Juventus are going to start tomorrow with an unlikely pairing of Gonzalo Higuain and Mario Mandzukic leading the line against Sampdoria, manager Massimiliano Allegri announced today in his pre-match press conference.
“Sampdoria won the derby, have a good squad and some important players, especially in attack with Fabio Quagliarella, Luis Muriel and Ricky Alvarez.
“We need to be aggressive, to keep a clean sheet and secure the result.”
He spoke about who’s fit, who’s not, who’s in and who’s out -
“Tomorrow Mandzukic and Higuain will start in attack. Claudio Marchisio, Kwadwo Asamoah and Daniele Rugani return. Tomorrow at least one will start, maybe two. Giorgio Chiellini is back in. For the midfield I will decide tomorrow morning.
“Marchisio will be an important return, but let’s not forget he has been out for six months. If he plays just half the games coming up, I’ll be happy, but we must be very careful not to risk a relapse.
“Paulo Dybala will have more tests next week. We’ll have to make do. Alex Sandro, if needed, can play in attack and he showed that today in training. We have to think about it.
“Tomorrow Marko Pjaca will have more tests to see how the bruising of the bone is progressing, but he certainly won’t be back before the break for international duty. The same goes for Dybala.
“Norberto Neto is playing tomorrow, as Gigi Buffon resumed training after two well-earned days of rest.
“Higuain is adapting to the team, sacrifices himself and naturally we must seek him better with stronger assists. With Mandzukic it’ll be the second time they play together and they need to seek each other out, help each other. There are different characteristics to Higuain-Dybala, but they can comfortably be a complete partnership.
“Like Juventus, I think he is doing well. It was unthinkable that after nine rounds Juventus would already win the Scudetto. It’s a journey and it ends when victory is mathematically certain. In the Champions League we had a good win at Lyon and are top of the group.
“Let’s say right now we are doing OK and getting results, then of course performances will improve over time.
“Tomorrow we need to bring home the victory, that is all that matters.”
Allegri was asked if his side had lost the intensity that we’d seen last season -
“Determination can be just in the way of passing the ball. Against Milan we had the ball for most of the game, but didn’t pass it quickly enough. We could hardly be aggressive with Milan if we had the ball, so it was just an issue of using it better. It’s something we need to work on. Criticism is fine, but I don’t see reasons for concern.
“Our focus has to be winning tomorrow and therefore staying at the top of the table ahead of the showdown with Napoli.”