Monday, December 11, 2017

Any mistake could cost us dear – Allegri demands focused Juventus

Massimiliano Allegri has no intention of allowing Juventus to become distracted by the Champions League as the Serie A title-holders chase an unprecedented sixth successive Scudetto.

Since losing 2-1 at Fiorentina last month, the Bianconeri have won five consecutive league games without conceding a goal to sit seven points clear at the top of the table.

They open this weekend’s round of matches by welcoming Palermo to Turin on Friday, before attention turns to the Champions League round-of-16 tie against Porto, starting with the first leg at Estadio do Dragao next Wednesday.

“We need to keep any thought of that [the Porto match] out of our head… because [Palermo] is a game we need to win,” Allegri told a news conference.

“League titles depend on winning these matches.

“Since [new head coach Diego] Lopez took over at Palermo they’ve had a win, a draw and a defeat at home.

“They’re a more organised team, who don’t allow space so we have to be technically quick, aggressive and above all aware that we can’t slip up.

“There are fewer than 14 games to go until the end of the season, and any mistake could cost us dear.

“So we need to have the right attitude. We’ll see whether the ball goes in [the goal] or not, but we can’t get our attitude wrong. The lads know that and they’re very responsible.

“We’re aiming for three points. We want to go all the way in the league, Coppa Italia and Champions League. Our approach needs to be spot on.”

Questioned on the fitness of Miralem Pjanic, who sat out the 2-0 victory over Cagliari on Sunday, Allegri replied: “Pjanic is fine, at least… I usually get a call from the doctor in the morning, and when I see this doctor’s [telephone] number come up…

“This morning the call never came, so I said to myself ‘the doctor must have died this morning!’

“He [Pjanic] is available.”

Discussing his other selection options, Allegri said: “Claudio Marchisio played well against Cagliari, but he’s still working his way back to full fitness. 

“I still need to decide whether Sami Khedira will feature and for how long if he does.

“Giorgio Chiellini and Andrea Barzagli are on the mend. I’ll find out at the weekend if they’re available for Porto.”

The clash with 18th-placed Palermo will also mark Leonardo Bonucci’s 300th Juve game.

“He’s a pillar in our defence and keeps improving,” Allegri said of the 29-year-old defender.

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