Juventus assistant manager Angelo Alessio said they “achieved this mission” of Champions League qualification, but can now hand over to Antonio Conte.
“It’s very satisfying that we have achieved this mission, as winning here and finishing top was exceptional. We have to thank the squad, as despite Antonio’s absence from the touchline they were entirely at our disposal,” he noted of the 1-0 victory away to Shakhtar Donetsk.
Not only did the Bianconeri qualify for the last 16, but they also won Group E and knocked reigning holders Chelsea out of the tournament.
“We have been growing throughout the competition, culminating in the great performance against Chelsea and tonight’s victory.
“We knew all about Shakhtar and that they are based mainly on individual talents, though they caused us some problems on the counter-attack. Once you block their creative centres, they are not very organised, so we were able to neutralise them.”
Conte was in the stands of the Donbass Arena and cameras caught him shouting at director Fabio Paratici. His ban for failing to report a potential fix to the authorities – a charge he has always denied – expires this week, so Conte will be back on the bench from Sunday.
“It was difficult to do without Antonio, but the team knows what it has to do and how it must move, so they helped the situation immensely. We had to call a few players today who weren’t keeping their positions,” continued Alessio.
“I know what Antonio has been through over the last few months. I want to thank the staff who worked so hard to achieve this fundamental objective of qualification.”
Think you know your Italian football? Share your knowledge, tips and comments to win cash prizes in OLBG's tipster competition - £5,000 monthly.