Juventus coach Antonio Conte was asked on Monday if his Jose Mourinho-like knee slide following Fernando Llorente’s goal against Sassuolo on Monday was his Scudetto celebration. Llorente’s goal sealed a come-from-behind 3-1 victory for the visitor, which is now just one point away from sealing its third consecutive Scudetto.
“No, it was not a Scudetto celebration, as there’s still a chance for those chasing us, so we have to finish it off definitively next week,” Conte replied. “We certainly made a big step forward, but those behind us have every right to continue believing.” That being said, Conte couldn’t resist the opportunity to take a swipe at Roma coach Rudi Garcia, who on Monday suggested that Conte and his team seemed “nervous,” while calling on other teams to up their game against the Serie A leader.
Conte replied: “I hear people say Roma are doing something stratospheric. I say we are eight points ahead of Roma and playing in the Europa League semifinal. If Roma are stratospheric then I cannot find an adjective to describe Juventus. Anything Juventus do becomes almost expected. If we win the Europa League, it’ll be considered a worthless trophy. If we lose, then people will say Juve aren’t ready for Europe. When we achieve something, people act as if it’s normal administration.
He added: “I think those behind us are irritable, not us. They should be careful with what they say, as Roma and Garcia took a step backwards by feeding into the culture of suspicion with talk of ‘help’ and opponents not giving their all. If this is football culture, then it’s a step backwards.”
Juve also hosts Benfica in the Europa League semifinal on Thursday, where it is trailing 2-1 after the first-leg in Portugal.