Antonio Conte knows from his experiences as a player that derby games present unique challenges and he has been speaking about them as Tottenham prepare to make the trip across London.
Our boss’s distinguished career on the pitch took him from Lecce in the south of Italy to Juventus in the north. At the Turin-based club, where he among many trophies won the Champions League, Conte competed in games between the traditional big teams in his homeland, as well as a local derby steeped in history.
‘I liked these types of games, for sure,’ the 47-year-old revealed. ‘They are not normal.
‘In Italy, when we played the derby against Torino it wasn’t easy. I remember a lot of games like that when I was a footballer, not only as a manager. These games are unpredictable.
‘It’s normal in Italy too to have very tough games when you play against the big teams: Juventus-Inter, Juventus-Milan, against Roma.
‘In Italy, I can tell you about it from my experiences in these types of game against Torino, and when I played with Lecce against Bari - these games are very tough and the supporters feel this.
‘For sure there is a fantastic intensity during the game.’
Conte expects similar today when he will be trying to guide his team to a seventh straight league win.
‘In London there are a lot of teams, but this game is special for our fans. It’s not important to look at the past and I hope it’s not difficult to keep focus.
‘We are working a lot to improve our football, to play good football, and I think during the game we must be focused on the game, and then to put our right passion in. I want my players to play with great intensity and great passion, but always in the right way.’
Conte’s professional career was in its infancy when Tottenham last left west London with all three points, but he thinks our long unbeaten record against them is irrelevant when it comes to today’s tea-time meeting.
‘I don’t like the stats, because they are cold. You have to live the moment. If you speak about our unbeaten run I can reply to you that in this championship Tottenham are unbeaten, and for this reason it’s important to play with good intensity, to try to win, and to change that situation.’