Juventus take on AC Milan tomorrow in the Coppa Italia quarterfinals, looking to avenge an earlier defeat at the San Siro and a penalty shootout loss in the Italian SuperCup during the winter break. Manager Massimiliano Allegri, who was relieved of his duties at Milan before Juve snapped him up, spoke to the media about the upcoming game.
“When you play one-off games you have to be balanced, these matches are decided by incidents. Juventus can’t live by reactions, Juventus must be balanced. It’s not like after Florence we have to throw everything away and before Florence everything was fine.
“This team doesn’t gain or lose its value in a week, the team has a value. Then there are times when, on the pitch, our opponents will prove better. The League season is long and at the end the strongest team wins. If we’re the strongest at the end, then we’ll definitely be at the top of the table.
“Incidents don’t decide Leagues, it’s down the strength of the team and balance. Before Sunday’s game, Juve were at the top of the League with 15 games won and a game in hand. So there shouldn't be this fuss about Sunday, it was a good win, we played well and we played as a team. That’s what the lads have to do.”
How about vengeance against tomorrow’s opponents?
“Revenge on Milan? I’m not here to talk about revenge, I’m here to talk about an important football match”
He went on to talk about his squad options.
“We’ll change some players, because we played a very tense and physical game on Sunday. Tomorrow night will be a final, and then we have a game with Sassuolo on Sunday. Everyone else is fine, so there will definitely be changes.
“Claudio Marchisio is unlikely to be available for the game because he didn’t train with the team as of yesterday, he did separate work.
“It’s normal though, since he came back he’s been getting better but it was expected the there would be a period where he’d have a bit more difficulty, not so much with his knee but with his muscles. He worked well yesterday, not with the team. We’ll see today, but it’s unlikely that he’ll be available for the game.”
How about Marko Pjaca?
“As for Pjaca, it’s difficult for him to play from the start. He’s a lad - a player - who is destined for greatness, because he’s always made important chances when he’s appeared. That goes for Empoli when he came on, it was the same on Sunday and in the Champions League when he came on at the end.
“When he makes these cameos he’s always available, he always has chances to score and he always does something important. It’s normal that he’s destined to grow and have a good career.
"He's a lad who needs to grow, I've said it and I'll repeat it. He's a young player with great qualities, and he's destined for greatness, but he needs to grow because he's a lad who has arrived from Dinamo Zagreb in what is a much easier League where he was the star and he could afford to take a break.
"When you get to Juventus it's different. It's normal that he has to accelerate his journey, but he's a player who will do great things.”
How about the backline?
"The defence? I have to see how Giorgio Chiellini is after Sunday's game. Leonardo Bonucci needs to play because he's been out for two months.
"I'll have to look at Stephan Lichtsteiner, but whoever takes to the pitch will be in top condition because the game could last 120 minutes."
There was some controversy at the end of the Lazio game, with captain Gianluigi Buffon photographed hugging the match referee Paolo Tagliavento.
“It’s stupidity, don’t make me say another [ruder] word. We also need to diffuse this tension against the referees.
“In Italy instead of talking about the great piece of skill from Paulo Dybala when he scored his goal, the finish from Gonzalo Higuain or the shot - which didn’t go in - that Lorenzo Insigne took from 40 yards against Milan on Saturday, in Italy you go looking for other things, never what the players do on the pitch.
“We never just enjoy football for what happens on the pitch, it’s always about wasting time looking for these things.”