Juventus play Manchester United at Old Trafford in Champions League Matchday 3 after dropping their first points of the season over the weekend, and manager Massimiliano Allegri pointed out that there are qualification implications from the result of this game.
“We haven’t got this month off to the best of starts but tomorrow’s game is like a crossroads for us. If we win, we’ll have one foot in the knockout stage. It’s going to be very tricky though, so we must be on our game technically.”
The manager knows a physical challenge lies ahead for his side.
“It will be a physical match and we must be highly focused. We’ll need to keep hold of the ball and use it well if we want to limit one of our opponents’ biggest threats, which are high balls. Man United are a tough outfit with a very experienced coach.
“We must be in the game at all times, for the whole 100 minutes. We have to remember not only our own match against Genoa but also the match between United and Chelsea, who equalised deep into stoppage time.”
Allegri had blasted his side for losing concentration when leading against Genoa on Saturday, but didn’t divulge too much about who he would field.
“It’s a shame we don’t have [Mario] Mandzukic available but it doesn’t seem to be a serious problem. In any case, I’d already thought about going with different attributes up front. We’ll probably play with four at the back because we want to match them man for man in midfield.”
Cristiano Ronaldo also spoke on his return to the ‘Theater of Dreams’ -
“It’s a hugely emotional thing for me to come back. When the draw was made I thought about how much I enjoyed my time here, all the trophies I won and the love everyone showed me, especially Sir Alex Ferguson. I’d like to express my best wishes to him.”
After a sending off in his first Juve game in the Champions League, he was asked if this would be like a fresh start for him.
“No, it started two games ago and it doesn’t matter if I didn’t play or if I was sent off. We have six points, we’re in a great position and I’m happy to be back. If we can win tomorrow, we’ll be virtually assured of our place in the next round and if we play the way we’re capable of and the way the boss wants us to, we can do it.
“We must show our opponents the respect they deserve, though. Man United are a great team with an experienced coach and they’re playing at home. It will be tough but we have our weapons and we’re Juve.”
After failing to score for a few weeks to begin the season, he has looked more settled in the Juve side.
“I’m adapting to Italian football. It’s different, but I’m having a lot of fun. My teammates are helping me and I’m very happy to play for this fantastic club.
“On and off the pitch I always smile. I’m happy, I feel like a happy man. I’m playing for a fantastic club, I have a fantastic family, four children and my health. I have everything.
“The rest doesn’t disturb me.”
Regarding the allegations against him, Ronaldo refused to get drawn into it.
“You’re not listening. I’m a happy, happy man. We issued a statement a couple of weeks ago. I’m not here to tell lies, I feel confident in the work of my lawyers.
“I’m having fun playing football, I’m enjoying life and I have people who take care of these things. The truth will come out.”