Antonio Conte tried to restore Juventus confidence ahead of tomorrow’s game with Sassuolo. “We are not failures.”
The Bianconeri host Sassuolo at 17.30 GMT on Sunday, a change from the scheduled Saturday evening kick-off due to their extended trip to Galatasaray. Click here for a match preview.
The 1-0 defeat under the snow in Istanbul saw them crash out of the Champions League and into the Europa League.
“It is not the first time we have fallen on the field of play. In fact, this season we fell twice in a row against Fiorentina and Real Madrid,” said Conte in his Press conference.
“In two and a half years we fell few times, but we must do well to again get back on our feet.”
The Coach was irritated when asked if going out in the group phase represented a ‘failure’ of the campaign.
“Failure in what? That we didn’t win the Champions League? If our target for the season was to win the Champions League then it’s a failure, but the truth is we could’ve had a longer journey in the tournament.
“I don’t recall us ever saying our objective was the Treble, putting the Champions League first, then the Scudetto and Coppa Italia. If you think that from one day to the next you can create dominant teams, then just remember we already performed a miracle in being protagonists again.
“Last season we went out in the quarter-finals against eventual winners Bayern Munich. We didn’t start strong this year and that damaged our chances, but it takes time. This isn’t the same Champions League I used to play in, as you face teams that are economically difficult to match.
“There’s no point burying your head in the sand. In my view, it’ll be tough to see another Italian side in the Champions League Final for a while, as the clubs have to be rebuilt to make investments. I said that two years ago and I was right.
“I have already explained that we went out because we didn’t really play the last match, but shouldn’t have left ourselves in that position in the first place. What happened in Istanbul was incredible and perhaps destiny sent us a message. I told the lads to understand where we can improve, as the objective is to keep raising the bar and write history.”
Now Juventus face Sassuolo and Conte is expecting another very tough test for his men in Turin.
“It’s important to talk about the present, not the past, and Sassuolo have already earned draws away to two of our closest challengers, Roma and Napoli. We’ve got to be very careful they don’t make it a hat-trick.
“I will field my best XI, knowing there is also a Coppa Italia match next week. We’re without Andrea Pirlo, Mirko Vucinic and Claudio Marchisio, while Sebastian Giovinco got another knock. Kwadwo Asamoah could be a solution in central midfield.”
Conte was reminded that Carlos Tevez failed to score a single Champions League goal.
“I was very happy with his performances and in Turkey he behaved like a real leader. He’s a great buy as a player and in terms of charisma. You can score goals, but if you don’t work well for the team then I’m not happy.”