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Conte plays down Fiorentina rivalry

Juventus coach Antonio Conte has played down his team’s rivalry with Fiorentina ahead of their Serie A meeting on Saturday.

The rivalry between the clubs has grown since 1982, when Juventus won the title on the final day of the season ahead of Fiorentina courtesy of a fortunate penalty.

But Conte said he never felt the rivalry and believes most of the antagonism comes from Fiorentina fans.

“To be honest, I’ve never felt all this antagonism with Fiorentina when I was a player,” he said.

“We have a great respect for Fiorentina, but I think this antagonism is much more felt in Florence than here.

“Every game we face they tell us it’s the game of the season, with any opponent we face – Cagliari, Parma and Bologna or Inter and Milan.

“Better not to think like that otherwise we will become provincial while we are a great team and we need to have the attitude of a great team.

“It will be an important match because we will face a team that have been working well over the recent years, both in the transfer market and onto the pitch.

“They can surely create some trouble to any team they face, not only to Juventus, but let’s not become provincial talking about an antagonism with them.”

Of his international stars, Conte expects Sebastian Giovinco to play, while Claudio Marchisio continues to be monitored.

Mauricio Isla is unlikely to play after returning to Turin with the flu, while Stephan Lichtsteiner (neck) and Andrea Pirlo (leg) are also in doubt.

The encounter marks the first of three matches in eight days for Juventus, with the Fiorentina clash to be followed by trips to Celtic and Roma.

Conte was unhappy with the decision to schedule the Roma match on Saturday.

“I think it would have been more normal and better to have Juventus-Roma on Sunday night or even on Monday night so we could have a day more to recover our energies,” he said.

“One day more in moments like these is essential for us. I’m only asking, ‘why not let us play against Roma on Sunday night, or even on Monday night?’

“They say Juventus attract a big TV audience, so why shouldn’t we play on Sunday night?”

Fri 8 Feb, 2013
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