In a triumphant return to the J Stadium, Juventus put away a defiant Chievo side 2-0 today to move nine points clear at the top of the Serie A table. A brace from Gonzalo Higuain extended the Bianconeri lead over Roma who play tomorrow.
After the game, manager Massimiliano Allegri spoke to the media and the first topic was all about Tuesday’s Champions League clash with Barcelona.
“We have to feel ready, as this is a quarter-final and with all due respect for Barcelona, we have to play believing we can go through. We’ll need to be at our best both when attacking and defending.”
Barca slipped to a defeat against Malaga today with Neymar seeing red, but the manager is not reading anything into it.
“Tonight’s result is irrelevant, because Barcelona are accustomed to playing this sort of fixture. We were coming off a couple of tough games and it was only natural we’d be a little tired this evening, so in my view this was one of our toughest games of the season, as we had used up so much energy with Napoli.
“We are in good shape. Higuain did good work on his fitness levels while on international duty. We have to face the next few weeks with enthusiasm and the desire to go all the way. There’s no point sitting here thinking we’re playing against Barcelona – we have to play and that is all.
“From tomorrow we think about Barcelona, but only because it’s the next game. The next game is always the most important.
“When you have Leo Messi, Neymar, Luis Suarez and Andres Iniesta, not to mention the others, it’s rare you get an off night. We have to be on point, ready to attack at the right time and defend when it’s necessary.”
Is Mario Madzukic being saved for the Tuesday game?
“He had two training sessions over the last couple of days, I’ll see tomorrow if he’s in good enough condition to play. It was important tonight that I was able to rotate the squad and ensure we have some fresh legs on Tuesday, while still getting results. That is fundamental.”
The manager was also questioned about Juve’s defensive style, and it not being ‘beautiful’.
“Football is very simple, you have attacking and defending. You need both and there’s no shame in being good at defending, in fact it’s just as beautiful as a great attacking move.
“I am happy for those who have spectacular football, but if I want a spectacle then I’ll go to the circus. I want three points. I have talented players, but that’s not enough, as some games are rough, others are more physical, there are some matches within a match.
“I am not annoyed by these comments, if anything they make me smile. There are some games where you have 35 per cent possession and create seven or eight scoring opportunities. Some games you have 70 per cent possession and have three shots on target. So which is better?
“These are all numbers and statistics that have meaning to a certain degree.”
The Catalan club’s manager Luis Enrique had joked that he’d want Allegri to rest four players on Tuesday - who would the Juve manager ask for his part to not play against the Bianconeri?
“Well he can rest Messi, Neymar, Iniesta and Suarez. I really like Luis Enrique, he’s a lovely guy and I’ll be glad to see him on Tuesday.”