Saturday December 3 2011
Conte: 'Juve competitive again'

Antonio Conte admits he has achieved his first target, “to make Juventus competitive again,” but faces Cesena without Andrea Pirlo.

The Bianconeri boss has refused to discuss the Scudetto despite the fact they are the only team left unbeaten. After the 1-0 win away to Lazio and fighting back from 3-1 down to earn a 3-3 draw at Napoli, even the Coach cannot hide.

“Juventus were coming off two consecutive seventh place finishes, so it wasn’t right to put us among the Scudetto favourites,” said Conte.

“My first objective was to make Juventus competitive again, therefore to have credibility in the eyes of fans and opponents. That objective has been achieved. Now the second step is to confirm our competitive nature in the long run.

“If we can hit that target too, then we can start to think about other ambitions.”

Pirlo has played in every game so far this season, but sits out a ban in Sunday’s encounter with Cesena. There is the risk Giorgio Chiellini, Simone Pepe, Arturo Vidal and Leonardo Bonucci could miss next week’s trip to Roma if they pick up cards.

“Pirlo is a very important player and man for this club, but whoever plays tomorrow will have my utmost faith,” continued Conte.

“It’s true Pirlo is a reference point, but the team will play at 120 per cent to ensure he is not missed. As for the others on a yellow card, that doesn’t interest me. Cesena are worth as many points as any other, so we must win.”

The Coach also looked back at Tuesday’s spectacular fightback in a six-goal thriller.

“At half-time in Naples I preferred to speak to the squad rather than change line-up or system. And I was right. It’s not true that Napoli were more tired, as we were in the same condition.”

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