You see me smile? Well I am just laughing ’cause you don’t know what’s next

Juventus manager Antonio Conte believes his side are in the right frame of mind for tomorrow’s championship restart. The Bianconeri will face relegation-threatened Lecce at the Via del Mare – a venue Conte knows all too well having enjoyed a six-year spell with the Giallorossi before completing a switch to Turin in 1991. 

Speaking from a morning press conference, Conte began: “There are always hidden dangers associated with the championship restart. We’re coming from a positive 16-game run, but we’ve been forced to stop and so there are question marks. But we’ve worked well on getting the legs going and adopting the right mindset – I’m confident.” 

After securing top flight survival last season, the Salentinian outfit have struggled to find momentum throughout this campaign, with just one point registered on home soil. Last month saw the club take decisive action to try and reverse the team’s fortunes, replacing Eusebio Di Francesco with experienced coach Serse Cosmi. But despite their lowly league position, Conte is aware of the potential threat posed. 

The 42-year-old stated: “We know that we’ll face a team who have quality in their ranks, with players like Muriel, Di Michele, Olivera, Giacomazzi, Cuadrado… Lecce aren’t performing as expected, but they have hunger for points. I expect a difficult game, but we’re Juventus and we mustn’t fear anyone.” 

The Bianconeri go into the encounter fresh from the team’s mid-season training camp in Dubai. An experience that Conte feels was a useful measure of how far his new-look side has come. He continued: “Our first objective was to win back credibility in the eyes of our fans. Having seen the welcome we received in Dubai, I’d say that it’s been achieved. Now we must maintain this credibility and this needs to be the first step.” 

Juve’s squad has recently been boosted by the loan arrival of frontman Marco Borriello. Conte now has an embarrassment of attacking riches at his disposal but is cautious not to throw the 29-year-old straight into action. 

“Marco provides an added alternative,” confirmed the manager. “However, he still needs to immerse himself in the team’s mentality and systems. He also must work hard to force his way in and gain a place in the starting line-up.” 

Borriello’s arrival will create even more competition between the strikers for places in the starting line-up. And Conte moved to credit six-goal Alessandro Matri’s contribution to the cause. 

The Juve boss concluded: “I never look at the goals, but what a player brings to the team. To get into double figures for a big team is important and I’m sure that Matri will also do that this year. He works hard and he works well.”