"Great Rossoneri performance but we made the changes we needed to at the break and didn't give them a sniff after that"
You'd need a tank to stop Juve. That's what Clarence Seedorf said, who may not have years of coaching experience behind him, but he's played and won a lot of football matches in his time. And to hear a comment like that from a great like him – who deserves only praise for the job he's done as AC Milan coach thus far – is even more pleasing.
"Hopefully we won't run into any tanks," responded Conte. "Today we saw half of one, given the excellent performance Milan put in. They were very bright, full of running and set a high tempo in the first half. We did well to make the most of a nice move through Llorente, then we tweaked our tactics at the break and doubled our lead in the second period. Hats off to Seedorf and his team. Let's not forget we drew here in my first season and lost here last year, so I was worried about losing ground on our title rivals today. Instead..."
Instead the lead over Roma has been stretched to 11 points, although the Giallorossi do have a game in hand. It was the result of a watchful display, particularly in the second half, and a few individual moments of magic, above all the swish of Tevez's right boot which produced the second goal.
"Things didn't go as we would have liked in the first half. We were too wide at the back and we had issues with our wing-backs and in the final third. My aim was to get in at half time with the score at 0-0, before making the changes we needed.
“We didn't have many problems at all in the second half and even doubled our lead through Carlitos. He's the sort of player who the hotter the atmosphere, the more he thrives. He's at his best with his back against the wall. But he's not the only one. I'm thinking of Llorente, who had a wonderful match, worrying the opposition rearguard. I'm pleased because both front pairings performed well, tonight and against Trabzonspor on Thursday."
Conte didn't just single out the goalscorers for praise tonight, but mentioned the whole squad, particularly those who are working overtime at the moment.
"There are players who haven't stopped at all like Bonucci, who hasn't been able to have a rest because of injuries to Barzagli and Chiellini. I wanted to thank him because it's not at all easy to play so many matches.
"Another guy who's played a huge amount is Pogba, who only had a fortnight's break last summer because he was involved in the Under-20 World Cup. Clearly at his age you can drop off mentally a touch, because it's not easy to maintain this level, but he's managing brilliantly well. He knows he has to give everything with me and he'll always get the carrot, as well as the stick... two metres long," concluded Conte with a smile.