With the last international break of 2018 out of the way, Juventus return to action tomorrow evening against SPAL, one of the first teams Massimiliano Allegri managed in his coaching career.
“SPAL play good football and constantly look to build. They’ve already won in Rome away, playing well there, and also won at Bologna.
“They’ve picked up some great results away from home, they’re physical and aggressive, and they recover many balls.
“We must be sincere in our approach, managing the game well, knowing they’re one of most difficult smaller sides to face because they can make you pay.”
No press conference is ever complete without Cristiano Ronaldo being mentioned.
“Ronaldo is doing well, I haven’t paid attention to the Ballon d’Or nominations but for me he would deserve to win it for what he has done. He has brought a high degree of competitiveness to training, and as a result everyone has raised their attention to detail.”
He went on to add about Paulo Dybala -
“Dybala arrived back on Thursday, he did a recovery session yesterday so the chances are that he’ll begin the match on the bench. His first goal for Argentina was a step forward for him, Paulo is constantly improving since the first year he arrived.
“This season has started very well, he is in excellent physical and mental moment, his growth shouldn’t stop but it depends on his will. He plays his best when he is playing deeper, as he is able to influence the game and finish chances created by his teammates.”
Allegri went on to provide more information on his lineup for tomorrow.
“Mattia Perin plays in goal, whilst in attack Mario Mandzukic and Ronaldo will definitely play. They have a good chemistry, like everyone behind them. Paulo and Ronaldo have played less together, but they’ll refine their understanding in time.
“With those three up top, we can express ourselves well. We’re on track to arrive in March in excellent condition.
“Giorgio Chiellini is getting better with age. We have to manage things as we have three games in a week so we’ll see if he plays tomorrow. Otherwise one of Daniele Rugani and Mehdi Benatia will start instead. Blaise Matuidi arrives back today, he needed rest so it’s likely that tomorrow he’ll start the game from the bench.
“Juventus have five of the best defenders in the world. Rugani played at Empoli and had a good game. Benatia the same in Milan. I needed someone like him in that match.
“Maybe tomorrow Rugani will play, but if I choose someone then it’s because I think that player is suitable for that game. They’re all exceptional.”
On the injury front, here’s how things stand.
“Sami Khedira is out but if all goes well, we’ll see him again in two weeks. Federico Bernardeschi will not be in the squad for SPAL, but he might make the one against Valencia. Emre Can should have at least 20-30 minutes in him, in a couple of weeks.
“We’ll go with what we have, but we’re not in a state of emergency. The team are fine physically and mentally.
“Miralem Pjanic has ironed out all the flaws from his game and is now a top player. He has vision, plays nice geometries and had a great game in Milan, showing his range of passing.
“He also won back balls, which let us counterattack. I sometimes take him off so he can recover, plus I have Rodrigo Bentancur who’s growing quickly.”
Leading up to the winter break, Allegri wants the utmost concentration from his side.
“I’m happy with what we’re doing. Now these next seven league games will be important, there is still a lot to do. To keep the six-point advantage over Napoli in the standings we have to win. It is not about a show of strength, simply to win.”