Juventus are in Bergamo tomorrow to take on an Atalanta side in fine form, and manager Massimiliano Allegri spoke with the media this afternoon. He started off talking about Gonzalo Higuain who roared out of his slump midweek coming on as a second half substitute and swinging the Champions League tie in the Bianconeri’s favour.
“Higuain is an important player and always has been, even if he was on the bench the last couple of games. Every season is different to the next. It’s already in the past and you must immediately reboot to start all over again.
“There are players who prove that, those who remained from the first Scudetto. Gonzalo mustn’t rest on his laurels. He must have the grit and ambition to fight it out with all the best in the world and he has what it takes to do that. As he is an important player, it’s up to him to do it and not be complacent.
“Higuain is playing tomorrow. The other day he came on against Olympiakos with a different attitude, but that’s the attitude he must have throughout the season and in every match.”
Allegri went on to give more squad news.
“In attack, I just need to evaluate Juan Cuadrado tomorrow, as he had a knock to the foot. It’s one between Cuadrado, Douglas Costa and Federico Bernardeschi.
“I will make some changes tomorrow, as certain players need to rest. Giorgio Chiellini has a bandage on his head, but that won’t stop him playing. Unless something else happens, he will play.
“Fortunately, the break for international duty is coming up, so we can get Sami Khedira back. His knee inflammation has flared up again and he won’t be there tomorrow. Miralem Pjanic and Claudio Marchisio are out, we hope to have Benedikt Howedes after the break for international duty.
“Tomorrow we’ve got Rodrigo Bentancur and Blaise Matuidi, while we could also use Stefano Sturaro or Kwadwo Asamoah there. I am not worried, as the players are currently ‘resting’ and will be fresh later on in the season.
“Bentancur has character to spare. He needs to improve in various areas that he will do with experience. Bernardeschi has improved both physically and tactically, he’ll soon be able to make the difference from the start and not just off the bench.
“Gigi Buffon plays tomorrow, though I am very happy with what Wojciech Szczesny is doing.”
Atalanta are doing well especially in the Europa League after hammering Everton 3-0 and holding Lyon away 1-1.
“It’s a very difficult match tomorrow, as Atalanta run hard, are going through a great period of form and it wasn’t easy for a side with no international experience to earn a draw away to Olympique Lyonnais.
“The games are never over in Bergamo, don’t forget last season we thought it was done and we conceded for 2-2. If we don’t win, then we’ll be in a bad mood throughout the break for international duty.
“We need to improve as a team, our overall standard of football, but we are at an early stage.”
The manager was also asked about his thoughts on the sacking of Carlo Ancelotti by Bayern earlier this week.
“Carletto was fortunate, as in 30 years he’s been fired only once. He is one of the best Coaches in the world and won the Bundesliga, Cup and Super Cup at Bayern Munich. He was undeservedly eliminated from the Champions League by Real Madrid last season.”