After a gruelling 120 minutes against a plucky Bologna side on Thursday night, Juventus are preparing to do it all again. This time, in a mouthwatering clash with Roma. Simone Pepe’s strike against Lazio has already seen the Bianconeri silence the Stadio Olimpico once this season. And Conte is demanding more of the same as his side look to extend their 15-game unbeaten run in all competitions. 

 Speaking from a morning press conference, the 42-year-old said: “The Roma encounter represents an important testing ground. We must be prepared for the many difficulties that we will come up against. They’ll be aggressive and look to dictate the play. The game will be a meeting of the two sides who, along with Milan, have the most possession of the ball in the championship.” 

Conte should take heart from Juve’s good record against Roma in the capital, with the Bianconeri having avoided defeat at the Stadio Olimpico since February 2004. Their opponents, on the other hand, have been finding consistency hard to come by. Last week saw Luis Enrique’s side slip to their second defeat on the bounce, in which Giallorossi trio Juan, Gago and Krkic were all given their marching orders. 

 Yet the manager believes the Spaniard has what it takes to reverse the Romans’ fortunes: “In my opinion, Luis Enrique’s doing a great job. I see similarities between Roma and Juventus, for the way in which they both set up and look to take the game to their opponents. Roma have a style of play that I’m a big fan of.” 

The Coppa Italia gave Conte the opportunity to cast his eye over several individuals who have featured less frequently this campaign. A useful exercise, according to the boss: “I looked to hand an opportunity to those who have played less and I’m happy at the response. I liked what I saw from Marrone, who I had last year at Siena and showed to be ready for the present and the future. Krasic and Elia? Milos is looking to start challenging my selection and I wasn’t displeased by his performance. He showed desire and application, as did Elia.” 

 Aside from Mirko Vucinic – who misses out on facing former his employers with a thigh strain – Conte has a full squad at his disposal for Monday’s big match. While remaining tight-lipped about the Montenegrin’s replacement, Emanuele Giaccherini’s starring role in midweek has provided the manager with plenty of food for thought. 

 And Conte launched a passionate response to certain criticism levelled at the summer arrival from Cesena: “Criticise me, but don’t criticise my players. They’re like brothers to me. What I’ve read and heard about Giaccherini wasn’t right. He’s a lad with great qualities, morals and technique. But he has a normal surname, he’s worked his way up and therefore people think that he doesn’t have the characteristics to do well here with us.”