Conte: Lukaku and Lautaro need to improve to be compared to the greats


The Nerazzurri duo are in excellent shape this season, but the coach says he needs to do even more to be compared to the best

Antonio Conte says Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez can still improve as Inter prepare to face Shakhtar Donetsk once again.

The Nerazzurri relieved Shakhtar in the previous match, winning 5-0 in the Europa League semi-final in August.

Lukaku and Martinez scored twice each in that emphatic victory in Dusseldorf, becoming the first pair of Inter forwards to score at least 20 goals each in a single season since Adriano and Obafemi Martins in 2004-05.

Lukaku, whose 34 goals in all competitions were the best score for a player in his first season at the club since Ronaldo 22 years ago, has already scored seven goals in six appearances in 2020-21.

But Inter boss Conte expects both players to improve as he seeks to re-establish the club as a major force in the Champions League.

“They have made huge improvements and can become even more important for the team,” Conte said on Monday ahead of Inter’s Group B match with Shakhtar.

“To compare them with others [great strikers] at the European level we must win, it is the only way to carve out an important place in Europe “.

Conte also warned against all sorts of complacency against a Shakhtar side who stunned Real Madrid with a 3-2 draw in Spain on Matchday 1.

“The two situations [last season’s semi-final and this match] they cannot be compared – he said -. In August we were perfect both in defense and in attack. We will need another careful performance.

“They are very strong, most of them are Brazilians, very fast and skilled. It is no coincidence that they won in Madrid, so we will need a lot of attention. We want to have a good match.”

Shakhtar boss Luis Castro is also hoping that the previous match, in which Inter scored four goals in 19 minutes in the second half, will not be repeated.

“It showed what I already knew about football: anything can happen so suddenly,” he said. “At half-time we were only one goal down, but after the second goal the game was getting out of hand.

“However, tomorrow isn’t decided yet. I’m learning all the time, and my biggest lesson from that game is that you have to keep going no matter what’s going on around you.”


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