Juventus take on AS Roma on Saturday in a game that has lost some meaning in the last couple of seasons after Napoli have overtaken the Romans in becoming Juve’s sole challenger for the Scudetto, but manager Massimiliano Allegri warns that it’ll still be very competitive.
“Technically they’re a very good team. Together with Juventus, they’re the only Italian team left in the Champions League. Everyone expected Roma to be higher, but it’s still Juventus-Roma tomorrow.
“We can’t underestimate any game, also because their ranking is false at the moment. The true table will emerge on December 29, when the first round comes to an end.
“They have players who can decide a game. I don’t know if Edin Dzeko or Patrik Schick will play, plus Nikolo Zaniolo is growing. Cengiz Under can be dangerous, plus they have Justin Kluivert and Stephan El Shaarawy. They’re all players who can punish you if you don’t play with the right approach, so we can’t do that tomorrow.
“[Manager] Eusebio Di Francesco’s qualities can’t be disputed. He’s one of the youngest Coaches around and he did very well last season, taking Roma to the semi-finals of the Champions League, and fought with Napoli for second place.
“His value can’t be in question, but results can throw us all into trouble. Still, he has time to relaunch Rome, also because I think teams will only need 62-65 points for the Champions League, which is very low compared to other years.”
The manager was asked if Leonardo Spinazzola could leave on loan in January, and also provided a squad update on who would play.
“It depends on Juan Cuadrado. Leonardo is doing very well and could play, but tomorrow it’ll be Mattia De Sciglio or Alex Sandro.
“Joao Cancelo is doing rehabilitation and will be assessed today in Germany. As for Cuadrado, it still must be decided whether he needs surgery or conservative therapy.
“Mehdi Benatia to start? Giorgio Chiellini will definitely play. I still have to choose his partner. I’ve seen the data for minutes played and Leonardo Bonucci’s is frightening.
“I’ll also base my selections on our opponents. Sami Khedira will be back tomorrow and is better than I expected. I won’t say that he’ll play, but he has a chance. There’s also Emre Can, who had a good game against Torino, plus Cristiano Ronaldo will play. He’ll be rested for one of our next two games.”
Allegri was also asked about Juve’s proposed activity in the January transfer window.
“I haven’t written to Santa. Agnelli and I wished each other well, plus the team are competitive right now and the only thing that matters is that we pick up results through our performances.
“We’ll talk and assess situations, like we do every day of every year, but we must focus on this week.”