What makes Antonio Conte a very, very good manager? Well, that could be an entirely different post in its own right, but that's not the point. Even though there are a lot of things that make Conte really good at what he does, I'm singling out one thing for the sole purpose of this game post.
This is what Conte said after Juventus' 3-0 win over Roma exactly seven days ago.
"Tonight's victory is just an important step. We've still got one more game in Cagliari to round off the first half of the season, then on with the second.
"The eight-point gap is important but we can't afford to let it pull the wool over our eyes and lose concentration. Anything is still possible, just look at how we've made up 13 points on Roma."
God I love that guy.
What I'm trying to get at, beside proclaiming love — again — for Juventus' manager is the fact that he's brutally honest. He knows exactly what needs to be said at the right time. "An eight-point lead atop the table? Yeah, that's nice, but things can go bad just as quickly as they turned good for us." That's the gist of what he said, and that's what he should have said.
Juventus are winter champions and have one game left in the first half — today against Cagliari. It's the chance to take another step forward, another step towards the big goal Conte has set his eyes on. Or, as Conte basically said after the Roma victory, just keep on winning.
I like the sound of that. Go right ahead, gents.
I look forward to be joining you all for another week of Juventus viewing before the sun rises here in California. (Well, the first part at least, not the 6 a.m. portion of it.)
UPDATE: LINEUPS ARE IN:
Juventus XI (3-5-2): Buffon; Caceres, Bonucci, Chiellini; Lichtsteiner, Vidal, Pirlo, Pogba, Asamoah; Tevez, Llorente
Juventus bench: Storari, Rubinho, Ogbonna, Peluso, Pepe, Padoin, Marchisio, Vucinic, Giovinco, Quagliarella
Cagliari XI (4-3-1-2): Adan; Pisano, Rossettini, Astori, Murru; Dessena, Conti, Ekdal; Cossu; Pinilla, Sau
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