Juventus will return to action tomorrow after their brief winter break, with a clash against Genoa upcoming. Manager Massimiliano Allegri urged his players to focus on the task at hand and not what leaders Napoli were doing when asked if it was an advantage playing second.
“I don’t see it as an advantage. The only advantage any team can have is winning games. If Napoli continue to win, they will always be a point ahead of us. We can do nothing other than keep winning.
“We know that for the Scudetto, we’ll have to do something extraordinary, because Napoli have 51 points and we’ve already put together two more points than at this stage last season. Juve are having a strong campaign, but Napoli are like the hare whizzing ahead and right now we’re forced to chase.
“We need to stay calm and be patient, because the moment of truth will be in the head-to-head clashes coming up in April. That is where we must be on our best form.”
Club legend Gigi Buffon continue to be out and it’s now mathematically impossible for him to break Paulo Maldini’s Serie A appearances record, and Max was asked if he would recommend to the captain to return for another season.
“Gigi will be at our disposal next week and return to being the starter. Fortunately, Wojciech Szczesny has done great work during this period.
“I’m in no position to give advice to Gigi, I’m sure he knows what to do. He is a player now and needs to focus on the present, not what he might do in June.”
The injury situation is still pretty dire for the Bianconeri, with Paulo Dybala, Juan Cuadrado, Claudio Marchisio and Benedikt Howedes all still out.
“Mattia De Sciglio is available and ready to play. Cuadrado needs to be evaluated on a daily basis, because he has this inflammation that keeps flaring up.
“I have a doubt between Douglas Costa and Federico Bernardeschi to start. At the back, it’s between Andrea Barzagli, De Sciglio or Stephan Lichtsteiner. I don’t have many other choices to make, unless I use two midfielders and all four forwards, but that might be unwise!
“Daniele Rugani had gastroenteritis for a couple of days, but he’s recovered now and he’s fine.”
Genoa will prove a challenge and Allegri wants the team to stay focused.
“We’re all coming back from 15 days without games, so we need to play this match with intelligence, with our minds first and legs second.
“It’s important to resume where we left off, because this year we haven’t done well after Serie A breaks, losing to Lazio and Sampdoria. Genoa have kept four clean sheets in a row and conceded only three since David Ballardini took over.
“They defend very well, have good quality in midfield and are very strong on set plays. We’ll certainly have to suffer tomorrow, but what counts is bringing home the three points. We have to win, even if it’ll be very difficult.”