Thursday May 10 2012
Mastermind Conte

Of the factors influencing Juventus’ Scudetto success, Antonio Conte is top of the list. Luca Cetta salutes the Old Lady’s man on the bench.

“I always wanted to go to Juve. For me, it's a homecoming... The main objective is to get Juventus back challenging for honours. Juve’s history demands this and through work, 100 per cent commitment and the right attitude I will look to bring this club back to where it deserves to be and where the fans want it to be.”

That was Antonio Conte speaking at his inaugural Press conference as Juventus Coach in May 2011. A year later – after months of not uttering the S-word and keeping championship ambitions under wraps – Conte has led the Bianconeri to the top of the calcio mountain. With one match remaining Juventus have secured Lo Scudetto, remain undefeated, have conceded only 19 goals and kept 21 clean sheets.

The triumph in Trieste ended years of pain following Calciopoli and relegation. The long road back, which had taken a decidedly bumpy form in the past two seasons, has been smoothed out by the former captain and idol.

Hired after guiding Siena to promotion from Serie B – his second such achievement after Bari in 2008-09 – Conte had numerous questions to answer. Consecutive seventh-placed finishes were underpinned by defensive issues and underperforming stars. Conte, whose only previous Serie A spell ended disastrously after three months at Atalanta, had to rectify the troubles within the squad and instil a winning mentality.

He was marked as a disciple of 4-4-2 and the arrival of Andrea Pirlo did not appear to fit his system, but Conte showed his development as a tactician by ensuring versatility. “There will be always be space for great players,” uttered the multi-time Scudetto winner. Conte was true to his word as rather than pigeon-hole Pirlo into a position and drop one of Claudio Marchisio or Arturo Vidal, he found space for all three. This led to the rise of their customary 4-3-3. However Conte’s attention to tactical detail meant he was prepared to alter to suit the opponent. Juve initially fielded a 3-5-2 to mirror Napoli and Udinese, but the formation was additionally utilised a number of times in 2012.

When Conte arrived the pieces of the jigsaw did not quite fit. And despite some hiccups along the way – Milos Krasic and Eljero Elia did not adjust to the pressing and short passing, possession-based style – he now oversees a united team built from a strong defence. The backline is reliable and a source for attacking forays, whilst the trio in midfield are the heart and soul. Juve lack a world-class striker but in keeping with the team ethic and unity, the goals were shared between 18 members of the squad.

Conte worked closely with previously criticised players – Leonardo Bonucci, Pepe and Marco Borriello amongst them – and his impact on the group was telling, with many rushing to offer an embrace when celebrating a goal. Pepe spoke of the trust Conte placed in his abilities and it is a quality the Lecce native radiated throughout the squad.

Debate will rage as to whether this is Scudetto number 28 or 30, but for Conte the number is clear enough. “What number Scudetto is this? Number one, because it's the first I've won as a Coach.” And he will insist his players remain focused in order to add further triumphs to their glittering season – to remain undefeated and claim the domestic double in the Coppa Italia final. Not bad for his first season back home.

