Antonio Conte says his men cannot afford to let their guard down after witnessing Hellas Verona fight back from two goals down to snatch a 2-2 draw from this afternoon’s Serie A encounter at the Bentegodi.
The final outcome was particularly disappointing given the Bianconeri’s firm grip on proceedings during an exceptional first-half, leaving Conte to rue two points dropped when the Bianconeri appeared firmly on course for their 14th victory in the last 15 Serie A encounters.
Speaking to Sky Italia after the final whistle, the 44-year-old said: “There are no explanations for what happened today. Games last for 95 minutes and it’s not enough to be in full control for the first half.
“We were punished twice from dead ball situations and we need to be a lot more determined, otherwise we risk jeapordising all the good work we’ve done up until that point.
“We’d already seen this happen against Inter and we need to be a lot more focused. It’s a shame to have conceded in the last minute during a game in which, apart from the goals themselves, Verona didn’t cause us any major problems.”
The manager insists he will use the aftermath of this afternoon’s draw to assess who will be in line for a starting place in next week’s home clash with Chievo, insisting there is no established pecking order when it comes to picking his team.
“I’ll make my assessments after today’s match. Whoever’s in the best shape will play, there’s no guaranteed starting roles here. The most important thing is that everyone has the desire to give me a selection dilemma. Playing every seven days gives us time to recover, but motivation must always be maximum.”
One positive from today is the fact that nearest challengers Roma failed to make ground on the Bianconeri following a goalless draw in the Rome derby, but Conte refuses to take any comfort from the final outcome in the capital.
“It’s a missed opportunity, regardless of results elsewhere. The win was only ours to lose and some soul searching is required. We still haven’t won anything. Hunger, determination and ruthlessness have enabled us to emerge victorious over the past two years. We need to show the same this year, otherwise it will be tough to keep winning.”