Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri expects a tough encounter against Inter on Sunday in keeping with the Derby d’Italia’s rich history.
The match does not appear to be as pivotal to the destiny of the Serie A title as it might have been, with Inter’s poor run following the mid-season break resulting in them tumbling down to fifth in the standings.
Juventus beat title rivals Napoli 1-0 earlier this month to claim top spot for the first time this season, a 15th straight Serie A triumph that banished any lingering memories of a stuttering start to their title defence.
That streak was checked by a 0-0 draw at Bologna last time out but Tuesday’s battle back to 2-2 against Bayern Munich in the Champions League showed similar confidence to that displayed when Juve won the first leg of their Coppa Italia semi-final against Inter 3-0 in Janaury.
The return encounter comes on Wednesday but Allegri is focused entirely on the forthcoming home Serie A game at this stage.
“Inter are a physical side and it will be a tough game,” he told a pre-match news conference.
“We must play very well technically, passing the ball quickly and doing much beter than we did for most of Tuesday. Regardless of the league table, it remains the Derby d’Italia.
“We need to win tomorrow’s game, as it would mean one less victory that’s required to lift the Scudetto.
“Inter started well but have tailed off in recent times. Let’s not rule them out though.”
Nevertheless, Allegri conceded Napoli and Fiorentina are Juventus’ main rivals in the title race, while suggesting Roma could come back into contention..
“There are 12 games remaining, talk of this season’s Serue A being over are wide of the mark,” he said.
“The likes of Roma and Fiorentina can still work their way back into the running, so we need to keep going.
“Napoli are not in crisis in my book. They lost to us, drew against Milan and Villarreal [in the Europa League] and lie a point behind us.
“We’re working to win what would be the club’s fifth consecutive Scudetto, an achievement that would go down in history.”
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