Thursday March 13 2014
Conte: 'Better than on Sunday'

Antonio Conte “preferred this performance to Sunday’s” despite the failure to beat Fiorentina in the Europa League.

The Bianconeri earned a 1-0 win in Serie A at the weekend, but here were pegged back 1-1 by a Mario Gomez equaliser late on.

“In all honesty, I preferred this performance to Sunday’s. Of course when you concede a goal it’s hard to justify, but I feel the team created many chances, hitting the bar as well and probably expressed better football than we saw on Sunday.

“When you concede a goal there are always situations to analyse and corrections to be found. We lost the ball in midfield and this through ball took us by surprise, then Gomez did very well to control and beat Buffon as he came out.”

The second leg at the Stadio Franchi is next Thursday and the Viola now have an away goal to count on.

“Optimistic? I am always optimistic. It’s a football match, we play to win and we have won a lot, but it’s fair to draw against Fiorentina, as they are a strong side. I do feel we were a little unlucky tonight, as we could’ve scored more.”

Curiously, Juve lost 4-2 to Fiorentina earlier this season after going 2-0 up and at the weekend risked conceding a late equaliser in a 1-0 victory. Why do the Bianconeri seem to end on a low in these encounters?

“Maybe we shouldn’t take the lead! On a psychological level teams have a different approach, maybe subconsciously, when going in front early on. We have gone in front in every game with Fiorentina this season.

“The 4-2 defeat was strange, as they scored four in 20 minutes. It’s true on Sunday Fiorentina pushed hard in the final stages, but I felt it was a deserved victory.

“If we look at the chances created tonight, then I’d say we were a little unlucky to draw. It was a good performance from both Juventus and Fiorentina, so I don’t see why we should praise one side to the detriment of another.

“It was a great game and a fine advert for Italian football in Europe. I imagine those watching enjoyed the spectacle.”

Conte defended his use of squad rotation, making five changes from the line-up that started in Serie A on Sunday.

“It was not our intention to control the game, that is not the input I give to my players. I had to replace Giovinco as he had a muscular problem, while Osvaldo was dead by that stage. I absolutely do not tell my players to control a 1-0 lead, as I always urge them to score a second and third goal.

“We won 2-0 in Turkey by rotating the squad and nobody complained there. The squad has 22 players, I tried to put my best formation out taking everything into account. Tevez had a knee problem, Marchisio, Vidal and Pirlo are a stratospheric trio in midfield, while Asamoah played wide. These were hardly second choices.”