Conte: Juve lags behind Barca, Bayern

Updated: 2013-07-13 08:28

(China Daily)

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Juventus coach Antonio Conte said he did not expect the Serie A champion to close the gap on teams like Barcelona and Bayern Munich and welcomed Napoli's "undervalued" manager Rafael Benitez to Italy on Thursday.

In his first preseason news conference, Conte also highlighted Juve's "extraordinary achievement" in signing forwards Carlos Tevez for nine million euros ($11.74 million) and Fernando Llorente as a free agent.

Conte has won two successive Serie A titles in his two seasons with the club.

"In the last two years, Juventus has managed to return to what its represents, a winning team. We've regained the image that the club has always held both in Italy and on a worldwide scale," he said.

"Reclaiming our title was very difficult and doing it for a third year would represent a historic achievement, a feat Juventus managed between 1930 and 1935."

But Conte said challenging for the Champions League would be a different story, especially after Juve was outclassed by Bayern in last season's quarterfinal which it lost 4-0 on aggregate.

He warned at the time that there was a huge gap between Italian soccer and Europe's biggest clubs.

"Bayern and Barcelona have reinforced even further, so it's difficult to see the gap diminishing," he said.

"We must work a great deal on the pitch, there's no way we can think about shortening the gap through signings, the others are too far ahead. We'll bring in three players for 20 million euros, while the others buy one for 30."

Conte said former Liverpool, Chelsea and Inter Milan coach Benitez would be a welcome addition to Serie A.

"Napoli has hired a great manager in Benitez, a man who has won everything and is also underrated. I'm happy that foreign greats have chosen to ply their trade here," he said.


(China Daily 07/13/2013 page15)