Antonio Conte has called on Juventus to put last weekend’s resounding triumph over Roma to the backs of their minds and focus exclusively on overcoming a “tough” Cagliari side on Sunday afternoon.
The Bianconeri are currently sitting pretty at the top of Serie A after a 3-0 success over Rudi Garcia’s men took them eight points clear in the race for this season’s Scudetto crown.
But Conte knows that his men must continue to keep their foot on the accelerator if they are to ultimately prove successful in achieving their primary goal of a third successive league title.
Speaking to reporters in Vinovo, the 44-year-old said: “We need to keep showing consistency. The win over Roma is now forgotten about, it’s part of the past and it would be very dangerous if that weren’t the case.”
“Dangerous” was a word that Conte also used when speaking about this weekend’s opposition, Cagliari.
Widely tipped by many to struggle at the start of the season, the Rossoblu’s solid displays under the stewardship of Uruguayan coach Diego Lopez have enabled them to approach the second half of the season harbouring aspirations of breaking into the top ten.
And Conte is under no illusions regarding the potential threats that lie across the park, saying his men will need to pay particular attention to the counter-attacking moves that proved their undoing last time out.
“Cagliari are a tough, solid side. We were made aware of this last season when, through two counter attacks with Sau and Ibarbo, we conceded a penalty and a goal. Few teams who fight for survival possess such a strikeforce, a midfield where Conti pulls the strings and a solid defence that features an Italian international in Astori. They’re strong and we need to take this fact on board, thus making tomorrow a little less difficult.”
A win at the Stadio Sant’Elia on Sunday would see Juventus break their record of ten straight league successes, established in 1932. Yet whilst expressing his pride at the team’s imperious form, Conte remains focused on the bigger picture.
“Records are there to be beaten. This year we’ve outdone ourselves with respect to previous seasons. We’ve moved on to ten consecutive triumphs and now can write another page of history, but it’s the final goal that’s more important than any statistic.”
The suspension of Andrea Barzagli means the Bianconeri will be forced into a defensive reshuffle in Sardinia, with Conte confirming the media’s inkling that Martin Caceres could be the one to get the nod.
Meanwhile there was good news concerning the progress of Simone Pepe, who seems to be nearing a permanent return to action after intensifying his preparations in Vinovo.
“Caceres represents an excellent solution, he’s always done brilliantly when called upon. Pepe appears to be on the right track and is stepping up the intensity in training. I’m happy both for him, I know how much he loves playing football, and us, as we’ll soon be able to welcome back an extra weapon.”