Massimiliano Allegri says Juventus need “a positive result” at Sporting CP - “a win would see us through, a draw moves us forward”.
The Bianconeri are in Portugal for the second match of a Champions League double-header, and the Coach spoke in the pre-match Press conference this evening.
“Qualification tomorrow would be a gift for the fans, ourselves and everyone,” Allegri said.
“Tomorrow is a game where we have to come out with a positive result, a win would definitively see us through, a draw moves us forward.
“They’re a tough team who defend very well, and who play differently at home. They made it difficult for Barcelona, and the victory tomorrow would be coming out with a positive result.
“We need to play a great match, with humility and attentiveness, as well as game management, understanding when and how to play.
“The team has to stay calm until the game is over, we have to flick the switch to display the qualities and characteristics that we need to win the game.
“That means attentiveness, technique and competitive nastiness. When the game is over we have to flick the switch back, we can’t be angry and alert 24 hours out of 24.
“That’s the great ability the squad has to achieve, because we’re playing every three days so we have to take advantage of the time between games to recover physical, and above all mental energy.”
Allegri was also asked about the form of Paulo Dybala, who has just one goal in his last seven games for the Old Lady.
“He’s ready to play tomorrow, he put in a good performance in Milan, and he’s growing in terms of performance, which is the most important thing.
“He can score from dead balls or from open play, the important thing is that he plays as well as he did in Milan.
“He took an extraordinary touch on his right foot and then slipped it through for Higuain, from which Gonzalo scored a great goal.
“Then there was the second goal where he came inside and dummied it, so at the end of the day Paulo is always decisive.
“There are moments where he can be better or worse, but that’s part of every player’s season.”
The Coach was then asked why Mario Mandzukic always plays, and responded in a rather humorous manner.
“Mandzukic is a player with character,” Allegri said.
“He could play as a central defender, and in my opinion he could even play as a mezzala. Goalkeeper, no.
“[Stefano] Stuaro is good as a goalkeeper, so that could be a solution. We do have two who are among the best in the world though [Gigi Buffon and Wojciech Szczesny] so I’m lucky to have them.
“With regard to Mandzukic, he’s an eclectic player who has the will and determination to play anywhere, and that’s why he’s such an important player.
“That’s one of the reasons that he plays a lot, because leaving aside his competitive nastiness, which can make him seem a bit gruff, he’s a great player.”
Allegri was also asked who could play at right-back tomorrow, with Stephan Lichtsteiner ineligible and Andrea Barzagli likely to miss out.
“Barzagli? It’s difficult. The solutions are Sturaro, [Mattia] De Sciglio and [Juan] Cuadrado.
“If Cuadrado plays at full-back we’ll put someone in front of him, which could be [Federico] Bernardeschi or Mandzukic, with Douglas Costa on the left, otherwise we could play with three midfielders, two trequartisti and one striker.
“The players who have arrived are good signings, both for now and the immediate future.
“Bernardeschi has arrived, and he’s a young lad, Douglas Costa is a young lad, De Sciglio is a young lad… let’s not forget that [Marko] Pjaca will be back with us soon.
“The club has worked very well to improve the quality of the squad, because improving the quality wasn’t easy, it’s difficult to improve a squad which reached the Champions League final.
“The club has improved the quality of the squad though, which allows me to rest some players in certain games.
“Could we play 4-3-3? It’s easy to play 4-3-3, because all that has to happen is for Dybala to play mezzala, then we can play 4-3-3.
“Dybala usually ends up acting as mezzala at certain points when he plays, and when he does the team does well.”