Thursday February 27 2014
Conte: 'Huge Juve improvement'

Antonio Conte praised Juventus for their victory at Trabzonspor and warned Fiorentina will be “a very difficult obstacle.”

The 2-0 result in Turkey followed on from the 2-0 in the first leg, though they were very different performances.

“I am very happy, as it is certainly a better performance in every way compared to the first leg,” the Coach told Sky Sport Italia.

“We approached it the right way, whereas in Turin we only did what we wanted to in fits and starts. We risked compromising qualification in the first leg.”

Sebastian Giovinco put in a splendid performance to silence his critics, setting up the goal for Daniel Osvaldo and having several chances.

“In order to continue in Serie A and the Europa League I need everyone. Some of these lads are mistreated by the critics, but they can gain confidence and form by playing well in these games.

“Giovinco did well with the assists, but he is right to get angry when he doesn’t score. He is a striker, so he should want to score goals.

“I did say yesterday that people shouldn’t expect us to come here and defend. We tried to score from the start and that’s what we did. Once the game was already in a strong position, I was then able to make a few changes and rest players like Paul Pogba and Martin Caceres.”

Claudio Marchisio was used in the Andrea Pirlo deep-lying playmaker position and impressed Conte.

“Marchisio has everything it takes to do well in that role. If he starts seeing the vertical passes for the strikers and midfielders pushing up, then he can be a real huge surprise in that position. Of course Andrea is the first choice, but Marchisio is proving to be a very valid back-up that helps us relax.”

Juventus face Fiorentina in the Europa League Round of 16, a fixture both teams would’ve preferred to avoid.

“Inevitably when two teams from the same country meet at the Round of 16 it is never good, as we want all the Italian clubs to go as far as possible in the competitions.

“We picked Fiorentina in the draw, we face them with a strong desire to go forward and realise Vincenzo Montella’s side are a very difficult obstacle in our path.”

Conte was asked whether the Champions League elimination to enter the Europa League helped Juventus to mature more quickly.

“Last season I thought our Champions League was extraordinary, going through instead of Chelsea and only going out to Bayern Munich. In my view they are now starting an era that will be difficult to stop.

“Our group phase this year was disappointing, but these things happen and apart from Buffon, Pirlo and Tevez few of these players have double figures of club appearances in that competition.

“I said it would require patience and for the team to grow. In the meantime, performances like this are I believe a good advert for Italian football abroad.”

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