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11 Apr 2013

Conte: “Applause all round”

“The players and fans deserve applause for their efforts. There’s a lot more work to be done in Europe and time is required to close the gap on the top sides”

Despite the quarter-final double header with Bayern Munich proving to be a bridge too far for the Bianconeri, Antonio Conte could only speak glowingly of his team’s efforts throughout this season’s memorable Champions League campaign.

Speaking to the media after tonight’s 2-0 reverse at Juventus Stadium, the 43-year-old admitted his personal assessment of the team’s potential in Europe was spot on.

Conte said: “We’re where we thought we’d be. There’s a great deal of work to do, but we were already aware of that. Now people don’t believe that two or three signings will enable you to win the Champions League next season. Time is what’s required.”

“Bayern aren’t just technically strong, they’re also physically potent. They’ve got young players and will remain at the top of European football for many years. It’s inevitable there’ll be a gap when coming up against such an organised club and a team that has reached two Champions League finals in the last three years.

“I’ve congratulated the lads, because I think winning the Scudetto and being among the top eight sides in Europe represents an extraordinary achievement. Of course, nobody likes losing, but you need to recognise the superiority of our opponents. We did everything we could have done. Congratulations go to the team and also the fans who rewarded the lads with the correct tribute.”

With the Bianconeri deprived of several key figures for significant spells of the current campaign, Conte explained that his hand has often been forced when choosing his tactics and starting line-up.

“I had to put the 4-3-3 to one side the minute Pepe got injured, the only player who enabled me to play that type of system. The team’s condition? We’re fine, but there are certain players who have played almost every game. I’m referring to Barzagli and Bonucci, given that Chiellini has missed practically half of the season through injury.

“When you’re missing a player like Giorgio it becomes difficult to rest the other two. We approached this game without Giovinco and Vidal was suspended. I reiterate, we did everything we could and the lads deserve only applause for their efforts.”