Antonio Conte says he will continue to rotate his starting line-up as he bids to maintain his squad’s energy levels throughout a congested domestic and European fixture schedule.
After claiming an important three points against Verona in last weekend’s 2-1 win at Juventus Stadium, tomorrow’s trip to face the Gialloblu’s inter-city rivals Chievo will constitute the Bianconeri’s fourth game in 11 days.
And with three more testing encounters to follow ahead of the international break on 7 October, Conte says he will be forced to ring the changes but remains confident that those called upon at the Bentegodi will be up to the task.
Speaking to the media in Vinovo, the 44-year-old began: “We’ve only had one day in which to prepare for the game, as yesterday was a warm-down for those who played on Sunday. I’ll continue to rotate the side because we’re in the middle of an important run of games, with Torino, Galatasaray and Milan coming after tomorrow’s encounter.
“It’s not easy because facing three games in such a short space of time means you have to take certain risks. Having said that, it’s right to do so as I’ve always gained positive responses from those I’ve asked to come in.”
Despite establishing an impressive record across the top five European leagues against Verona – 35 shots on goal – Juventus were only able to convert two of these against a visiting side that appeared content to sit back and frustrate.
And Conte claims his men will have to adapt to the difficulty of breaking down teams that adopt cautious, defensive approaches when lining up against the reigning champions.
“We’ve noticed that the opposition often change the way they play when they come up against Juventus. It’s difficult because you find yourselves facing teams like Verona who man mark up to eight of your players, leaving just Barzagli and Ogbonna free. It’s not easy to play football in this way, even though we had plenty of opportunities to score.
“Whoever we come up against always plays the game of their lives and alters their game plan to stop us from playing. This will be another obstacle in our quest for the title. It will be extremely difficult to retain our Scudetto crown this year.”
With plenty of chances being fashioned at one end, the media’s focus has now shifted to the other half of the pitch, pointing particular attention to the two consecutive goals conceded from set piece situations against Verona and FC Copenhagen.
“We’ve gone a goal behind in the last three games and I hope it doesn’t become a habit. The last two have come from dead ball situations - we need to improve and make our defence our most lethal weapon.”
An undoubted weapon of the Bianconeri’s season so far has been new arrival Carlos Tevez, whose equaliser against Verona made it four goals in his first six competitive appearances in the black and white stripes.
But Conte hinted the Argentine will also need to take a breather at some point before expressing his belief that his back-to-back Scudetto winning side will be able to cope with the absence of their mercurial frontman.
“Carlos is doing an excellent job and has definitely brought us added character and substance, but let’s not take anything away from the players who have won two Scudetto titles without him. My style of play doesn’t depend on individuals and it never will.”
Staying with the subject of the final third, Conte suggested that Sebastian Giovinco, who is yet to start a game this season, could be ready to come into the starting line-up in the next few games.
“Seba has done very well whenever he’s come on and is a fine player who couples quality with pace. He’s part of the pool of five strikers and will be considered when I think the moment’s right.”