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Apr 9, 2014

Conte: Juve focused on Europa League

The Europa League clash against Lyon is all that matters for Juventus at the moment, according to coach Antonio Conte, with Monday's Serie A clash against Udinese only becoming an issue on Friday morning.

Rzouki: Juve top Livorno

Conte’s side face the Ligue 1 outfit on Thursday in the second leg of their quarterfinal clash, holding a 1-0 lead thanks to Leonardo Bonucci's late goal last week in France.

And during his prematch news conference on Wednesday, the Juve boss let everyone know just how important he considers the game to be.

Already frustrated by a question posed to Martin Caceres about his hopes of playing at the World Cup, Conte intervened after the Juve defender was asked whether he could imagine linking up with Paris Saint-Germain striker Edinson Cavani next season.

"We're here to talk about the second leg of a quarterfinal of the Europa League," Conte told his prematch news conference in Turin. "For me, Serie A does not exist today. We're focused on this game because it would be prestigious for Juve to reach the semifinals.

"Let's not forget that it's been seven years since an Italian side last reached the semifinals of this competition, so doing so would be something to be proud of."

Caceres echoed his coach’s comments, insisting that the Europa League is the team’s only focus at the moment.

"We can't win either the league or the Europa League right now," Caceres said. "Tomorrow's game is the most important one for this week, then we think can about the league after.

“Obviously Serie A is a priority because we've won it two years in a row and it's a priority to win it again, but of course we're delighted to be in the Europa League."

Carlos Tevez has not scored a goal in Europe for four years, but Conte has yet to give the striker any assurances as to whether he will be able to try and end that drought on Thursday.

"It's me who decides," Conte said. "Of course I will discuss it with Carlos, but the final decision is mine.

"We're trying to preserve him from a physical point of view, due to a tendon and adductor problem. Since being suspended against Napoli he's played two games, over 55-60 minutes.

“Carlos is an important player for us. We'll see what I get from him in training in the morning."

Angelo Ogbonna returns to Conte’s squad after injury, but Andrea Barzagli is still out, while Mirko Vucinic remains a doubt as Juve look to remain on course for the Europa League final inside their own stadium.

Meanwhile, Lyon coach Remi Garde said it would be an "upset" if his side were to overturn the first-leg deficit at the Juventus Stadium

"We're here to believe in it, and we believe in it a lot," he told his prematch news conference. "It certainly would be an upset if we go through, because we would have done something that many people would have doubted before the tie.

“I think that if we show the same spirit to last week in the 90 minutes tomorrow, we can put ourselves in a position to create an upset."

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