Antonio Conte says the Bianconeri will face tomorrow night’s pivotal last 16 return leg with “pride and passion” as they seek to prolong their journey in this year’s Europa League by overcoming Fiorentina in their own back yard.
Speaking to the media in Florence, Conte touched on the disappointment of missing out on this season’s Champions League knockout stages – but assured supporters his team will be vying to overturn the Viola’s away goal when they run out at the Artemio Franchi tomorrow night.
The 44-year-old began: “Our biggest regret needs to be our elimination from the Champions League. It should be our natural habitat and this year we weren’t able to extend our stay.
“Now we’re in the Europa League and we’ll aim to honour the competition with pride, passion and enthusiasm in order to make progress. We’ll give it everything we’ve got.”
The last of a three-game series against the Viola draws to a close with the league leaders stepping out into a challenging atmosphere in Florence.
And whilst paying tribute to the qualities possessed by a talented Fiorentina side, Conte insists his men are no strangers to the pressures that go hand in hand with wearing the black and white stripes.
“Every game in Italy is full of tension and pressure. We’re used to this and Juventus must always win, so nothing’s changed from that point of view. Fiorentina are a side composed of valuable players, Borja Valero in particular. There isn’t just one man to fear, because they’re all excellent individuals.”
After confirming that Carlos Tevez will return to the starting line-up, Conte ended with a reflection on an injury list that continues to grow following today’s confirmed absence of Angelo Ogbonna.
“This is the most critical period of my tenure at Juventus as far as injuries are concerned. They’re part and parcel of a football season, but perhaps I should have rotated the side a little more.”