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Allegri: More pressure on Napoli than Juventus

Manager’s comments ahead of Juve’s midweek game against Crotone

Juventus v UC Sampdoria - Serie A Photo by Tullio M. Puglia/Getty Images

Massimiliano Allegri insists all the pressure is on Napoli as they chase Juventus.

“Juventus have 84 points right now, and in another season that would be close to winning the league.

“It’s not the case now. Napoli have the chance to break their record of 87 points and, as Sarri said last time, to win the league.

“They’re still there fighting for the title and they have every chance. It’s normal that, as it’s the only objective they have, there’s more pressure on them but we have to be ready.”

He’s very clear on what is needed to get there.

“There are no calculations to be made, there are six games to go and we need four wins, mathematically. Otherwise we’ll see what happens, but we have a difficult fixture list, as do Napoli, so everything is still in play.

“We need to go slowly, take it one step at a time. Tomorrow we have to go and win against a good Crotone team, to stay six points clear with five games until the end. Then we’ll get ready for the beautiful night of football that Sunday will be.”

Allegri wants his boys to get back to focusing on the Scudetto race, despite holding a six point lead over Napoli.

“Of the two games we will have to face this week, I think the most important and the most decisive is tomorrow. To go into a head-to-head match six points ahead is an advantage that we can say is important.

“Then there’s another fact, that after going six clear on Sunday I heard talk of the Scudetto already being won, of celebrations. Until the maths says so you don’t have it, and to have the maths on our side we need wins.

“Tomorrow we go to Crotone, who first of all are a good team because they didn’t deserve to lose to Genoa and most of the points they have came at home. They have six points more than they did last year, and playing there is always difficult. We struggled there last year, so we need patience and to make sure we don’t fall into the trap of getting caught on the counter-attack.

“We have to come away with three points, the lads gave a good response after Madrid with the right match against Sampdoria, but tomorrow we need three more points, because what we have isn’t enough for the Scudetto.

“Moreover, Napoli have only one objective this season so they’ll do everything to re-open the title race and win it. By contrast we have the Coppa Italia too, but in any case we can’t let the league get away from us.”

With Gonzalo Higuain one yellow card away from suspension, will Allegri rest him tomorrow so that he can certainly play against Napoli?

“I don’t give a damn about the booking.

“If Higuain is fit he will play tomorrow, because the match to win is tomorrow’s, not the one with Napoli on Sunday or whenever it is, Sunday evening. I don’t even know when we’re playing it.

”He’s fine. Yesterday he stopped the last training session before the end, but I don’t think it’s anything to worry about. And if he’s fit then he’ll play.”

He finished with an update on the Juve squad.

Andrea Barzagli is available because he was on the bench the other day, Miralem Pjanic definitely isn’t and then the others are more or less available. I need to evaluate Federico Bernardeschi today to decide whether to bring him back in or not.

“There will be some changes, but I don’t know because I need to evaluate the condition of the squad. What’s certain is we need the right energy to go and win at Crotone.

“Tomorrow Wojciech Szczesny will play. As far as Gigi Buffon goes, that evening in Madrid was good for him because it gave him the adrenaline rush he needed. Champions live on that adrenaline, great evenings; moments of confusion, mess and tension. If everything was all calm and flat, everyone would fall asleep.

“I don’t know if I’ll play Rodrigo Bentancur tomorrow in place of Pjanic, I might play Claudio Marchisio. I’ll see who is ready and who isn’t, because Juan Cuadrado is coming off a lot of games, and after a spell on the sidelines it’s normal that could cause him to lose a bit of his sharpness.

“We’re all really good mentally though and that’s the important thing, because at this stage of the season the mental side counts for a lot.”