Antonio Conte has backed his side to handle the pressure of a charged Trabzonspor home crowd at the Huseyin Avni Aker Stadium and finish a job that was started with last week’s 2-0 win in Turin.
With a two-goal deficit to chase, Hami Mandirali’s men, who chalked up their first Super Lig win of 2014 at the weekend, will be able to count on the support of a feisty atmosphere in a tightly packed 25,000 capacity ground.
But after coming through previous hostile environments unscathed, most notably last year’s Champions League win over Celtic at Parkhead, Conte believes his men have sufficient experience to block out any distractions and achieve their goal of a spot in the Europa League last 16.
Speaking to the media in Trabzon, the 44-year-old began: “When you score two goals at home without conceding you definitely hold a slight advantage. But we know we’ll be up against a side boosted by 25,000 fans.
“When teams come to Juventus Stadium they can feel the presence of our fans and that’s how it will be for us tomorrow. We’ll aim to be the best on the pitch and get through to the next round. It’s not the first time we’ll be playing in this type of situation, so we’re prepared and have plenty of respect for our opponents.”
Conte moved on to brush off suggestions that the Bianconeri would perhaps try to sit back and defend their lead, insisting the team’s mentality has always been geared to push for victory whatever the circumstances.
“We’ve come here to play our own game and certainly won’t be defending our advantage. It’s not part of our mentality. They’ve got great quality in forward areas, but we want to dictate the game, also because scoring a goal would more or less give you a downhill run towards qualification.”
“We’re facing this competition with enthusiasm and every player in the squad will play his part along the way. Those who played in Turin did well but I’m convinced they can do even better.
"These games enable us to enhance our international experience and we need to tackle them in the best possible way. So there will be plenty of changes, essential given the heavy fixture schedule.”
The press conference drew to a close with a question on the referee’s performance in last week’s Derby della Mole success, with Conte electing to remain philosophical on the issue.
He concluded: “Last year, against Genoa, I had strong words to say about the actions of referees and it was a moment I don’t look back on fondly. I apologised and since then I’ve completely changed my attitude, also because I’m convinced our referees are among the best in the world. We need to be polite and respect the job they do.”