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Allegri: Ronaldo has to peak in March for Champions League

Manager’s comments ahead of Juventus vs Atlanta on Boxing Day

Juventus v AS Roma - Serie A Photo by Tullio M. Puglia/Getty Images

Juventus take on Atalanta on the day after Christmas, a first since 1971. With the short turnaround between the games, Massimiliano Allegri skipped his usual press conference and spoke to Sky Sport instead.

“Today is a day of celebration where families and loved ones meet, whilst we get together to prepare for tomorrow’s match and then depart for Bergamo. I asked my players to take tomorrow seriously and bring home the three points, because there is a particular atmosphere of celebration, so it’s important we are at the right mental level, otherwise we risk giving a gift to Atalanta.

“We know that we face a physical and aggressive team, who are coming into the game after a defeat in Genoa, and will be play on a difficult pitch and in a full stadium. We will try to bring home the three points we need on our journey towards the Scudetto, through a defensive and offensive performance.”

The manager started off with his satisfaction with Cristiano Ronaldo and the team as a whole.

“Cristiano Ronaldo will not start tomorrow, he will be for the first time with me on the bench. I am very happy about how he is doing, as everybody. Looking at the stats, this was his best starts in terms of goals and other numbers. However, he has to peak in March, in the home stretch of the Champions League, where he could be a deciding factor, like he has been in the last few years.”

He was asked about his thoughts on playing during the Christmas holiday, having already asked his players to lay off the panettone.

“There are three points at stake, it will be different compared to last few seasons, we have to make it as normal as possible. It does not feel like Christmas because we are preparing for a match. Our gift could only be to turn our seasonal goals into trophies, starting with the Supercoppa on January 16th, which could be an appetizer.”

Allegri also spoke about tomorrow’s opponents Atalanta.

“It will be important to be ready mentally, we do not want to give them any present. They will be seeking revenge after losing against Genoa, but we need the three points.”

There will certainly be some changes to the starting lineup for the game.

“Blaise Matuidi had a high fever tonight and he will stay at home. Sami Khedira could start, while one of the two centre-backs will rest. Federico Bernardeschi is unlikely to be in the squad list.

Andrea Barzagli and Juan Cuadrado are, then we will evaluate Moise Kean who is fatigued.”

Juventus already disposed of Inter Milan and now will watch second-placed Napoli play the third-placed Inter.

“We will have to take care of business, so we can put some a lot of pressure on Napoli and watch the game with more serenity. The season is long: the lads are playing well but we are only at the beginning. The next two months will be crucial, because we could set up an easier end of the season. Then April and May will be the most important months due to the Champions League.”