Juventus take on cross-city rivals Torino in the quarterfinals of the Coppa Italia tomorrow, with a berth in the semis at stake in a competition that the Bianconeri have won for the last three years on the trot.
Speaking ahead of the game, manager Massimiliano Allegri spoke about the importance of the game, refusing to downplay the value of the tournament or the opponents who knocked out AS Roma away from home in the previous round.
“No, we absolutely can not underestimate it. First and foremost it’s a derby, so the derby is always a game unto itself.
“Regardless of the injuries we have, we have an objective and that is to win, because the Coppa Italia is a goal for us, like the Champions League and the league.
“So we need to prepare in the best way, then 72 hours later we’ll have our last game before the winter break. Yes, there will be changes but not too many. Between today and tomorrow’s training sessions I’ll decide.”
He insisted that the Coppa was not a distraction but part of the team’s goals for the season.
“No, the Coppa Italia is important because we have to reach the Coppa Italia final. The Champions League is a different competition.
“The team has won three and this year the aim is to go as far as possible. Tomorrow will be a difficult game, because Torino have a desire for revenge.
“They lost badly in the league and tomorrow will be an objective for them too because it could be a way into Europe.”
Allegri went on to provide a squad update -
“As for the injured players, there’s Gianluigi Buffon, Juan Cuadrado, and Mattia De Sciglio, who worked partially with the team yesterday.
“We’ll see if he’ll be available for Cagliari, but Buffon and Cuadrado are on the way back too.
“Paulo Dybala will play tomorrow, but I don’t know if he’ll play up-front on his own or as part of a pair, with one of Mario Mandzukic or Gonzalo Higuain. One of them needs to rest because we have Saturday.
“Miralem Panic has been fluctuating a bit lately, because he plays a game then does half a training session. So he has to find consistency.
“Tomorrow we’ll have to evaluate whether Stephan Lichtsteiner will play - he trained yesterday, but we’ll have to see after that knock at Verona - or Stefano Sturaro plays full-back.
“Douglas Costa could be involved, or [Federico] Bernardeschi could play. We’re happy with his growth at Juve.
“And the final thing I’ll tell you is that [Daniele] Rugani could play.”
Juve won 3-1 against Verona at the weekend in an unimpressive performance.
“We certainly didn’t play well against Verona. The result went well, the lads did well to get the result, but tomorrow and Saturday are games where we can’t get it wrong.
“We have to qualify tomorrow, and on Saturday we need to take three points from Cagliari, otherwise we’d be throwing away everything we’ve done, we need to go on holiday calmly.”
“Wojciech Szczesny is Buffon’s heir, I’ve already said that and I repeat it. Juventus did good business in getting such a good player and bringing him in a year before Gigi stops at Juventus.
“I’m very happy, there’s a good relationship between the two of them, they respect each other both as professionals and as men, so I don’t see any problem.
“Donnarumma is a young lad who has to grow, he’s at Milan and he’s forging his path. But Juventus have Buffon’s replacement.”