Antonio Conte reiterated the importance of focusing on one game at a time during this afternoon’s Europa League press conference, banishing any title talk before outlining his side’s desire to clinch a European semi-final spot.
Bolstered by a 1-0 lead from the first leg in France, the Bianconeri will look to secure their safe passage through to the competition’s final four when they host Lyon in front of a capacity crowd at Juventus Stadium tomorrow night.
Doing so would make Juventus the country’s first semi-final ambassadors in seven years, a “prestigious” feat in the eyes of Conte.
The 44-year-old said: “We’re here to talk about the Europa League quarter-final return leg and as far as I’m concerned the league doesn’t exist today. It would be prestigious for Juventus to reach the semis, it’s been seven years since an Italian team got to that stage.”
In such a crucial moment of the season, Conte says his rotation policy will take a back seat as he aims to send out the starting XI best suited to tackling the challenge posed by Remi Garde’s men.
“I’ll look to pick the best team that will enable us to get through, playing those who can give us the best guarantees from a physical and psychological point of view.
“A manager’s job is very difficult because winning is the only thing that counts. When you win you’re right, otherwise you’re in the wrong. We’re paid to make decisions and that’s what we do, looking to gain the best possible result.”
The manager concluded by answering individual questions on the conditions of Mirko Vucinic, Paul Pogba and Carlos Tevez.
“Vucinic is steadily improving. He’s had a tough year due to injuries, but now he’s regained his fitness. Pogba has made giant strides since joining Juventus. I think he’s improved physically, technically and tactically, but he can and must continue to develop.”
“We’ve looked to manage Carlos’ playing time in this recent period. After the defeat against Napoli he played 55 and 60 minutes in the following games. He’s had a tendon problem and fatigue in his adductor muscle. I’ll watch him train tomorrow and speak to him, then make my decision.”