Monday April 14 2014
Conte: 'Benitez advice? No thanks'

Antonio Conte believes the Scudetto race is still open, but rejected Rafa Benitez’s offer to help Juventus.

The Bianconeri made short work of Udinese this evening, winning 2-0 with Sebastian Giovinco and Fernando Llorente goals.

With five rounds to go, Juve have already amassed 87 points – as many as throughout all of last season.

“This was a dangerous game and we could not afford to drop points. Even in a difficult situation, we gave it our all,” Conte told Sky Sport Italia.

“The season remains open and we did well to face this match with the right determination, approach and concentration.”

Juve dominated despite resting Leonardo Bonucci, Arturo Vidal and top scorer Carlos Tevez.

“Carlos needed a break, as he continued to suffer this thigh problem and it was not good for him or us, as he risked a long lay-off. We will monitor his condition for the next game and the same goes for Arturo’s knee injury. He’d happily play with one leg, but you need two to play football.

“My choices were somewhat forced upon me today. Bonucci played eight consecutive games, so it was time he had a breather. Now we hope to have Andrea Barzagli back too.”

Juventus host relegation battlers Bologna on Easter Saturday, but Bonucci and Stephan Lichtsteiner will be banned.

“We were unlucky tonight, as Bonucci was booked on the bench and Lichtsteiner when he was coming off the field.

“We have to keep going, we know the campaign is not over and that Roma won’t give up, so neither will we.”

Sebastian Giovinco was often jeered by fans, but scored a sensational goal to break the deadlock this evening.

“All my players had a great game tonight, which wasn’t easy. I knew Giovinco was in good form, he is a player who I already said in the past must realise he can make the difference at a side like Juventus too.

“I am pleased with this performance, as some considered him to be like a child for me, but I had no favouritism for him. I defend all my players, as I did in the past with Mirko Vucinic,” insisted Conte.

“They give me 110 per cent and as long as they do that I will defend them against anyone and everyone, even our own fans. The players give their all and I will always protect them.”
Conte refused to suggest Juve had their hands on the Scudetto and reiterated no game will be snubbed, even with the Europa League semi-final approaching.

“When playing against Udinese, you know they let you have possession because they can immediately hit you on the break at the slightest error. It’s their tactical approach.

“We studied them and prepared for this match, as there’s no time left for a slip-up. We cannot afford to take any game lightly and every game must prove itself on the field, otherwise Barcelona would be in the Champions League semi-final right now.

“The most important game is on Saturday against Bologna. The lads know that, they know Roma won’t let go. Roma had a step forward at the weekend and we had a step forward today. I expect to see a packed Juventus Stadium pushing us on to victory.”

This week Benitez publicly offered to advise Conte on how to beat Benfica, as his Chelsea saw them off in the Europa League Final last season. However, the response was less than encouraging.

“As Napoli went out against Porto, I’d prefer to avoid asking his advice on Portuguese sides! Maybe I have a little more faith in my own collaborators.”