Antonio Conte surprised Juventus reached Champions League final

Antonio Conte has expressed surprise that Juventus reached the Champions League final in the first season since his exit.

Conte left the club last summer after leading them to three straight Serie A titles, having said "this Juve side is good enough to reach the last 16 of the Champions League or the quarterfinals at best."

Juve had crashed out in the group stage during Conte's final campaign, but his replacement, Massimiliano Allegri, led the club into Saturday's final, where they were beaten 3-1 by Barcelona, as well as winning the league and Coppa Italia.

Conte, who now coaches the Italian national team, said he was encouraged to see Serie A clubs doing well in both the Champions League and Europa League, with Juve in particular having exceeded his expectations.

"For Juventus, just like for Napoli, Fiorentina and Torino, this was a positive season," he told a news conference in Coverciano. "Italian football had been a little forgotten in recent years, so I hope this is a starting point that will bring us back to having Italian clubs in semifinals and finals on a regular basis.

"Juve in particular had a really great season -- it surprised me as I didn't expect them to reach the final so soon. I did know they had a lot of quality but I assumed it would take two or three years, but they did a very good job and the credit has to go to the players, to Allegri and to the management."

Conte also insisted he will not leave his job as Italy coach, despite the threat of another match-fixing investigation.

"Periodically, rumours come out," said Conte, who had been given a four-month match-fixing ban when in charge of Juve in 2012. "I remember being at the Italian federation a few months ago and maintaining I would carry out my job to the end -- I don't think I need to state the same things again every two months.

"I am happy with the path we have taken. It's a difficult one but I want to work. But the whole situation for me is painful. It brings me a lot of pain -- they even searched my home, which was the beginning of the nightmare.

"It's been four years now and I hope that we can clarify the situation as soon as possible. We need to wait and have faith, and let the lawyers talk."

He added: "My name has been linked to several clubs, but my contract will last until next July and it never crossed my mind to abandon Italy. I chose out of my own will and I will stay until the end.

"There are certainly positives in the many changes of managers [at Serie A clubs] -- a new manager can bring fresh enthusiasm -- but also many negatives, as that interrupts a programme of work that has already started."