Have your say...
I can't think of a better way for Alex to bring down the curtain on his glorious career at Juventus, than seeing him lift the Scudetto trophy later today and hopefully the Coppa next week. Nobody wants Alex to leave, but I think now is the right time. I never wanted Nedved or Trezeguet to leave, and I can't imagine Juve without Gigi Buffon, but all great players leave at some point. It is a time for new heroes and with this glorious title triumph the platform has been laid for future success.
on the 12th May, 2012 at 11:27pm
In one season he has put himself right up there with lippi. Unbeaten in all competitions incredible.
on the 12th May, 2012 at 11:00pm
I sit here in wonder- i had hoped for juve to do well but never expected. Now as i uncross my fingers for the first time this season and look back on things I still feel uneasy. Of course Juve were tactically good and conte astute all season- but they won with heart.... and my heart doesnt want alex to leave like this
on the 12th May, 2012 at 6:23pm
I think that finally all the pieces of the puzzle came together
Conte , Pirlo were always good . Vidal was there when Marchisio was lacking and vise versa. Qualia had an unfortunate injury but still contributed.Matri, Pepe were good at start then Vucinic and Boriello came through
De Cheglie,Caceres had a wonderful season .Lichsteiner was marvelous
Bonucci struggled at times but improved .Barzagli ,Cheillini were always 100%
And of course ADL 37 years old but always scored when it mattered
on the 12th May, 2012 at 4:17pm
This is a beautiful Scudetto to win and Conte has done a remarkable job. He was a warrior as a Juve player and that passion and will to win is clearly visible in his management. The spirit in the whole group is amazing, how many goals have been celebrated with the entire bench. I am not thinking of winning the Champions League, I just hope we play as many of the big guns as possible. Barcelona, Real Madrid, Manchester United, these are the games I want to see and should be embraced, not feared.
on the 12th May, 2012 at 4:22am
This is what inter milan will never have.. They could never truly replicate a guy like Conte. Like everything in Juventus' history, Conte's managerial career was part of a plan and project. Obviously the investment is and will continue to pay off.

ps: sorry to bring inter into this, but i just cant forget
on the 11th May, 2012 at 9:49pm
I'm a milan fan and what Conte achieved this year with juve was remarkable. I'm happy to see another giant in cl.. But people that keep posting juve to win cl .. Come on guys really? Not even close yet.. Well see how it pans out next year.. But for now just enjoy the "30" scudetti
on the 11th May, 2012 at 9:35pm
Conte get Cavani or Higuain in the summer ! And despite what I read below, Cavani would definitely fit the Juve mold. He's a hard worker. As we've seen many times this season, he has no problems going back and defending for the team. get him!
on the 11th May, 2012 at 2:16pm
Juventus are back! I have no words to describe how happy i am at the moment. If i were in Marotta's shoes i would tie Conte down for life in Juve.
I don't raly think we need Cavani-he's just not an "Juve" player. Juve should think of finding the new big talent and future legend-Juve have always had such players-Platini, Baggio, Del Piero (i hope Del Piero is staying for one more year).
I am positive next year we have the strength to win the Champions league. Forca Juve!!!
on the 11th May, 2012 at 8:22am
Conte Hats off, but now it's real business : bring Giovinco back and buy Cavani proven goal scorer and a top RB and CB and Juve in business for CL. I'm a Milan fan though .....
on the 11th May, 2012 at 5:26am
When tigers are absent, monkeys rein the hill. This was exactly what happened in the last Serie A season. Juventus 10-11 were far from a complete team. They won awkwardly even when the milan brothers were toward the end of their prime. Hail when Juv become a CL finalist again.
on the 11th May, 2012 at 4:57am
Well done and all but it wasn't that great. Yes they won the league, hardly look world class tho. Definetly don't want to take it away from them but they did ride their luck abit in some games. Great to see so many italians in 1 team for this I salute juve. Champions league next session will be the test and the only way to judge the progress of this team.
on the 11th May, 2012 at 12:52am
He restored pride back in the badge! He never got ahead of himself and was always graceious in winning. The man is pure class and a legend for ever in my eyes. Like this season next year will be played one game at a time FORZA JUVE! FORZA CONTE!
on the 11th May, 2012 at 12:20am
What is most amazing is that this is not a team full of great players that were expected to win Serie A. Anyone looking at this team a year ago, including myself were expecting a battle with Napoli, Udinese, Roma and Lazio for 3rd place, absolutely nothing more than that. And certainly with 10 games to go and with our struggles in front of goal (60% + posession, 20+ shots at goal and a draw) the Scudetto wasn't even in my mind. What Conte did is extraordinary.
on the 10th May, 2012 at 11:46pm
Wow. All the Conte praise is making me uneasy. Conte hasn't hurt the team, but this team would be struggling without the incredible Pirlo. If I had to choose the singular reason for Juve's success this season, it would pick Pirlo easily.
on the 10th May, 2012 at 9:49pm
Insted of spending crazy money on Tevez or whoever is considerd world-class these days, just bring back S.Giovinco and C.Immobile...There's like 40goals/assists righ there;)
on the 10th May, 2012 at 7:47pm
conte rules,both milan sides fans take hearth
on the 10th May, 2012 at 7:32pm
conte has been a breath of fresh air, this juve side have something very special about them, and getting rid of the dead wood is what was needed, i can honestly see juve winning the cl next season IF they bring in a few class acts, higiuan, RVP, suarez, jelavic any of they 2 would be a dream!

