Tuesday January 12 2021
Pirlo: 'Genoa changed with Ballardini'

Andrea Pirlo confirms Gigi Buffon and Giorgio Chiellini will start for Juventus in the Coppa Italia. ‘Genoa’s intensity changed under Davide Ballardini.’

It kicks off on Wednesday at 19.45 GMT and is a one-off game, to be decided after 90 minutes, extra time or even penalties.

“It’s an important match, the start of a new competition for us,” Pirlo told JTV.

“At the start, people act as if the Coppa Italia is of no interest, but once they get to the end, everyone enjoys it. In order to get there, we have to win tomorrow evening.”

Genoa were beaten 3-1 earlier this season in Serie A, but have since fired coach Rolando Maran to bring back Davide Ballardini.

“We saw a few games, the intensity of Genoa changed after Ballardini took over from Maran, they are more of an attacking team, show more energy. It’s going to be a very difficult match to play, hard-fought, and we want to win.

“I don’t think the overall approach will have changed much, though, so they’ll try to defend, probably with five men at the back, trying to go on the counter. We have studied Genoa and are preparing well.”

Alex Sandro, Matthijs de Ligt and Juan Cuadrado are still out of action with COVID-19, with Paulo Dybala injured, Weston McKennie and Federico Chiesa in doubt with knocks.

“We are evaluating who is in good shape and the injured players who won’t be able to participate. I can say Chiellini will return, as he’s been training with us for a while now, and Gigi will start in goal.”

Pirlo was asked how 2021 has started for the Bianconeri, who went into the Christmas break on a 3-0 home defeat to Fiorentina.

“That game was the bolt from the blue, but it can happen when we play this many games in quick succession. We came together after that and showed above all mental strength, determination and the desire to bring home the result at all costs.

“We rediscovered concentration rather than those ups and downs during a match. We clarified what our objectives were and tried to focus only on ourselves.”