Juventus take on Olympiacos tomorrow needing a better result than Sporting Club Portugal to seal their spot in the knockout rounds of the Champions League. Manager Massimiliano Allegri spoke to the media ahead of the game, updating his squad’s fitness status.
“Gonzalo Higuain will play tomorrow, because he’s fine physically and mentally. Tomorrow Mario Mandzukic will be available, but there are two problems I’ll have to evaluate tomorrow.
“One is Gianluigi Buffon and the other is Miralem Pjanic, so if they play, good, if not another two will play.
“Pjanic has muscular fatigue and Buffon has a calf problem, so I’ll have to evaluate them tomorrow because I can’t risk playing a player and then having them miss a load of games.
“If Gigi doesn’t play then Wojciech Szczesny will play, so we’re covered, but tomorrow is a lot more difficult and important than Napoli was.”
On the importance of the game -
“Tomorrow is the first objective of the season, there’s time to recover in the league but tomorrow we don’t have time to recover, because there will be no rematch after tomorrow.
“We need to win otherwise we risk going out, we can’t wait for the match in Barcelona [against Sporting].
“It’s a complicated game because we’re coming off a really tough game against Napoli, and we already lost a first place once when we went to Sevilla with the wrong attitude.
“So tomorrow is a game where we have to be very attentive, very patient, because Champions League games aren’t easy to win, especially away from home.
“So it’s a complicated game for us tomorrow, a game we have to face with great respect, especially mentally, without thinking about what could happen in Barcelona.”
On his defensive line-up for tomorrow -
“No, I haven’t decided yet. At the back, with Giorgio Chiellini out, Daniele Rugani or Mattia De Sciglio will play.
“It’s not about playing three or four though, it’s just about the characteristics of the players. In Naples we played with four in midfield, but the difference was that Blaise Matuidi was on the outside and Mandzukic wasn’t there, or rather there wasn’t a more attacking winger.
“On the other side was Douglas Costa and in that game he could give us advantages and play one-on-one, then he also sacrificed a lot in the defensive phase, a clear sign that he understands what Italian football is, what the DNA of Juventus is.
“We can’t mess around tomorrow. It was a beautiful night in Naples, because for the first time we went there as I’d say… almost lambs to the slaughter. and so I’m happy for the lads.
“It has to be normal though, so tomorrow we think about Olympiakos and then from Thursday we turn our attentions to Inter. You can’t go from euphoria to depression, we have to live normally.
“The norm is that Juventus have to win games to get to the end, to win leagues, fight for the Champions League - which is a lottery - and try to win the Coppa Italia, because in 10 days we’re playing in that.”
On Paulo Dybala and if he will play tomorrow -
“We played four days ago, so we’ve had plenty of time to recover. We have plenty of time to recover for the match with Inter too, and some players have played less than others.
“Tomorrow is another important test for Dybala, because he’s a player who can’t be content with what he’s done, he has to demand much more from himself.
“That’s true for everyone, but him even more so because he has extraordinary qualities and he needs to get back to his best in terms of performances, regardless of goals.
“He’s an important player, and one who should be decisive in this match tomorrow.”