Juventus have arrived in Croatia to take on Dinamo Zagreb tomorrow in their second Champions League Group H fixture. Their hosts tomorrow lost 3-0 away to Olympique Lyonnais who lead the group, while Juve drew 0-0 at home against Sevilla in the first round of games.
Manager Massimiliano Allegri addressed the press today in the lead up to the match tomorrow.
“Let’s take three points, then we’ll see [for the rest of the group].
“We take it one game at a time. At the moment we don’t know how many points it’ll take to finish first and second, we just know we have a difficult match tomorrow because it’s always difficult to play in Europe, winning games away from home is never easy.
“We have to deal with tomorrow in the right way, and above all take home three points with our performance.”
On who will be playing tomorrow -
“Could Mario Mandzukic and Marko Pjaca start? I haven’t decided on the formation yet, but it’s not just the two players who played for Dinamo who could start tomorrow.
“Tomorrow’s choices will be made on conditioning first and foremost, as well as according to the match and those that will be on the bench will need to help out, because I’m sure they’ll be needed tomorrow as in all other games.
“Tomorrow is also the sixth game that we’ll have played in quick succession, and it’s normal that right now some might be a little bit tired, because a cycle like this usually happens once a year.
“It happened last year, where we were playing three or four games with two days between them.
“So tomorrow is match we have to face with great care and concentration, especially given the fact we have 95 minutes to take the win home.”
If Patrice Evra would be an option for the defence -
“Evra could be an alternative, but he could also play from the start, because Alex Sandro has played five of the last six games.
“It’s normal that Evra could play in the three at the back, in Giorgio Chiellini’s position because they’re both left-footed, or at least he could be one of two centre-backs.
“As for the midfield three, tomorrow we have Hernanes, Sami Khedira and Miralem Pjanic. Three midfielders, three names.”
On the subject of star signing Gonzalo Higuain -
“Higuain will play tomorrow. It’s normal that Higuain has different characteristics to Mario Mandzukic and we must learn how to know him, the lads who go onto the pitch must learn how to know him.”
How has the club started in the Serie A according to him -
“Right now we have 15 points in the League after six games, we’ve played some games well and others less well.
“But the thing I want to say is that everyone has this illusion that Juventus must win every game 3-0. I think though that Juventus must get our feet back on the ground and be practical and solid.
“The fact is that to win games you have to work, sweat, toil and play well.
“But good play goes independent of whether you win or lose a game, even if you win by five you have to improve if you played badly.
“That’s the thing that bothers me most, because this illusion bring superficiality, and superficiality leads to errors.
“The proof is on Saturday in Palermo… The team definitely didn’t have a good game, but I know that, we all know that, the lads first and foremost.
“But last year in Palermo we won the match 3-0 where we scored two late goals in the 90th and 94th minute.
“The year before - and my memory doesn’t go back any further than that - we won 1-0 with Alvaro Morata scoring with 15 minutes to go.
“At the moment Juventus have won the matches Juventus had to win, and we have to return to being practical as we should be and not deluded.
“We shouldn’t be distracted by this notion that we have to win every game 3-0, because anyone who thinks that is deluding themselves. Football doesn’t work like that.
“In the end, the strongest team wins, and to win you have to be the strongest during a game, a League campaign or a season, you can’t think you’ll play seven games in a row and be perfect technically in all of them.
“I understand that there have been games - and I agree with you - that the team has played poorly, but there will be some games where the team plays less well, the games where you have to play what seems like two or three matches to win a game.”
Having said that Juve, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid were alike, did he have any regrets saying that?
“Absolutely, I’ve never been deluded because I don’t live with illusions, I think I’m a very practical and pragmatic person.
“Then in the end it doesn’t matter what you think of yourself, but what you do. At the end of this season, on May 31, they’ll write who was first. Next year you won’t remember who came second, you’ll remember who won.
“Two years ago, in the Champions League final with Barcelona, it’s not like you remember ‘if Tevez had scored…’. Barcelona won. Done. Finished.
“In 10 years they’ll write ‘In 2014-15, Juventus won [Serie A], Juventus won the Coppa Italia'. What remains is who wins, so you have to be practical.
“I’m not delusional, I said I’m convinced that this squad is on the levels of those teams, but we can’t delude ourselves into thinking that we should win every match 3-0, because everyone struggles.
“Real Madrid struggle, Barcelona struggle. If we won every game 3-0 then it would be easy, but it’s not like that.
“So, if we get our feet back on the ground, in the sense that we know that to win you have to work as hard as normal in football, we can get to the end and win, or fight to win.
“But if we keep this delusion that we have to win every game 3-0, then every time we come off the pitch at half-time and it’s not 3-0 there will be disappointment and it’ll be like failure.
“That’s not to question what I said, by the way, that this squad is on the level of the top four teams in Europe.
“Who has been deluded? No, I mean in general. There’s a general atmosphere. It’s the same as last year’s speech, in fact last year we had 12 points after 10 games. It’s the same.
“I think in football you have to take things a step at a time. We’ll do that tomorrow, and we’ll work to try and dominate the game, trying to play well.
“To play well you have to improve every day, working on ourselves to improve.
“It’s normal that we have to detach ourselves from what is said, because maybe Juventus had a great transfer campaign, but a great transfer campaign doesn’t translate to winning every match 3-0.
“It’s that simple.”