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Allegri: Don’t make the Champions League an obsession!

Manager’s comments ahead of Sunday’s Derby della Mole

ACF Fiorentina v Juventus - Serie A Photo by Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images

While continuing to receive flak from many disappointed Juventus fans following the midweek Champions League capitulation against Tottenham, manager Massimiliano Allegri spoke to the media ahead of Sunday’s Derby della Mole against Torino, starting with an injury update.

“Next week, everyone will be available except for Juan Cuadrado.

“Mario Mandzukic has a fever, so I sent him home. Federico Bernardeschi had a muscular problem in training yesterday, so he is at our disposal, but needs to be evaluated. If Bernardeschi can’t play, I’ll find someone to go upfront. We’ve got Rodrigo Bentancur, Alex Sandro and Stefano Sturaro. We’ll find someone!”

Juve sorely missed Paulo Dybala against Spurs, and it looks like he’ll be back for tomorrow.

“Dybala is in good condition, but not enough to start. He can probably play about 30 minutes. From next week, Blaise Matuidi will be available too. I can confirm Miralem Pjanic and Sami Khedira will start in midfield, but I have yet to decide on the third name.

“As was planned, Gigi Buffon will rest tomorrow and return against Atalanta in the Coppa Italia semi-final. Wojciech Szczesny will start.

“We were well aware going in that there wouldn’t be many players available for these two games against Tottenham and Torino, but we’re prepared for that.”

On cross-city rivals Torino -

“Torino haven’t yet conceded a goal on home turf since Walter Mazzarri took over at Torino, so they are a very solid side. The Derby is always an important match, a key moment in the campaign. Also, three points tomorrow would allow us to stay in Napoli’s slipstream.

“Torino play good football and allow few opportunities to score, so it’ll be a game decided on incidents and set plays. Mazzarri has brought in his ideas and has always had good results in his career.

“The derby is always a derby, so it’s tough regardless of the circumstances.”

Napoli are going all in for the Scudetto, as evidenced by their weakened lineup in the Europa League, losing to Red Bull Leipzig on Thursday.

“Playing in Europe is always difficult. Napoli came up against a very good team that caused them problems.”

Their manager Maurizio Sarri has again complained about Juve playing first every weekend, conveniently forgetting that since Napoli are in the Europa League on Thursdays his side’s games come later in the weekend.

“There’s always pressure, as if you play before the leaders, the pressure is to get the result, if you play after, there’s the pressure of keeping up with them. It’s like a dog chasing its tail. We are in a global football world with different games over several days to suit TV rights. If you don’t like it, then work in Lega Pro where they play once every 15 days.”

Inevitably, the Spurs game was brought up once again.

“Our chances of progress are just the same as they were before the first leg. We got a lot wrong in that game, as our pass completion rate was around 55 per cent when it is usually in the 70s. Having said that, Tottenham have for years been the most prolific side in the Premier League with a strong defence and the top scorer. They are not an easy team to face.

“The Champions League must not be experienced as an obsession, because when you have an obsession, you never win! I say everyone around Juventus ought to be very proud, because we have become stable in the top 10 European clubs.

“It ought to be motivating to face the other big sides in Europe, always remembering that a ball 5cm one way or the other can decide if you progress or not.

“The important thing now is to focus on Serie A and the Coppa Italia semi-final, because there’s a long way to go before March 6 and Wembley.”