Antonio Conte believes Juventus will have to be at their very best to see off buoyant front runners Roma in Sunday evening’s return to Serie A action, but has played down the importance of the encounter as far as the destiny of this season’s Scudetto title is concerned.
The reigning champions approach the top-of-the-table clash with a five-point lead over the Giallorossi and could gain a significant early grip on pole position with a positive result tomorrow night.
But Conte, who cited Roma’s “conviction” as their strong point, maintains that plenty more twists and turns lie ahead in this year’s title race regardless of the final outcome at Juventus Stadium.
Speaking to the media in Vinovo, the 44-year-old began: “It’s a game worth three points, just like every other one we play. A lead of eight would be important, but if we didn’t keep moving forward, it would represent a mere illusion. Both teams will want to win and the pitch will show us who has the greatest desire and best tactical setup.
“Roma’s conviction is normal for a team that’s unbeaten in 15 games. It happened to us in the first year, when we had teams like Milan, Inter and Napoli ahead of us. Now it’s Roma who have us in their sights and we’ll need to be good to hold onto top spot.”
The Giallorossi have raised eyebrows in certain quarters with their formidable charge to the summit of Serie A under the management of French tactician Rudi Garcia.
But Conte insists their imperious form comes as no surprise, believing the club’s structure, recruitment policy and coaching staff to be ready to scale new heights after enduring a number of false dawns in recent times.
“Roma’s journey is very similar to the one we embarked on three years ago, when I arrived and Luis Enrique had joined as their manager. We have won two Scudetto titles and two Italian Super Cups, while Roma have been less fortunate and perhaps didn’t make the right choices.
“But let’s not forget that they’re perhaps the team that has made the most investment, changing many players every year whilst working to a serious project. Everything goes unnoticed at Juventus, as if it was all straightforward, but we’ve actually done a remarkable job.
“Like me, Garcia arrived to take charge of a team that had endured two forgettable seasons, but has done brilliantly to immediately settle into a complicated environment. When I spoke to him while we were in Rome for the Super Cup, I immediately realised that I was dealing with a shrewd person with clear ideas.”