Tuesday February 7 2012
Conte targeting Coppa final

Antonio Conte has declared that Juventus will do everything to beat Milan in the Coppa Italia, even as he confirms first-team changes will be made.

The two sides, currently locked in the Serie A title race, are preparing this week for the first leg of their Italian Cup semi-final, scheduled at San Siro for Wednesday evening.

Ahead of the hotly-anticipated clash, Conte has promised that he and his players will give their all to progress through.

“I actually would have preferred a weaker opponent,” he told the assembled Press on Tuesday afternoon.

“Let me be clear, however, that tomorrow’s match is important beyond the team we face, because it is the semi-final of the Coppa Italia.

“We want to reach the final, as well as to take on Milan now. The opportunity to progress is equally spread between the two teams because playing home and away in this meeting counts for a lot in terms of performance.

“To win a European competition for example, you have to be good but also lucky, because if you are in a period of poor form, you can get away with facing less-equipped opponents, whilst in the League usually the best team is rewarded for their continuity.”

Conte has confirmed that he will ring the changes for the clash, from giving run-outs to each of the club’s January signings to handing Marco Storari a go in goal again.

“He is playing his part in the right way and the least I can do on my part is thank him for what he is doing. He is a great professional and a great goalkeeper who is giving me a big hand on and off the field.

“[The new signings] have come to represent not only alternatives but points of strength.

“Moreover, [Martin] Caceres has been at Juventus before, I’ve worked with [Simone] Padoin at Atlanta, whilst [Marco] Borriello has now been here for a month.

“Therefore when they play they can contribute, because we need them to, straight away.”

However, it may still be too early to expect involvement from the forgotten man Elijero Elia.

“Elijero has grown since he arrived. He is starting to understand what we want from him and he is close to becoming a more complete player. He is entering a new type of mentality and a new way of working and is starting to show in training some of the features that led us to buy him.

“I expect him when the time is right to become a reliable player in all the points that you say I do not see in him on the field, and it will be when you least expect it.”

The two clubs  also meet later in the month in the League. Before they do, though, the Bianconeri face three further League tests in what is proving to be a cramped fixture schedule through February. Specifically, the postponed clash with Parma is scheduled for a week tomorrow.

“The rearranged fixtures are destabilising, because there are programs of work we have planned out for months in advance, and instead, you find yourself having to review things a little because you have to try to retrieve items that are already planned out.

“There was meant to be a week of work between Bologna and Catania, and yet now we have to play against Parma…

“We are experienced a tough winter, you still don’t know what will happen tomorrow of even in the next round of League games, but the call is always the same - to be in a position to offer the best show possible.”

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