Friday March 15 2013
Conte respects Bologna threat

Juventus boss Antonio Conte is not under-estimating this weekend’s opponents Bologna. “They’re in good form.”

The Old Lady tactician spoke to the media this morning, before the Champions League draw was made, ahead of Saturday’s match at the Dall’Ara.

“We’ll probably be up against the most in-form team in the Division tomorrow,” he commented.

“They’ve won their last three games, they are virtually safe and they’ll be looking for an exploit against us.

“They’ll have that possibility seeing as they have players like Alessandro Diamanti, Alberto Gilardino, Manolo Gabbiadini and others. Boss Stefano Pioli, too, is doing an excellent job.

“We expect a tough match.

“Diamanti? It’s hard to talk about players who I don’t train. I want to congratulate him for what he is doing, he deserves a big club.

“I’ll pick the best team possible, knowing that whoever comes on from the bench will be up to the job.”

Turning to the Champions League, where Juve were later paired with Bayern Munich, Conte admitted that he was saddened by Milan’s exit this week.

“I was disappointed. After 15 days, Milan faced Barcelona in the same way but they came up against a phenomenon.

“We in Italy are two or three steps below teams like Barcelona. Milan did everything possible to get through.

“We’re proud to be the only Italian side, along with Lazio, left in European competition.

“The Champions League is a dream, we are not one of the favourites, but we’ll take on whoever we get.

“I didn’t join Juventus to just participate. That is not part of the DNA of this club. The target was to become protagonists again and we have managed to do that in a short space of time.

“The draw will be great to watch, but our Champions League right now is tomorrow against Bologna.”

An international break will follow this weekend’s round of action.

“International breaks take a lot of our players away, but we are proud to give so many to national sides. Paul Pogba being an example,” he said after the Frenchman received his first cap.

“He’s making big strides. He’s already on a good road, but he has to be kept on it as he has great ability. He’s changed a lot since the first day I saw him – he’s now much more certain in himself, calmer.”

Conte also used the conference to silence rumours that Juventus are interested in re-signing Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

“It’s a topic that has nothing to do with me and it is a negative topic for our environment, especially for the players here who are doing their all.”