Massimiliano Allegri insists Juventus are taking the Coppa Italia seriously this season, despite their commitments in the Champions League and Serie A.
The holders face Atalanta in the first leg of their semi-final clash on Tuesday before a hectic run of fixtures in February begins with a home meeting with Sassuolo on Sunday.
A trip to rivals Fiorentina and the first leg of the Champions League last-16 tie with Tottenham follow, before the derby against Torino and a league game versus Atalanta prior to Gian Piero Gasperini’s side visiting for the second leg of the Coppa clash on February 27.
Despite the difficult games to come, Allegri is adamant Juve will not allow their focus to slip when they travel to Bergamo.
“The cup remains an important objective of ours, along with the Champions League and Serie A,” he told a news conference on Monday.
“It’s a competition that shouldn’t be downplayed. We don’t play for a thousand trophies but for three: Serie A, Coppa Italia and the Champions League. We always want to get to the final.
“It’s in Juve’s DNA to have the desire to win every day. Our next goal is now tomorrow’s game to set us up well for the return leg. Then we will think about the league and the Champions League.
“Getting to a fourth straight final would be a great result, but first we have to think about going to Bergamo.
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“Atalanta have become a very tough team in our league and they deserve a lot of credit, as does their coach. He is an opponent to be respected. They are doing very well in Europe, in the league and also in the cup, they also have some excellent youngsters.”
Juve extended their winning streak in Serie A to six matches with a 2-0 victory over Chievo on Saturday, although Napoli’s 3-1 win over Bologna lifted them back above the champions to the top of the table 24 hours later.
Allegri was delighted with the way his players showed patience in Verona before second-half goals from Sami Khedia and Gonzalo Higuain earned the three points.
“It was a hard win against Chievo,” he said. “It’s always difficult to play against teams who bring 10 men behind the ball and play in their area, so the guys did well against a nine-man Chievo side to stay patient, and keep their cool to find the right time to score when there wasn’t a lot of space.
“The longer this type of game goes on, the more complicated and difficult it becomes to score.”
Allegri was also thrilled to see Higuain get back on the scoresheet, with his previous league goal coming in the win at Napoli on December 1.
“I’m happy that Gonzalo Higuain found the net in our last match, it’s good to have him back scoring,” he added. “I also think that we have improved a bit as a team as well. Against Genoa after the break we played well until we scored, and then we switched off a bit in terms of game management.”
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