break at 1-1 with the knowledge it was an unjust situation, it is going to make you angry.”

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