Juventus take on AS Roma on Saturday in an eagerly awaited top-of-the-table clash. The Romans have been in fine form heading into this game while the defending champions are finally stabilizing into a decent run just before the upcoming winter break.
Bianconeri manager Massimiliano Allegri spoke to the media ahead of the game keen to downplay the drama that this fixture has heralded over the last couple of years.
"Roma in recent years, along with Napoli, have been the antagonist of Juventus.
"They are a very strong team because they have great quality players, as well as being well-organised.
"Regardless of who takes to the field we will see a tough Roma, because lately they are a team that compared to the beginning of the season gives little away.
"Maybe they create fewer chances, but are more solid defensively.
"It’s a game that won’t decide the championship, but it is important for us because practically we play tomorrow with a one point advantage.
"If we are to remain top of the league at Christmas we have to get a result tomorrow, because then Roma play against Chievo at home and we will play the Super Cup in Doha."
When asked if he already his starting team in mind for the weekend -
"We are too far from the game, there is today's training and also training tomorrow morning. We play tomorrow night, so I still have time to think about it.
"I have not decided, honestly. It can be Paulo Dybala playing with Gonzalo Higuain, but Higuain and Mario Mandzukic can also play together, we'll see.
"I have to evaluate it a little bit today, but all three together is difficult.”
As far as the defence is concerned -
"Tomorrow it could be better to play Benatia, so I have yet to decide the formation in defence.
"Andrea Barzagli is better, his shoulder is better, so he has definitely completely recovered from the match against Milan.
"I won’t change the defence because of Roma, because I do not know how they will play, if Bruno Peres will be fit, I do not know who will play.
"We will have to make an intelligent game, that is careful, of great intensity and especially good quality. So the hypothesis of three in defence could be deployed."
Former Roma player Miralem Pjanic was apparently warned by his then teammate Radja Nainggolan that he would not speak to him again if he went to Juve, but this week the two have been chatting on FaceTime.
"An immediate weapon, a weapon for afterwards, or a weapon from the bench, no, Pjanic plays.
"A draw is not good because it is an important game, for us it would be important to win, but these are direct conflicts.
"At the moment we have not yet drawn at home, so it would be nice to continue with a victory.
"Also because we have two games before Christmas, a league match and the first opportunity for a trophy in the season and there will be no chance of revenge."
As is customary for this time of the year, he was asked what transfers he would like in upcoming January window -
“I’ve already written my letter to Santa, we’ll see what I get… our most important January signings will be Dybala and Pjaca.”