Inter head coach Antonio Conte is convinced there are seven teams fighting for the Serie A title and a top-four spot as he insisted the Nerazzurri are not Scudetto favourites. (More Football News)
Conte's Inter are second and three points adrift of city rivals Milan, but full of confidence after upstaging nine-time defending champions Juventus 2-0 last week.
Inter outclassed Juve at San Siro to enhance their title credentials in Italy, where they have not claimed the Scudetto since their treble-winning campaign in 2009-10.
But Conte dismissed the favourites tag, with Napoli, Roma, Juve, Atalanta and Lazio also vying for silverware and a Champions League berth.
"I always said since the beginning of the season that I see seven teams fighting for the first four positions, either for the Scudetto or for a place in the next Champions League," Conte said ahead of Saturday's fixture away to Udinese.
"I think the first half of the season confirmed my opinion. We have seen some teams being more consistent than others but in the end this first Serie A round confirmed that there are seven teams able to play for the title until the end of the season."
Inter have won nine of their last 11 Serie A games against Udinese (D1 L1) and have not conceded a goal in their last five against the club.
The Nerazzurri have scored 45 goals in their first 18 league fixtures this season – only Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich have scored more (48) in the top five European leagues in 2020-21.
In a 20-team season, only in 1951-52 have the Nerazzurri scored more in the first half of a season (48).
Meanwhile, among coaches who have led Inter for at least 30 Serie A games in the era of three points per win, Conte has the joint-best points-per-game average (2.18 per match, level with Jose Mourinho).
A mouth-watering Coppa Italia quarter-final derby against neighbours Milan looms on Tuesday, but Conte said: "Our focus and our choices are only based on Udinese in this moment. The championship is too important [to make changes towards the derby] because apart from the Scudetto you have a place in the next Champions League to fight for.
"The championship is our priority. We have to focus on Udinese and we have to approach this game with the right mentality. After this game we are going to think about the next one but today Udinese are our priority."
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