Juventus coach Antonio Conte is satisfied with the way his side is shaping up, even if their one and only victory so far in pre-season was against Serie A newcomers Sassuolo on penalties.
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The Bianconeri went down to Inter Milan in a penalty shoot-out on Tuesday after defeats to AC Milan, Everton and the Los Angeles Galaxy already in pre-season. Nevertheless, Conte is not reading too much into his side’s results and believes they will be ready when it matters.
“It’s true, we’ve not won yet, but we only actually lost once (over 90 minutes),” he said. “I saw good effort and willingness against Inter. We still need to improve further, but we have taken a step forwards.”
Conte put his side’s rustiness down to the summer heat and tired legs, with many of his players involved in the Confederations Cup until the end of June. He can therefore afford to experiment a little and not focus on getting the results in pre-season.
“If my president had asked me to come here and win the International Champions Cup, then I would have changed our plans,” said the 44-year-old after his side finished last in the eight-game competition in the USA. “Unless I hear otherwise, though, I’ll just continue preparing for the Serie A season, the Champions League and the Coppa Italia.
“The heat also contributes to the misplaced passes and I’m not worried at all.”
The misfiring form of new signing Carlos Tevez is not concerning Conte either. The summer arrival from Manchester City played alongside Mirko Vucinic against Inter and the Juve coach was pleased with what he saw, even if no goal was forthcoming.
“They struggled to begin with, but then they created some big chances,” said Conte at a press conference. “They showed a good understanding. Tevez did well and I was very pleased with Vucinic’s attitude. He’s emerging as a leader and this was great confirmation of that.”
The players’ attitude is going to play an important part in Juve’s season as they bid for a third straight Scudetto, and Conte did not pass up the opportunity to remind his players once again that they cannot afford to sit back.
“Once, after winning two titles in a row as a player, we ended up in the Intertoto Cup the third year,” he said. “Winning three titles in a row is extremely hard. We’ve got to be very careful not to fall into the trap of believing the people who say we’ve already won the title.
“I, the club, the players and the fans must never forget that this is going to be a very difficult year.”