Thursday April 24 2014
Conte: 'An unjust result'

Antonio Conte felt “great regret for this unjust result” and blasted his defence after Juventus lost to Benfica.

The first leg of the Europa League semi-final ended 2-1 in Lisbon, while the decider is in Turin next Thursday.

“I think there is great regret for this unjust result,” the Coach told Sky Sport Italia.

“The game didn’t start in the best way, as we conceded after a couple of minutes from a set play and knew the enthusiasm for Benfica.

“However, after that we took control and allowed Benfica practically nothing. We felt from one moment to the next they would capitulate, but instead this goal arrived out of nowhere.

“It’s a shame, as at that moment we were pushing for our second goal. We fell asleep at the back. We fell asleep. Let’s say we were caught napping there...

“We have understood that the semi-final is open and the Juventus Stadium, when it wants to, is capable of matching the extraordinary atmosphere in Lisbon. It’s a Final we all want.”

Conte was playing when Juventus lost 2-1 to Benfica in 1992-93, but they won the second leg and went on to lift the UEFA Cup that season. Does this precedent leave him more optimistic?

“Optimism and confidence are given to me by the performance tonight. It wasn’t easy to come here and play like this against a team that was unbeaten on home turf.

“We didn’t play in the clichéd Italian style, as we attacked, kept the tempo up, were intense and forced Benfica to focus exclusively on the counter. We kept up the honour of Italian football tonight.”

The Bianconeri tried to spread the play down the flanks more in the second half to stretch Benfica.

“In the first half that start really didn’t help, even though Benfica did practically nothing after that. We tried to go through the centre, but in the second half Markovic was struggling to keep up with Asamoah, so I told them to push more down that channel.

“We could’ve been more efficient in front of goal and scored a lot more, but we remain optimistic for the second leg, even if we know it’ll be difficult.”

Conte was asked whether he should adjust the 3-5-2 system for four at the back in Europe against teams with certain characteristics.

“Systems count up to a certain point. Principles are more important and Juventus have done well to play attacking football over the last three years, reaching the Champions League quarter-finals and now hopefully the Europa League Final.

“Other teams who play with four at the back are at home watching us on television, so the systems don’t make much difference.”

Watch Serie A live in the UK on Premier Sports and get your first month free. £5.99 thereafter until September with promo code: ITALIA