Antonio Conte believes tomorrow night’s Italian Super Cup final between Juventus and Lazio will produce an evenly-matched affair as both sides go head-to-head for the first silverware of the 2013/14 campaign.
Speaking to the media in Rome, Conte said: “I wouldn’t say there’s a favourite for tomorrow’s encounter. Despite winning here 2-0 in the league, I think we deserved better in both the reverse fixture and the Coppa Italia. Having said that, hats off to Lazio who claimed two draws and a victory off us last season. I hope the best team on the night wins.”
The 44-year-old leads his team into the first official fixture of the season after just three days of work on the training ground following a full midweek calendar of international fixtures.
But despite expressing his disappointment at the lack of adequate preparation time for such an esteemed encounter, he insists there will be no excuses once the players cross the white line.
“Having just three days to prepare for a game like this certainly doesn’t leave you jumping for joy, but the same also applies to Petkovic. Both teams are on a level playing field and we’ll make no excuses. Of course, I would have preferred to have seven days to prepare, because we’re playing for an important trophy.”
The Bianconeri’s final workouts in the capital have, however, been made more productive by the generosity shown by Roma in allowing them to use their Trigoria training facilities.
Conveying his gratitude, Conte said: “I would like to thank Roma for allowing us to train here. I’d also take this opportunity to make an offer: when they play against Torino, we’ll host them at Vinovo to repay their hospitality.”
In his first press conference since the team’s return from the US Tour, the Bianconeri supremo was asked his thoughts on the progress of new arrival Fernando Llorente following the striker’s opening appearances in the black and white stripes.
Speaking in glowing terms of the “hard-working” Spaniard, Conte expressed his belief that Llorente’s complete range of qualities will come to the fore once he regains match sharpness and fully adapts to the team’s style of play.
“We know Llorente well and were lucky enough to bring him in on a free transfer. He hasn’t been in Italy for long and joins us after a season in which wasn’t involved. It’s the equivalent of being injured for a year and it’s inevitable that a few difficulties will be encountered. He’s working a great deal and is trying to get into tune with our mentality and way of playing. That’s the most important thing as far as I’m concerned.”