Pogba and Lichtsteiner: Antonio Conte-style players

Posted by Mina Rzouki

Getty ImagesThe play of Paul Pogba, left, and Stephan Lichtsteiner, right, has the future looking very bright at Juventus.

Several Juventus players excelled in the Supercoppa match against Lazio, but what became abundantly clear was just how many 'Antonio Conte' players there were out there on the field. Determined, hungry and downright mean, the likes of Arturo Vidal, Stephan Lichtsteiner and Paul Pogba have proved their warrior-like ability.

For the directors, attitude is almost as important as physical skill and Beppe Marotta and co. were determined to create a balanced dressing room ripe for a winning mentality. Two players in particular excelled on Sunday night: Pogba and Lichtsteiner. Both are different men on and off the field; both are hungry for success and both continually seek perfection despite Conte's continuous screams from the touchline.

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"What's the difference between Paul and the other boys? He has 80% more talent and works a lot," was the explanation Papis Magassa provided when quizzed about the French international.

Pogba was never quite sure whether to opt for football or table tennis; that is until Ronaldo burst onto his television screen in the 2002 World Cup. The Brazilian's wicked ways with the ball and mesmerising skill struck a chord with the young Frenchman who opted to follow in Ronaldo's route and ditch table tennis for the world's most watched sport.

Physically Pogba was able to contend and challenge, but emotionally, the boy suffered with the absence, spending days longing for his mother. "It was hard, but I wanted to become a professional at all costs," the midfielder told Tuttosport, even if that meant lonely nights in a hostel.

Moving to Manchester United was a dream and while most would be content with the knowledge that they have reached the pinnacle of success, Pogba wanted more. "It doesn't make any sense to stay in Manchester just to say 'I play for Manchester United' if I'm always on the bench." Adulation was the least of his concerns, he didn't want to look like he made it, he wanted to actually make it even if it meant leaving what is thought to be the best league in the world to go to a 'racist country', to quote Sir Alex Ferguson.

Despite youthful mistakes, such as arriving late to training, Juventus accepted the problems that come with youth and opted to judge the player by his skill while simultaneously working on his attitude. Pogba was always going to be an easy player to control because despite his ego, he has an insatiable appetite for glory and will not stop until he is the best in the world.

Captaining the French U20 side to glory in the World Cup, Pogba won the tournament's best player award. "The very presence of the France captain out on the pitch was enough to command opponents' respect. Pogba's attributes, from his intimidating physique, fearless tackling, tireless running and the ability to read and determine the pace of the game, made the 20-year-old the team's undisputed leader," read the FIFA.com article.

Back in Italy, the player continues to astound with his skill and presence. It only took him two minutes to change the whole face of the Supercoppa game against Lazio as he netted the opening goal. His character coupled with his physical skills has ensured Europe's top teams' interest. With Arsenal sniffing around, Beppe Marotta does not even want to acknowledge the interest; Pogba is a firm part of Juve's future and is simply unsellable.

Meanwhile, Stephan Lichtsteiner, the motor that keeps on running, stunned onlookers with a man of the match performance on Sunday evening. Assisting, scoring and penetrating, the Biancocelesti simply could not contain the Swiss engine that roars inside the player's gut.

Despite the full-back's wayward passing and lack of composure at times, the player's best quality remains his winning mentality. Success is of the utmost importance, even if it makes him the most hated man on the pitch. "I am very well aware of the fact I'm not the nicest guy on the pitch, but I'm not paid to be friendly towards the opponents or the public," explained the Bianconero to Swiss newspaper Le Matin.

Pragmatic in his approach, Lichtsteiner is not a fan of flair but of the final result. He doesn't care how it's done, only that his tasks are carried out. Even his relationship with religion is a pragmatic one. Asked in that same interview if he prays before a game and the player was clear. "No. My relationship with God is not about football." The Swiss doesn't believe in divine intervention or of on-pitch miracles. He, like his coach, believes only in hard work to get the necessary results.

With Juventus about to kickstart their season on Saturday, Lichtsteiner will be looked upon to provide that winning mentality and irrepressible energy on the right hand lane. Having developed both his tactical intelligence and precision, the Bianconero, despite Conte's screams, is still and continues to be Juve's best on the wing.


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