Conte evasive on Inter future ahead of Europa League final

COLOGNE, Germany (AP) — Antonio Conte refused to address his future as Inter Milan coach Thursday, a day ahead of the Europa League final against Sevilla, after previously saying the club should do more to push back against criticism of him and the team.

After the last Serie A game of the season against Atalanta on Aug. 1, Conte said that the club “did not protect us very well” from criticism and “attacks” from outside. Inter finished second in Serie A, one point behind champion Juventus.

Asked Thursday if the Europa League final could be his last game as Inter coach, Conte said through a translator that “over the years, I’ve learned to take things one day at a time. And at this moment in time, I’m really trying to savor this opportunity.”

He added: “That’s what I’ve learned to do over the course of my career, to try and take things one day at a time to live in the moment, to think about the here and now and to try and experience it from every angle without any regrets.”

Conte added that he wouldn’t be satisfied with a second runners-up placing this season if Inter loses to Sevilla.

“What I’ve realized is that people only actually remember when you win finals. I won the Champions League (as a player with Juventus in 1996), but I also lost a further three in the final,” he said.

One potential injury doubt for Inter is Alexis Sanchez. The Chilean forward was an unused substitute in the semifinal against Shakhtar Donetsk with a strained right hamstring.

He completed the warm-up in that game and wasn’t ultimately needed off the bench as first-choice forwards Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martínez scored two goals each in a 5-0 win.

For Sevilla, the key question is the fitness of the team’s top scorer Lucas Ocampos, who scored the winning goal against Wolverhampton in the 1-0 win in the quarterfinals. Ocampos was substituted with a knee problem during the 2-1 semifinal defeat of Manchester United.

“We’ll have a look during today’s training sessions and we’ll see Lucas, how he’s getting on. He’s had an extra day to recover, but everyone needs to be 100% tomorrow night,” coach Julen Lopetegui said through a translator.

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