Juventus Manager Massimiliano Allegri spoke to the press ahead of his side’s Coppa Italia semi-final second leg against Atalanta tomorrow.
“Tomorrow there’s an excellent chance Marchisio will play, in principle the starting eleven could be Sunday’s, apart from one or two variations that I’ll have to see about today.”
Juventus were meant to play Atalanta last Sunday in Serie A, but the match was called-off due to heavy snow making the pitch at the Allianz Stadium unplayable.
Allegri then spoke about the future of his squad and Serie A leaders Napoli.
“As for the future, right now all of those who are part of the Juve world have to remain focused on our objectives. Then, in June, everyone will decide their own future. Right now we can’t be distracted by anything, it’s a very important season, as compared to last year we have a very strong opponent in Napoli who are putting up important numbers, that means in the League we have to do something extraordinary, after the lads have won six Scudetti in a row.
We have the Coppa Italia and the Champions League, so we don’t even have time to think about the future, we have to live the present in the best possible way.”
Allegri was asked if Paulo Dybala will play as the Argentinian international returned from injury against Torino in the Derby della Mole. In addition to Dybala, Allegri mentioned Gonzalo Higuain who is currently suffering from an ankle injury.
“He needs minutes, there’s no doubt about that, but I’ll evaluate tomorrow. Paulo will be involved in the game, either from the start or when the game is underway. Then there’s Saturday’s match which will give him extra minutes. Above all we’re missing Sunday’s game and I always say that those count, they can weigh on you. I definitely have to give Paulo minutes. Among other things he’s much better, he’s done well in training and we need him from a technical point of view.
Higuain? I’ve already said that at the maximum, he could be on the bench tomorrow. He hasn’t trained at all, he’s done two sessions on the bike which doesn’t use it much I don’t think. If he does a bit of training today, if he’s good and doesn’t have pain in his ankle he’ll be on the bench tomorrow. No more than the bench.”
Allegri mentioned Juventus’ upcoming fixtures, including the return leg in the Champions League against Tottenham Hotspurs next week.
“I have to look at today and Saturday, then we have next Wednesday, we have three important games I have to manage. We’ll face the match tomorrow in the best condition, with the best team we can, knowing that in having Khedira available tomorrow I’ll have one more alternative, then there’s also Saturday’s game.
Tomorrow, Bentancur is out through suspension so I have one midfielder less. That means I’ll have to get an idea of how many minutes one can play tomorrow, how many minutes one or two can play on Saturday. Then I’ll evaluate and decide on the starting XI. Buffon will play in goal tomorrow.”
To end the press-conference Allegri was asked whether Juventus’ Scudetto rivals and current leaders of Serie A Napoli can win all of their remaining league games between now and the end of the season.
“It would be nice if Napoli won them all and we won them all, but if they win all all of their and we win all of ours we can’t win. We have to take it one game at a time, because on Sunday I was planning to send a team out to give some players some minutes and then the snow came down and we couldn’t play, so let’s play one game at a time, face them calmly with great enthusiasm and above all great balance, knowing we have important commitments.
I repeat, this year is different because we had much more of a points advantage last year.”