Juventus got off to a good start to the season last weekend, beating Fiorentina 2-1. Their upcoming opponents Lazio won 4-3 in a wild game at Atalanta, having almost relinquished a three-goal lead. The Bianconeri will attempt to silence a raucous crowd celebrating their home opener on Saturday.
Manager Massimiliano Allegri, speaking at a pre-match press conference, was asked about the Champions League draw that took place yesterday, but insisted that his priority with Juve was the next game, which is at the Stadio Olimpico against Lazio.
“The only draw that is of interest to us right now is that which took place in July for the Serie A, which has pitted us against Lazio this weekend.
“The Biancocelesti have started strongly, winning away against Atalanta in Bergamo, which is never an easy place to go, scoring four goals and showing a very good physical condition. Tomorrow we’re playing at 18.00 CEST, so it’s going to be very hot and a tough match, but we need to do everything to bring three points back to Turin.”
The manager did go on to comment about the Champions League though -
“Returning to talk about the Champions League, Sevilla is the only team in the last 40 years which was won the same trophy [the Europa League] three times.
“How will we play them? I don’t know how we’ll play Sevilla, because if I’d known that I’d have already seen the draw, I’d have seen it before the start of the season.
“Otherwise I’d have to watch every match from all the 32 teams competing in the Champions League.
“No, I don’t know how we’ll play them. [Jorge] Sampaoli is a great Coach, he has different characteristics from [Unai] Emery.
“They’re a good team, but we’ll talk about it later. There’s the international break, we’ll go on holiday then we’ll discuss it when we get back.
“It’s nice, because after the holiday there are seven games one after the other.”
Allegri mentioned by name three players who would not be in the squad for Rome -
“There are three players who won’t be on the plane, namely Zaza, who’s in London and has the possibility of joining West Ham, Marrone, who’s also departing the club, and Bonucci, who’s missing for personal reasons.
“Even with Leo out, I’ll start with three at the back tomorrow, which could change during the course of the match. My main doubt is who out of Pjanic and Lemina starts in front of the defence. Miralem has returned to training and is in decent shape.
“Meanwhile up front, Higuain is getting very close to peak condition, even if he had to take things a bit easier for two days this week due to fatigue. Mandzukic will play from the first minute tomorrow.”
While Allegri is seven-for-seven against Lazio with Juventus, he is not taking tomorrow’s opponents lightly -
“Lazio is fundamentally a team that plays on the counter-attack as that certainly suits the likes of Lulic, Felipe Anderson, Kishna, Lombardi and Immobile.
“It’s very important that we don’t allow the match to become fragmented because Lazio are very dangerous when hitting on the break. They’re a good side who had mixed fortunes last term, but impressed on finishing third the season beforehand. Inzaghi has assembled a strong team with talented youngsters and this time around they’ll be competing for a top-six berth.”
He also spoke about the perceived defensive frailty seen so far -
“There are times in a league season when you concede more often than others. For example, early on last term we let in quite a few goals, but then at the turn of the year we kept clean sheets when on another day we might not have.
“The unpredictable nature of football is what it makes it so beautiful, but nonetheless we need to be on our guard more often during games, especially when the opposition are taking set pieces.”