however i am very sad to see the littleman leave:( its been beautiful
on the 10th May, 2012 at 6:07pm
Ferrara, and Del Neri couldn't do it. Conte did. What a coach, used the talents of his team and created the formation that worked for them. At the expence of Krasic and Elia who just wouldn't buy into the system. If Juve can land that classic CF like Trez of old, they would be a serious threat in champions league.
on the 10th May, 2012 at 3:40pm
Did you write the same things about Allegri last season?

I once again salute Juve for winning the league but some of the editors make it sounds like its something utterly incredible.

Is it just me or shouldn't you except this from a team that has won the league now 30 times (see i put down 30 just to avoid Juve fans whining)
on the 10th May, 2012 at 2:36pm
If juve get cavani the champions league is within reach can u imagine if one of Our strikers had scored twenty or more goals this season we would won the scudetto like two months ago. Conte give elia a chance I see potential in lad. FORZA JUVE, FORZA CONTE !!!!!!!!!!!
on the 10th May, 2012 at 2:26pm
Next year will be his real test. It'll be interesting to see!
on the 10th May, 2012 at 2:16pm
I love what Conte has done with Juve! The way Juventus has been playing this year is a clear indication that Conte & Juve belong together. As for Elia technically gifted with potential to become a great, but like Balotelli constantly has problems with Authority in Germany he kept being passed around from club to club because of that. Krasic on the other hand he is a fantastic player, if you give him room to play he will surprise everyone. However he is unwilling to defend & work for the team.
on the 10th May, 2012 at 2:11pm

In my opinion, they should sign Palacio from Genoa.
People keep saying they need a striker that can score 20+ a season.
That is just a statistic that doesnt mean much in real life.

The situations where Juve have failed to punish opponents are Palacio's strength.
on the 10th May, 2012 at 1:42pm
I just want to state, i am sick and tired of people saying "juventus just need to buy a world class striker". These people obviously dont know a thing about Juventus.

Historically, Juventus do not buy world class players, they make players world class.
on the 10th May, 2012 at 1:39pm
Antonio...siamo "Conte"...Forza Juve!
on the 10th May, 2012 at 1:25pm
I love what Conte has done for Juve. As a fan, couldn't ask for more. I just wish he showed more faith in Elia and Matri. They are much more better than Boriello. I hope Elia doesn't end up haunting us like Thierry Henry did.
on the 10th May, 2012 at 11:55am
Antonio conte, what a surprise.!!!!!!!!!
on the 10th May, 2012 at 11:35am
Conte is intelligent, a quick thinker & a motivator. He brought out enthusiasm in the players which was lacking since Juve were promoted from Serie B. The central midfield was only meant for Marchisio & Pirlo but he saw what Vidal was capable of & accommodated him into the system. He got rid of dead weight players like Amauri, Iaquinta & Toni.

Remember Reto Ziegler ? Conte immediately spotted his lack of commitment towards the team and loan him out. If Krasic & Elia dont fit, out they go...
on the 10th May, 2012 at 11:07am
.......Tevez would be a dream purchase but, i think he's out of bounds as he's reintergrated back in to City. But Cavani would be a formidable buy!
on the 10th May, 2012 at 10:58am

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