Monday April 28 2014
Conte: 'If Roma are stratospheric...'

Antonio Conte insists there’s no “Scudetto celebration” yet, but “if Roma are stratospheric then I can’t finds adjectives to describe Juventus.”

The Coach spoke to Sky Sport Italia after the 3-1 victory away to Sassuolo, which put them eight points clear with three games to go.

“No, it was not a Scudetto celebration, as there’s still a chance for those chasing us, so we have to finish it off definitively next week.

“We certainly made a big step forward, but those behind us have every right to continue believing.”

Conte celebrated with a Jose Mourinho-style knee slide after Fernando Llorente’s third goal.

“What was going through my mind was that we were making a very important step towards a historic Scudetto, as it’d be the third in a row.

“I always had a certain attitude, right from when I was at Arezzo. I was always passionate and enthusiastic as a player and continue that way as a Coach.

“I live my profession with great enthusiasm and participation, which I think the players appreciate, as I am there fighting with them on the field, in good times and bad.”

However, Conte took the opportunity to take another sideswipe at Rudi Garcia and Roma.

“I hear people say Roma are doing something stratospheric. I say we are eight points ahead of Roma and playing in the Europa League semi-final.

“If Roma are stratospheric then I cannot find an adjective to describe Juventus.

“Anything Juventus do becomes almost expected. If we win the Europa League, it’ll be considered a worthless trophy. If we lose, then people will say Juve aren’t ready for Europe. When we achieve something, people act as if it’s normal administration.

“I think those behind us are irritable, not us. They should be careful with what they say, as Roma and Garcia took a step backwards by feeding into the culture of suspicion with talk of ‘help’ and opponents not giving their all. If this is football culture, then it’s a step backwards.”

Juventus must overturn the 2-1 first leg defeat in the Europa League semi-final with Benfica on Thursday.

“We are going to play with 12 men on Thursday, I am convinced of it, and Benfica had better beware because the fans are going to enter the fray.

“What excites me is these three years in charge of Juventus. This has been a truly incredible journey, if we think that three years ago we overcame all the odds.

“I am excited to be training these lads who give their all when called upon. It is an exciting time and I want us to enjoy it with our fans.

“I reiterate I want on Thursday for the supporters to create a fiery cauldron in the stadium, just as Benfica’s fans did in Lisbon.”

Simone Zaza scored the opening goal for Sassuolo after just nine minutes, a striker who is co-owned by Juventus.

“Zaza is a strong player who has grown a lot this year. It’s a shame, as we had studied how he could hurt us and he did it anyway! He gave us a wake-up call and I have to compliment Sassuolo, a team that plays real football and can survive in Serie A.”

Conte was asked what he is targeting next season after three years of domination.

“It’s not easy to keep players on point for three years in a row. I think being able to keep them motivated and fired up was not simple. They deserve much of the credit, as a Coach can bring ideas, but the players have to be extraordinary men and I have those at Juventus.

“Next year? Let’s try to end this one on a high first! President Andrea Agnelli asked us to achieve this historic treble, something his father and grandfather didn’t manage at this club.”

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