Saturday, August 17, 2013

Conte hits back at Llorente criticism

The Italian coach insists the Spaniard must be given time to adjust to his new surroundings and feels there are no favourites for the Supercoppa against Lazio

Juventus coach Antonio Conte has defended summer signing Fernando Llorente following criticism of the striker's pre-season form.

The Bianconeri failed to secure a victory in their warm-up clashes despite the acquisitions of Llorente and Carlos Tevez, but Conte insists the Spain international needs time to adjust to his new surroundings.

"Targetting the difficulties of a single player is wrong as we play as a team. Llorente arrived three weeks ago and is working hard," the 44-year-old told reporters at a

press conference.

"He's trying to get into our system. There ought to be respect and not just criticising someone to create controversy.

"Knowing my players gives me the most confidence. In that respect, I am very relaxed. I have guarantees regarding their professionalism."

The Italian champions take on Lazio in the Supercoppa on Sunday, and Conte has warned his side face a tough task against Vladimir Petkovic's men.

"I don't think there are any favourites," he continued. "The match arrives at a difficult time for both of us, but we're even with each other.

"I have great respect for Lazio and her coach, so I have no preference over which player I would rather not face.

"Hats off to Lazio who claimed two draws and a victory off us last season. These are two strong teams and either side can win this silverware.

"We've finished a month of preparation together and I completely trust my men. I won two league titles with them."

Finally, Conte ruled that winning a successive Supercoppa would be a huge achievement, tipping his men to overcome their initial difficulties.

"The international break wasn't pleasing, but Petkovic prepared under the same conditions. There are no excuses," he concluded.

"It is certainly an important trophy for everyone and I do not want a Juventus victory to be painted as routine and a Lazio victory to be considered amazing."