Juventus may not be leading the way in Serie A but they continue to be the benchmark in Italian football, according to Inter boss Antonio Conte.
Juve have secured the title for nine successive seasons in the top flight but face a battle to stretch that streak into double figures under Andrea Pirlo’s leadership.
Milan lead the way in the table having lost just once in 17 league games so far, while Inter and Roma also sit above the reigning champions in the table.
However, as far as Conte is concerned, the Bianconeri remain the team to beat in the competition.
“We know Juventus are a benchmark. They are the side we must look to, one that have dominated in Italy,” he told the media ahead of Sunday’s showdown with Juventus at San Siro.
“They are a side that could show us where we are at – Juve are a reference point for us.”
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A former player for Juve who went on to win Serie A three times while in charge in Turin, Conte praised the way his old club have always looked to build from a position of strength.
He pinpointed the additions made in the transfer market – including Alvaro Morata and Dejan Kulusevski – as a major reason for Juve continuing to set the standard.
“The gap has been narrowed but no one has done it definitely in Italy,” Conte said.
“In the past nine years they have dominated. They have done well in all areas. They have managed to change and adapt, they have made the squad younger and fresher.
“This year they have a structure which has always won. Plus they have added Morata, for example. Each year they do a great job of trying to improve.
“I do not think in Italy there is anyone at that level yet. Sides have improved but not cut out the gap to Juventus. We cannot think anything else than that.”
Inter have achieved five consecutive home Serie A wins – the last time they managed six in a row was back in December 2018 – but have not beaten Juve at San Siro in the league since September 2016.
Conte has yet to register a Serie A win in games against his former employers, losing all three past meetings.