Only Juve win will do in Copenhagen, says Conte
Published : 16 Sep 2013 00:31:52Rss feed
Juventus coach Antonio Conte admits a Champions League final appearance is beyond the Italians but says he won't accept anything less than a win away to Copenhagen in their Group B opener Tuesday.
Juve returned to the competition last season after a three-year absence and impressed on their way to the quarter-finals where eventual winners Bayern Munich handed them a lesson in clinical football.
Bayern ran out 4-0 winners on aggregate, leaving Conte with a bitter taste and lamenting the Old Lady of Turin's financial frailty compared to more robust rivals like Real Madrid, Barcelona and Chelsea.
Conte has since strengthened his squad with two aims -- claiming a third consecutive scudetto for the first time since a record five-title haul in the 1930s, and going further in Europe this time around.
The addition, notably, of strikers Carlos Tevez and Fernando Llorente will allow Conte to rest key players when required.
Juve have seven games in the next month and with the luxury of rotating his squad he expects nothing less than three points in Denmark.
"We need to start on a positive note on Tuesday, with a win," Conte said Saturday following the 1-1 draw at Inter Milan.
Mirko Vucinic, who partnered Tevez up front at the San Siro in Conte's preferred 3-5-2 formation, could start on the bench at the Parken Stadium in place of either Fabio Quagliarella or Sebastian Giovinco.
With Llorente still short of full match fitness -- "we can't forget he's not played for a year, but I'm following his progress closely," said Conte -- Quagliarella is likely to make an appearance at some point in the Danish capital.
Although used sporadically in Serie A last season, Quagliarella proved his worth in Europe.
He scored a late equaliser in a 2-2 draw against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge this time last year and then in a 4-0 rout of Nordsjaelland.
The former Napoli striker also opened the scoring to send Juve on their way to a 3-0 defeat of Chelsea in Turin and netted the second goal in a 2-0 home win over Celtic to seal Juve's place in the last eight.
It remains to be seen if Vucinic is primed physically for Tuesday when the Danes will be looking to destabilise the Italians on their way to an upset.
What matters most for Conte is the final result: "It would be a mistake to underestimate Copenhagen, because the Champions League always brings out the best in teams.
"We know how important it is to start the group stage well. That's why we'll be going there to win."
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