Antonio Conte has warned his players of the potential pitfalls that characterise inter-city derbies and urged them to stay alert when the Bianconeri aim to extend their 18-year Derby Della Mole dominance tomorrow lunchtime at Turin’s Stadio Olimpico.
Opponents Torino have made an impressive start to the season, winning plenty of plaudits for their successful switch to a 3-5-2 system in which the qualities of current Serie A top goalscorer Alessio Cerci have been allowed to flourish.
And despite the Granata’s failure to claim local bragging rights for just under two decades, Conte cited an example from his playing days to highlight the difficulties his side could come up against when they make the short journey across the city.
Speaking to reporters in Vinovo, the 44-year-old began: “We’ve got great respect for Torino because they’re an fine, well-organised side with fine players and an excellent coach. We know that derbies are always particular types of games in which the form guide goes out of the window.
“I’ll never forget when as a player we won the Scudetto, lost both derbies and Torino were relegated. In these games the desire to overcome the opposition counts more than organisation and quality. Anything can happen and we’ll have to remain on our guard.”
The defending champions go into the encounter with their unbeaten start to the season intact following two successive 2-1 victories over Verona and Chievo. Yet while the final scorelines suggest a marginal supremacy in both fixtures, Conte insists the statistics tell a different story entirely.
“If you look back at the statistics from Verona and Chievo you will see that Juventus commanded 70 per cent possession and our opposition managed just two shots on goal from which we were punished. From our six games so far - four of which have been away from home - we’ve won four, drawn two and lifted a trophy.
“Of course we know there’s room for improvement, and we’re working towards that, but there are also plenty of positives to take. We’re aware that defending our title will be tough because whoever we face will look to stop us playing our normal game and try and catch us on the break or via a dead ball situation. We’ll need to be perfect in every game.”
Having rotated his starting line-up in recent weeks as Juventus work their way through a heavy fixture schedule, Conte is again expected to make changes with one eye on Wednesday night’s Group B Champions League clash against Galatasaray.
But whilst revealing Mirko Vucinic is nearing full fitness after stepping up his training regime, the manager kept his cards close to his chest when quizzed on tomorrow’s possible starting line-up.
“We’re continuing to assess the players’ condition and it’s right to do so because we’re going through an intense period of seven consecutive games. We always aim to be in the best possible shape for every encounter. Vucinic is improving after returning to full training and will be available for tomorrow, but I won’t be revealing anything as far as my starting line-up is concerned - I don’t want to give anyone an advantage.”