Saturday September 21 2013
Conte: 'Used to Juve criticism'

Antonio Conte reveals he’ll be resting Gigi Buffon against Verona, reassures Fernando Llorente and shrugs off criticism of Juventus.

The Bianconeri host giant-killers Hellas Verona on Sunday at 14.00 UK time (13.00 GMT). Click here for a match preview.

They are fresh from 1-1 draws with Inter and FC Copenhagen, falling off the top spot in Serie A for the first time in two years.

“It’s only normal for people to talk about Juve in crisis, as we are Juve,” shrugged the Coach during his Press conference.

“Last year more or less the same thing happened in this period when we drew Nordsjaelland and lost to Inter. We are accustomed to this at Juve, as there is always going to be pressure and we mustn’t let it crush us, instead using it to bring something more out of ourselves.

“This is the exact same criticism we received last year, that Juve only do well in Italy, then we beat Chelsea 3-0 and suddenly the headlines suggested we could win the Champions League. We are in Italy, a country that lives on its excesses. Our job is to control these situations and stay calm.”

Conte revealed a surprising change to the starting XI against Verona, as he will rotate the goalkeepers.

“I can confirm Marco Storari will start. It’s a normal rotation that we also did last year. Buffon is coming from international duty and we have another four games in quick succession ahead of us, so together with him and the fitness coaches we decided to rest him.

“It’s normal, as every win was down to the support of all the players. Everyone in this squad deserves to play for Juventus.”

Yet Fernando Llorente has barely set foot on the pitch since arriving from Athletic Bilbao over the summer and is starting to become a concern for the media.

“I find it unfair that I have to get criticised for how I play Llorente. I understand if there’s criticism over results, but not this. The same ought to happen for the lack of playing time for Sebastian Giovinco or Simone Padoin.

“I am the Coach and I know what happens during the week in training. Llorente is a player we all chose together and we all support him together. I don’t want this game of trying to figure out who wanted who. The basis of our success over these years is that we shared everything, the positive and negative choices.

“Fernando basically didn’t play for a year due to his problems with Bilbao, which is why he needed time to rediscover the grit, intensity and tempo of a match situation. You lose these things when you don’t play.

“Now he has trained for three months and will have his chance, because he is earning it. He could play tomorrow, Wednesday or next Sunday. I won’t tell you when it will happen, though.

“Claudio Marchisio played in the midweek friendly test and is available for Sunday. It’s an important return, as he allows me to rotate the midfielders.”

Napoli and Roma are top of the table with 100 per cent records, while Inter and Fiorentina have also had strong starts.

“I am not surprised, because I always said this was going to be a very complex campaign, as teams reinforced and can aim for the Scudetto. It’s exciting, as it forces us to play very well in order to win. I’m happy with that.”

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