Antonio Conte has “blind faith” in Juventus ahead of the Super Cup against Lazio, but insisted “there are no favourites.”
The Coach sat down at a Press conference for the Italian Super Cup, which kicks off at the Stadio Olimpico at 20.00 UK time on Sunday.
“I don’t think there are any favourites. All I hope is that the team that lifts the trophy truly deserved it and was not considered ‘lucky’ to get the victory.
“I have great respect for all of Lazio and their Coach, so it would be reductive to choose one player to remove from their team.
“Is it already my Juve? This is my third year, so it would be a serious problem if it weren’t my Juve. We are coming off a month of pre-season training and I have blind trust in these lads because I’ll never forget that in my first two years as a Coach at Juventus I won the title.”
The Bianconeri have struggled badly in pre-season, finishing last in the International Champions Cup in America with three defeats.
“Preparing for a Super Cup match in three days isn’t going to make me leap with joy. The break for international duty wasn’t pleasing, but Vladimir Petkovic is in the same situation, so there is no alibi for either side.
“We are challenging for a trophy, but I wouldn’t like a Juventus victory to be treated as normal and a Lazio triumph considered amazing. These are two strong teams and either side could win the silverware.
“The thing that gives me the most confidence is knowing my players. In that respect, I am very relaxed. I’ve worked with these lads for two years, so have guarantees on their professionalism as well as the kind of men they are.
“This match arrives in a difficult moment for both us and Lazio, so I think we’re on an even keel.”
Last season Juve only managed to beat Lazio once in four meetings, which included the Coppa Italia semi-final.
“In the Coppa Italia I thought Juventus deserved much more, but having said that Lazio must be given credit for managing to qualify,” continued Conte.
Much has been made of Fernando Llorente’s problems settling in at Juve and he’ll reportedly be on the bench tomorrow, but the Coach vented his irritation at the media’s line of questioning.
“Thinking of getting around certain difficulties with a single player is just wrong, as we play as a team – one that won the Scudetto.
“The media is trying to create a situation around Llorente that I find laughable. He arrived three weeks ago, is working hard – which is the most important thing for me – and above all barely played for a year. It is inevitable a player will encounter difficulties in those circumstances.
“We know him well, were fortunate and smart enough to sign him on a Bosman and he’s trying to get into our system. There ought to be some respect and not just hurling insults at someone or piling on the pressure to create a headline. The media creates controversy out of nothing.”
There was controversy around the Super Cup for months, as it was originally set to be in Beijing, then the clubs battled over dates, venues and how to split the ticket sales.
It took another twist this week when Juventus cancelled their training session at La Borghesiana and as of today borrowed Roma’s Trigoria camp.
“The Lega made the decision along with the two clubs. We accepted it and prepared as best we could. We had planned a certain training regime, but unfortunately we had to change because we found some situations that were not suitable.
“Someone even wrote that we changed training camps because there were ‘spies,’ which again made me laugh. We simply wanted the players to be in the best circumstances.
“We trained at Trigoria – for which I thank Roma – because we were struggling. I also propose that if they want to, we can host them at Vinovo when they come to Turin, to thank them for their hospitality. I see nothing special or abnormal in this situation.”