Juventus coach Antonio Conte says he is not devaluing the Europa League by rotating his team for the last 32 clash with Trabzonspor and insists he has his sights set on winning the competition.
The final of this season’s Europa League will be at Juve’s Turin Stadium, with Bianconeri fans hoping their side will deliver a record fourth triumph in the competition on home soil.
Questions have been raised about how seriously Conte is taking the competition following his side’s Champions League exit but while the Juve boss admitted he will make changes against Trabzonspor, he outlined his hopes to win the “prestigious” Europa League.
"I've done some calculations and I see that in the next 51 days, the players are going to have 16 games, including an international break, which means they will be playing every three days," Conte said at a news conference in Turin.
"We've all got to be ready -- all of the squad -- because I'm going to need everybody, what with Serie A and the Europa League.
"The Europa League is certainly prestigious for all of us. We've got to try to reach the final, using all of the players we've got. They're all going to have to be ready for when somebody needs a pit-stop. We want to progress and it's an opportunity for all of us to take as they're all going to make their contribution."
Juventus are regarded as one of the favourites to win the Europa League this season, having been eliminated somewhat surprisingly from the Champions League.
"I don't know if Juventus are favourites or not, but I thank people for thinking that," Conte continued. "We want to go all the way and to do this, I need everybody in my squad, including the physios and doctors.
“We can't think we can play 23 games in a few months with all the same players. We've got to raise the tension levels because we've just got three months and the games that are arriving now are those which can take you further in Europe, or closer to the Scudetto.
“These three months are going to be intense, and they will get even more intense the further along we go. Winning the Europa League would certainly represent something beautiful; extraordinary."
Angelo Ogbonna is one of the beneficiaries of Conte's squad rotation, taking his place in the back three on Thursday night with Giorgio Chiellini sidelined. The Italian defender is keen to take his chance to help keep the Bianconeri on course for a Serie A and Europa League double.
"Our intention is to go through," he said. "We know we have lots of games, but all we can do is play our best, looking for our chances."