Saturday February 22 2014
Llorente bullish for Turin Derby

Fernando Llorente praises Antonio Conte and Juventus, prepares for the Derby della Mole and forgives Tuttosport.

The Turin derby is on Sunday at the unusual time of 17.30 GMT, click here for a match preview.

He spoke to Tuttosport and forgave them for an early headline doubting his credentials for the club.

“I remember that huge headline in September: ‘Is Llorente only handsome and nothing else?’ I didn’t take it badly, as I immediately understood the spirit of the question.

“I wasn’t playing and people were wondering where I’d got too. Conte knew I needed a lot of physical work to reach the right form. He did an incredible job with me, able to wait for the perfect moment to let me play.”
Llorente is expected to start tomorrow’s big game and doesn’t fear the atmosphere.

“Believe me, I’ve already experienced some fiery derbies. I know how they work. With nine years at Athletic Bilbao I had many extraordinary clashes with Real Sociedad in the Basque Derby. There are also big social and political implications around the sporting rivalry too.

“I’d love to score in the derby, because I just love these passionate, long-awaited and different fixtures. They are special, so every goal in them is also special. I know how much the fans care.

“In a way, the ‘bull’ is in my destiny, as I always loved the bull-fights and would dress up as a matador when I was a kid.”

The tall Spaniard has formed an impressive partnership with Carlos Tevez, though explains their differences are what make them work.

“We are very different and perhaps that is also why we make such a good pair. He is more aggressive, moves more, is shorter and you can sense his hunger to score goals. We don’t hang out off the field, but between training and games I spend more time with Tevez than my own girlfriend!”

Juventus face Torino tomorrow, then visit Trabzonspor for the second leg of the Europa League Round of 32 on Thursday.

“We are using up a lot of energy at the moment, but it’ll be useful for the sprint finish in the long run. We mustn’t do something really stupid to throw away everything we’ve built so far,” continued Llorente.

“Fortunately I was prepared for Conte’s methods, as Marcelo Bielsa also worked his players very hard. Juve is an incredible opportunity for me, so I must prove who I am and what I’m worth. I want to prove I’m up to this task.

“Conte is such a great Coach. He brings with him the experience of a player, so he sees things before they happen in the game. He warns you in advance, so you’re on your toes. He lives football and passes on this gigantic energy and desire to win.

“I am curious to see what he was like as a player. I’ll have to look up clips on YouTube. Occasionally he’ll tell us an anecdote about when he was a player to help us understand the situation.

“In the locker room we’re like a single block of concrete, which is another key to our success. It’s pretty unusual in football to find such a united dressing room atmosphere. I share a room with Paul Pogba before games and he always makes me laugh, helping to overcome tension. He knows the potential he’s got and can win the Ballon d’Or one day.”