Juventus
    Juventus
      04.04.2014 00:45 - in: Europa League S

      Conte: "Lads showed the right mentality"

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      The Bianconeri boss lauds his troops for stifling aggressive opponents and showing the character to dig out a win

      Antonio Conte was visibly pleased with his charges after a mature display at the Stade de Gerland. Beaming with pride as he stepped up to the cameras for his post-match media duties, the coach began by brushing off suggestions made in some quarters that his team is suffering from fatigue.

      "Personally I've never been worried. This team has never stopped working even though the games have been coming thick and fast.

      "Whoever the opposition is, when they're up against Juve they try to turn in the performance of their lives. Our opponents are always highly motivated but that's another incentive for us to keep on clearing the obstacles.

      "These lads are in good shape - you could see that in the second half against Napoli. It was a tough game for us today against a team that tried to mark us man for man in midfield and out wide, and then they had Malbranque snapping at Pirlo's heels all the time.

      "When you find yourself up against something like that you have to try and beat your man in the one-on-ones or rely on rehearsed moves to find a way through to their keeper, as Carlitos did in the opening 45 minutes.

      "In the second half they dropped off a bit on a physical level. We showed more off-the-ball movement and carved out more openings. It was a deserved win but we still have the return leg to play and our semi-final spot is not in the bag yet."

      Conte then allayed any fears about Carlos Tevez's injury, after the striker asked to be subbed off in the second period. "Carlos felt a bit of a niggle in his thigh and we agreed that as soon as it started bothering him he'd ask to come off. That's fine: the substitutes did a great job today."

      It was in the second half that the Bianconeri's maturity was most clearly on display. Lyon were still refusing to budge an inch but Juve ran no risks either: indeed the French outfit mustered a single shot on Buffon's goal. Meanwhile Vucinic and Giovinco came off the bench and combined to unlock Lyon's defence.

      The coach commented: "Giovinco is a wonderful talent and he needs to have even more belief in himself. He can make a difference at a club like Juventus. Tevez and Osvaldo both did well and now Mirko is working his way back too: we have to try and ease him back to full fitness. He knows how much I rate him. I rate all my strikers.

      "I was especially pleased with the mentality we showed tonight: we came here intent on scoring and that's exactly what we managed to do."

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