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Conte struggles with the burden of Juventus's past

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

By Brian Homewood

TURIN (Reuters) - In the five years before Antonio Conte became Juventus coach, Italy's Old Lady spent one season in Serie B, employed six different coaches and suffered the indignity of group stage elimination in the Europa League.

Struggling to rebuild after the match-fixing scandal which saw them stripped of two Serie A titles in 2006, they finished seventh in the league twice in a row and failed to qualify for even the Europa League in the year before he took over.

Conte, however, complained on Tuesday that he was being judged by a different Juventus, the one which won 27 Serie A titles, were twice European champions, once European Cup Winners' Cup winners and three times UEFA Cup holders.

"The expectations on us are just too high," said Conte, whose side have to claw back a 2-0 deficit at home to Bayern Munich in Wednesday's Champions League quarter-final second leg. "It's easy to forget everything and not see the past."

Conte has worked wonders since taking over for the start of last season, leading Juventus to their 28th Serie A title unbeaten at the first attempt and now the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time in seven years.

But he said it was still too much to expect them to be able to compete with Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich, Champions League runners-up twice in the last three seasons.

"I heard people saying that our performance in Munich was Juve's worst for years," he told Tuesday's news conference.

"But we've only been working on this side for 18 months and people are too quick to forget what we have done.

"People think everything is easy, but success is never easy, you are never gifted anything in life.

JUVE'S PATH

"We have a path to follow... two years ago we weren't even in the Europa League."

Conte added: "Juventus had to be rebuilt and we have just started our journey after so many years of difficulty. Bayern have been building their team for years."

"Bayern are a skyscraper and we are a building which is only one-third complete."

The Italians were outplayed in Munich, but Conte promised his side would do better at the Juventus stadium.

"The first leg confirmed what we already knew, that Bayern have great technical quality and are physically strong and they are favourites to win the Champions League," he said.

"But we believe in ourselves and want to play differently to the first match."

"There must be great joy within us and our supporters to be in the Champions League quarter-finals. Our fans have not experienced this kind of atmosphere for a long time. If someone forgets that, then we've got problems."

(Reporting by Brian Homewood; Editing by Ken Ferris)

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/thomson-reuters/130409/conte-struggles-the-burden-juventuss-past