Juventus manager Massimiliano Allegri lashed out at what he called the excessive criticism leveled at his League-leading side. In his pre-match press conference ahead of the game against Lazio, a match which marks his 300th in the Serie A, Allegri claimed that it was ridiculous to expect the Bianconeri to win the Scudetto without breaking a sweat.
“The Scudetto race isn’t over and never was. Anyone who thought it was in the opening weeks was gravely mistaken. Usually the side in second place in Serie A gets at least 80 points, so it’s impossible to win it more than two weeks in advance. We’ve got to get it out of our minds that Juventus should win every match by 3-0. No! Juventus have to win while suffering.
“We have a game in hand, then the Champions League and the Coppa Italia quarter-final with AC Milan. Our strength must be to deal with moments in a balanced way, whether they’re going well or badly. Right now we are on track. If someone thought we were going to have 57 points from 20 games, they needed to see a doctor. AS Roma and Napoli were built to win, so were Inter Milan, despite people trying to hide it.”
On the point about the constant denunciation -
“Juventus have won the Scudetto of getting criticised, at least. Considering the results this team has achieved over five years, it’s extraordinary to have done that, not ordinary.
“Naturally after five years the bar will be raised even more, but we must understand that it takes everyone to come together and achieve something even more extraordinary. It’s not as if we’re eighth in the table, as we were last term after eight rounds. The lads have achieved their objectives this season.
“I am accustomed to criticism, as I got insulted when I was top of the table with Milan as well, so I got used to it. When I leave, maybe you’ll have someone more likeable up here instead.”
He went on to talk about the goals for the remainder of the season -
“So let’s focus on improving the quality of our football, otherwise we won’t reach the Champions League Final in Cardiff, and to get our players back to full fitness.
“We lost four games, but they were all very different. The only one we got totally wrong was against Genoa, when we conceded three goals in 25 minutes.
“If we want to go all the way in every competition, we must know that nobody will give us anything and every match we have to prove that we’re better.”
On Sunday’s opponents Lazio -
“I have to compliment Simone Inzaghi, as Lazio have a lot of quality and are well-organised, so it’ll be a tough match for us.”
Allegri was lucky to survive a fine or ban from the League’s organizing body after appearing to shout insults at the fourth official last weekend -
“In Florence I was being man-marked by the fourth official and I couldn’t shake him off, so after 90 minutes I got a little annoyed. In my many years in Serie A, I’ve never said a word against referees.”
He ended with a squad update, and talking about his reason for using the much-maligned 3-5-2 formation.
“Claudio Marchisio has a slight muscular problem, he’ll be available again on Wednesday.
“Patrice Evra is relaxed. He’s on his way out and trying to find the best solution, he’s training and we’ll see what happens.
“We are playing with four at the back. Dani Alves is in the squad, his condition isn’t great yet, but with Alex Sandro suspended he can play half-an-hour if needed.
“I can confirm the defence will be Stephan Lichtsteiner - Leonardo Bonucci - Giorgio Chiellini - Kwadwo Asamoah.
“I have some doubts in midfield, as that has to do with Miralem Pjanic’s position. Hernanes could play in front of the defence. Mario Lemina is back from the Africa Cup of Nations because he’s injured, he’ll be evaluated and then we’ll see when he can play again.
“This season we’ve played more often with four at the back, because only four players are from the old guard and really know the 3-5-2 well. The others are all new.
“Our idea is to make a step forward so we can challenge the major European clubs and play them on even terms.”