NEWS
Saturday February 17 2018
Allegri: 'No Champions obsession'

Max Allegri transforms Juventus against Torino, losing Mario Mandzukic and probably Federico Bernardeschi, but warns against a “Champions League obsession.”

The Derby della Mole kicks off on Sunday at 11.30 GMT, click here for a match preview.

“Next week, everyone will be available except for Juan Cuadrado,” revealed the Coach in his Press conference.

“Mandzukic has a fever, so I sent him home. Bernardeschi had a muscular problem in training yesterday, so he is at our disposal, but needs to be evaluated.

“If Bernardeschi can’t play, I’ll find someone to go upfront. We’ve got Rodrigo Bentancur, Alex Sandro and Stefano Sturaro. We’ll find someone!

“Dybala is in good condition, but not enough to start. He can probably play about 30 minutes. From next week, Blaise Matuidi will be available too. I can confirm Miralem Pjanic and Sami Khedira will start in midfield, but I have yet to decide on the third name.

“As was planned, Gigi Buffon will rest tomorrow and return against Atalanta in the Coppa Italia semi-final. Wojciech Szczesny will start.

“We were well aware going in that there wouldn’t be many players available for these two games against Tottenham and Torino, but we’re prepared for that.

“Torino haven’t yet conceded a goal on home turf since Walter Mazzarri took over at Torino, so they are a very solid side. The Derby is always an important match, a key moment in the campaign. Also, three points tomorrow would allow us to stay in Napoli’s slipstream.”

Napoli made their ambitions clear by fielding a second-string line-up in the Europa League defeat to RB Leipzig on Thursday, putting all their eggs in the Scudetto basket.

“Playing in Europe is always difficult. Napoli came up against a very good team that caused them problems,” assured Allegri.

Juve also stuttered in continental competition, fumbling a 2-0 lead to draw 2-2 at home with Tottenham Hotspur in the Champions League.

“Our chances of progress are just the same as they were before the first leg. We got a lot wrong in that game, as our pass completion rate was around 55 per cent when it is usually in the 70s. Having said that, Tottenham have for years been the most prolific side in the Premier League with a strong defence and the top scorer. They are not an easy team to face.

“The Champions League must not be experienced as an obsession, because when you have an obsession, you never win! I say everyone around Juventus ought to be very proud, because we have become stable in the top 10 European clubs.

“It ought to be motivating to face the other big sides in Europe, always remembering that a ball 5cm one way or the other can decide if you progress or not.

“The important thing now is to focus on Serie A and the Coppa Italia semi-final, because there’s a long way to go before March 6 and Wembley.

“Torino play good football and allow few opportunities to score, so it’ll be a game decided on incidents and set plays. Mazzarri has brought in his ideas and has always had good results in his career.

“The derby is always a derby, so it’s tough regardless of the circumstances.”

Napoli boss Maurizio Sarri has again been protesting at the fixture list, but Allegri shrugged it off.

“There’s always pressure, as if you play before the leaders, the pressure is to get the result, if you play after, there’s the pressure of keeping up with them. It’s like a dog chasing its tail. We are in a global football world with different games over several days to suit TV rights. If you don’t like it, then work in Lega Pro where they play once every 15 days.”

See the latest Serie A predictions and betting tips with Eurotips.co.uk