Football

Conte masterminds Scudetto success for Juventus

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Conte celebrates after securing the Scudetto. (©GettyImages)
Conte celebrates after securing the Scudetto. (©GettyImages).

Antonio Conte has worked miracles at Juventus. Appointed after guiding Siena to promotion from Serie B - his second such achievement after Bari in 2008-09 - the former captain and idol returned to Turin last summer, and quickly outlined his clear set of objectives: to bring the good times back to the Bianconeri.

"I always wanted to go to Juve. For me, it's a homecoming," said the Italian in his inaugural press conference as head coach of the Old Lady. "The main objective is to get Juventus back challenging for honours.

"Juve's history demands this and through work, 100 per cent commitment and the right attitude I will look to bring this club back to where it deserves to be and where the fans want it to be."

Fast forward 12 months and the club are already celebrating Scudetto success with one match to spare, and are facing up to the realistic prospect of securing a memorable domestic double, with the Coppa Italia final to look forward to against Napoli, at Stadio Olimpico in Rome on May 20.

Even more impressive, is the fact that Juventus remain unbeaten in Serie A this season - an achievement that is built on a solid foundation - having conceded only 19 goals and kept a staggering 21 clean sheets.

Back-to-back seventh placed finishes prior to this year's swift ascent to the top of the calcio mountain, were attributed primarily to a number of defensive issues, which have been efficiently rectified by Conte.

Marked as a disciple of the traditional 4-4-2 formation, it was a surprise to see the arrival of deep-lying playmaker Andrea Pirlo last summer, who has a tendency to play between the defence and midfield lines, and so would seemingly struggle to fit into the old system.

But, Conte has proved his development as a tactician since his disastrous three month spell at Atlanta - his only previous managerial experience in Serie A - by successfully integrating Juventus' now customary 4-3-3 disposition. It's a fluid formation that has delivered untold success, and been effectively altered into a 4-2-4 or 3-5-2 depending on the opposition.

The 42-year-old has been likened to a mini Marcello Lippi; his intelligence, quick-thinking and motivational influence has brought about a renewed sense of enthusiasm in the current crop of Juventus players, that has been lacking ever since Calciopoli, and the club's relegation to the second tier.

Conte's experience of lower league football has grounded him as a manager, and his approach since arriving in Piedmont has been a breath of fresh air. Having wowed the whole of Italy with his magnificent methods, Conte could now continue to do so in Europe, after successfully negotiating Juventus' return to the Champions League next year.

Debate is still fresh as to whether the club's 2011-12 triumph represents their 28th or 30th Scudetto - the former being the official number based upon the two titles Juventus had revoked because of the Calciopoli trial in 2006 - but, for the manager the dispute is clear enough.

"What number Scudetto is this? Number one, because it's the first I've won as a coach," said a defiant Conte earlier this week.

Regardless of the outcome of their last two matches - a home league encounter against Atlanta, prior to the Coppa Italia showpiece final - Juventus have delivered beyond all expectations this season.

But, perhaps the greatest part of this fairy tale so far, is the fact that the squad - like Conte - is still in a period of transition, of development, and has plenty of room for improvement.

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