Antonio Conte says Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez can still improve as Inter prepare to face Shakhtar Donetsk once again.
The Nerazzurri made light work of Shakhtar in their previous meeting, winning 5-0 in the Europa League semi-final in August.
Lukaku and Martinez each scored twice in that emphatic victory in Dusseldorf as they became the first Inter striker duo to hit at least 20 goals each in a single season since Adriano and Obafemi Martins in 2004-05.
Lukaku, whose 34 goals in all competitions was the best tally for a player in his first season at the club since Ronaldo 22 years ago, has already hit seven goals in six appearances in 2020-21.
But Inter boss Conte expects both players to get better as he attempts to re-establish the club as a major force in the Champions League.
“They made huge improvements and they can become even more important for the team,” Conte said on Monday ahead of Inter’s Group B game with Shakhtar.
“In order to compare them with other [great strikers] at the European level, we need to win, it’s the only way to carve out an important place in Europe.”
Conte also warned against any sort of complacency against a Shakhtar side that stunned Real Madrid with a 3-2 win in Spain on matchday one.
“The two situations [last season’s semi-final and this match] can’t be compared,” he said. “In August, we were perfect both in defense and attack. We’ll need another careful performance.
“They are very strong, most of them are Brazilian players, very fast and skillful. It’s no accident they won in Madrid, so we’ll need a lot of attention. We won’t play a good game.”
Shakhtar boss Luis Castro also hopes there is no repeat of the previous meeting, in which Inter scored four in 19 minutes in the second half.
“It showed what I already knew about football: everything can happen so suddenly,” he said. “We were only one goal down at the break but after their second goal, the game was slipping through our fingers.
“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 is happening around you.”