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Allegri: Gigi deserves the Ballon d’Or

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Manager’s pre-match comments ahead of key Scudetto clash

SSC Napoli v Juventus FC - TIM Cup
Gigi Buffon and Massimiliano Allegri
Photo by Francesco Pecoraro/Getty Images

Juventus take on AS Roma in the nation’s capital tomorrow in a game that should settle the destination of the Serie A title. Ahead of the game, manager Massimiliano Allegri cautioned his side to be patient.

“This will be the first time we can clinch the title regardless of other results, so it only depends on us. It won’t be easy, as it’s a big game between two teams with top players who are chasing their respective targets.

“If we do it this weekend, good, otherwise we’ll think of the Coppa Italia Final and then the next test. There’s no rush, games have to be played in the moment. Roma and Napoli deserve praise for their campaigns, as it’s a battle in Serie A and their results have been extraordinary.”

Both Claudio Marchisio and Sami Khedira are out injured and new permanent signing Medhi Benatia will start against his former club.

“Seeing Khedira in the Coppa Italia Final or against Crotone next week is impossible. We’ll evaluate him day by day to see about the Champions League Final.

“I am happy that we signed Benatia on a permanent basis. He had some muscular problems, but is an extraordinary player. In terms of defence, Roma have one of the best sides in Europe.”

Juve have another big game midweek as they will take on Lazio in the Coppa Italia Final on Wednesday night.

“In the last three months I have changed from five to eight players per game. The important thing is to have at least two who play regularly. In attack I have four and we’ll see tomorrow if I leave one out or start all four.”

There have been questions about Francesco Totti and his imminent retirement.

“Everyone has talked about this except for him. When he speaks and decides, then we can comment. He illuminated football for 20 years, in Italy, Europe and the world.”

Allegri also sent a message of congratulations to Antonio Conte who clinched the Premier League title yesterday with Chelsea.

“I have to compliment Conte for what he’s done, as it was not easy to join a foreign league and win straight away.

“We have many Coaches who have won abroad, so the Italian school of management is excellent. The culture and tradition of football are very good, as proved by the four World Cups won by the Nazionale, the players who foreign clubs come to pick up and the meticulously-prepared tactics.

“Building play is part of the culture and tradition of Italian football.”

What is the difference for Juve this time around in the Champions League final?

“The difference now is that two years ago we didn’t expect to be in the Final, whereas this year there were more expectations around us.

“We need to get there with a relaxed approach, as we have some important games to play first. At the right moment, three or four days before the Final, we’ll prepare.

“We can win the Champions League and you need belief for that.”

How about Gianluigi Buffon, who is being spoken about as a Ballon d’Or winner if Juve win the European title?

“Gigi deserves the Ballon d’Or regardless of the Champions League. He deserved it in previous years too, having won so many titles and the World Cup.”