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Apr 11, 2013

Conte: Bayern were a class above

Juventus coach Antonio Conte has conceded his side proved there is still a gap between them and Europe's elite teams after Wednesday's 2-0 loss to Bayern Munich in the second leg of their Champions League quarter-final tie.

• Champions League wrap
• Rzouki: Fat lady has sung

Goals to Mario Mandzukic and Claudio Pizarro sealed a 4-0 aggregate win for the Bundesliga champions, with Jupp Heynckes' side dominant throughout both legs.

Conte admits Juve's exit is indicative of their standing among Europe's top sides and the Italian had no qualms about Bayern's right to progress.

"I think that the best team went through, which they proved in both legs," Conte told Mediaset. "This side has been working together for a long time and always reaches the latter stages. They were created to win, so I don't think it's absurd to say this is the best Bayern team of all time.

"They are all very physical, work very hard and do so with quality. In football you have to be honest and tip your hat when you find stronger teams. This was an opportunity for us and we were basically newcomers to the Champions League after so many years out. We reached the quarter-finals, which in my view was something extraordinary.

"Now we know there is a long and pretty hard road to go on. That shouldn't scare us, but it should help us keep our feet on the ground and not hear some talking about the Treble in pre-season. Those who say things like that have clearly never won anything in their lives.

"When we were paired with Bayern, I said this was an opportunity for us to face an extremely strong side and understand the gap that separated us from the superpowers.

"What I liked the most was the attitude of the fans today, as they recognised what these lads have been doing. The applause at the final whistle was what the lads deserved, as they gave everything, but at times 110 per cent is not enough. I am very proud of the Juventus fans."

Buffon echoed Conte's claims that Juve are not yet ready to be touted as one of Europe's best, admitting he didn't expect the gap between the two sides to be so significant.

"If we had regrets after the first leg at not playing our best game, me especially, we were curious to see what the real difference was between us and the elite of European football. In all honesty, they have something more," Buffon said.

"If the target is Bayern Munich, then I don't know what we need to reach them, as they have everything it takes to win this tournament. They have great technique, physicality, quick thinking, experience and have been together for a long time.

"All these qualities mean they deserved to win, but I will candidly admit I didn't expect them to be this good. We were concerned, but I was convinced we could play on a par with anyone in the quarter-final draw. Unfortunately, that was not the case, as they showed they were superior.

"I want to underline the attitude of the Juventus fans was wonderful, as they showed how sporting and intelligent they are to appreciate the efforts. What we put on the field was the most we could do right now and we thank them for their support."

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