Juventus coach Antonio Conte said all thoughts of a third consecutive Italian Serie A title will be sidelined as his side focus on the “prestigious” feat of becoming Italy’s first UEFA Europa League semi-finalists in six years.
Juventus are eight points ahead of Roma in the Serie A title race with six games remaining. But a day ahead of hosting Lyon, beaten 1-0 in France last week, the Italian said Juve’s focus was entirely on becoming Italy’s first side in the semi-finals since Fiorentina in 2008.
“We’re here to talk about the Europa League quarter-final return leg and as far as I’m concerned, the league doesn’t exist today,” said Conte. “It would be prestigious for Juventus to reach the semis, it’s been (six) years since an Italian team got to that stage.”
The demands of both Serie A and the Europa League have forced Conte to rotate his squad in what is expected to be another title-winning season. But the 44-year-old is ready to stake everything on Thursday’s match in Turin. “I’ll be looking to select a side that gives us the best chance of qualifying, taking into consideration physical and psychological factors.”
Conte, however, left a question mark over whether Argentinian striker Carlos Tevez, who has suffered from a tendon problem of late, will start. Tevez was sidelined during Juve’s 2-0 defeat to Napoli 10 days ago and has been substituted in Juve’s ensuing two games, the 1-0 win at Lyon and last weekend’s 2-0 defeat of Livorno.
“We’ve looked to manage Carlos’s playing time in this recent period,” said Conte. “I’ll watch him train tomorrow and speak to him, then make my decision.”