Antonio Conte has revealed what he has missed most during his touchline ban, before insisting that a stronger Juventus wants both the League and Cup.
The tactician returned to the dugout this weekend for the League match at Palermo, after serving a four-month touchline ban for his alleged involvement in the betting scandal.
Conte spoke after his side’s eventual 1-0 win at the Renzo Barbera of missing a number of elements to experiencing the game on the bench, but chose in his first pre-match Press conference since May to pick out one particular aspect.
“I have to add something, one thing that occurred to me that I have felt - the one thing that I missed most in the last four months has been the physical contact with the players at the end of the game,” Conte told reporters today.
“This is the one thing that I felt. The beautiful thing that I felt at the end of the game was the embrace with everyone, it is something essential. If there is something that I would not give up, it is this physical contact with my players.
“Unfortunately in these last four months I was taken away [from the pitch], because even after the game I could not enter the dressing room until the next day, when the moment has passed.
“After the game I went back to doing what I have always done, then the norm, back to the dressing room, to hug, to enjoy the victory, if it is a well-deserved victory, I know the players very well. At Palermo they did very well, so there was every reason to compliment and thank my players.
“I have returned and it is still back to a normal media attention. I say normal, because there was a disproportionate amount of media attention when things were negative, which has not been pointed out.”
The Coach was talking to the assembled Press ahead of Wednesday’s Coppa Italia clash with Cagliari.
“Let’s start by saying that the Coppa Italia is one of three official competitions, even a fourth with the Super Cup that we won. Currently we are in the League, Champions League and Cup, so our intention is to do our best in all three competitions and therefore the Coppa Italia is something important.
“It is an opportunity to be exploited, for those that have seen less playing time this year but that I have great faith in.
“We are talking about Giaccherini, Padoin, Marrone, Caceres, who are always exceptional when called up, who are playing less but that I would never give up. They are players that I have the utmost confidence in and as long as I am Juventus Coach, they will always be with me.
“I have spoken of these four, but it is extended to all the players who are playing less.”
Juve are currently four points clear at the top of the Serie A table and was asked if he felt the team were stronger than last season and in a position to retain the Scudetto.
“Yes, I’d like to talk about the Coppa Italia, even if we can open up a small parenthesis… I’d rather concentrate on the Coppa Italia. We have four points more than the team in second, that is definitely a good margin, but we know that even if that is so, it can be anything if you do not continue to win, because the League is played over the year, so it is important to confirm week by week the work done.
“Juventus are definitely more aware of their own means, because last year at this time we faced a big question mark in the sense that we had already started to impress, but no-one knew where we would finish.
“Then we had an incredible season, something that is really hard to repeat, because we won the Scudetto going unbeaten, we made it to the Coppa Italia Final.
“Definitely this year there is more conviction, given to the fact that we have won the Scudetto, reached the Cup final, won the Super Cup, are leading the championship now and are proving game after game that we deserve to be in our position of first place.
“There is more awareness in our ability, but we know that we must work hard to reinforce it in Italy, especially to win the League again. Look at Milan last year - despite having a great team, in spite of having great players, they failed to win it again and retain the Scudetto, so it will be very very hard for us.”
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