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Allegri appreciates opportunity for Juventus to make history

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Manager’s comments ahead of Coppa Italia final

FC Internazionale v Juventus - Serie A Photo by Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images

Juventus take on AC Milan in the Coppa Italia final in Rome tomorrow and manager Massimiliano Allegri knows that history is beckoning.

“This game is very important for us, very important, because it would help close off a season with a Scudetto that isn’t mathematically ours yet, but nearly.

“With this Cup, the lads could again get into the history books of Juventus. We have to play with enthusiasm, because we had some wobbles against Inter and Bologna. It’s always wonderful to play for a Cup and to face Milan, as these games are always very balanced.”

Allegri was at Milan before joining the Bianconeri, and current Rossoneri manager Gennaro Gattuso had played for him.

“Rino is passionate about football and is also really hard-headed. You could tell he wanted to be a Coach. It’s not easy to sit on the Milan bench after experiences at Sion and Pisa, taking over during a complicated situation. He did very well, because he’s getting some very good results.

“The most important thing about Gattuso, and I know this because he was my player, is that when you stop playing and were a champion for many years, it’s not easy to challenge yourself all over again.

“Rino has done that very well, as did Pippo Inzaghi. Starting again from the Lega Pro is not easy, so I have to compliment them.

“I think Gattuso has calmed down a bit lately and that’s a good sign too. I hope he’ll get more annoyed tomorrow, as that’ll mean things are going badly for Milan and well for us!”

Among his latest tactical wrinkles has been using Juan Cuadrado as a fullback.

“Cuadrado has done well as a right-back. He made some mistakes against Inter with the timing of the runs, but he just needs more practice.”

“Either Medhi Benatia or Daniele Rugani will start, while it’s Andrea Barzagli’s birthday today and we have to give him a nice present. Of those three, two will play.

“Mario Mandzukic, Mattia De Sciglio and Stefano Sturaro are all available, so it’s just Giorgio Chiellini and Benedikt Howedes out. We’ll see if we defend with two, three or four, it depends on the characteristics of the players.

“We know Milan will cause us problems, as they are very dangerous on the counter, so we’ve got to do strong preventative marking. Milan have a lot of technically-gifted players, it’s a Final and we must show a strong mentality.”

There has been criticism of how Juventus have looked at times in recent weeks.

“If we win the Scudetto, regardless of how the Coppa Italia Final goes, it will have been an extraordinary season for Juventus. We should enjoy our achievements.

“People point out our defects and that can only help the team to improve, because if all we got was compliments, we’d never see what could be done better.

“A Coach is fortunate when he has a strong club behind him that puts a group of players at his disposal, but first and foremost a group of men. Fortunately, in my 10 years of Serie A football from Cagliari to today, I have always had men of great values working with me, otherwise they couldn’t be at Milan or Juventus.

“They’ve all given me the kind of satisfaction I can never forget, because they are part of my life, everyone teaching me something important.

“I have great fun being a Coach, otherwise I’d be in trouble.”

There have been plenty of rumours in the last week regarding his future at Juve.

“I have a very good rapport with the club and we are in sync, as proved over the last four years, where the team was turned inside out during the first season and the club worked so well to bring in players of quality alongside those who had not just technique, but great human values.

“At the end of the day, in football you need more than technique to win. You need other values that can push you on during difficult times.

“At the end of the season, we’ll sit down and talk as we always do and plan for the future, because we have to do that every year and this has to be done with great clarity.”

Among the clubs linked with Max are Arsenal where Arsene Wenger is retiring and Chelsea, where former Juve boss Antonio Conte has been under fire this season after lifting the Premier League title last year.

“I have changed a lot over the last four years, but also every year, every day… What I ask my players is to every day challenge themselves to find what we did wrong and what we can improve. Because what you’ve done right remains and nobody can take that away, but we have to go over what went wrong within ourselves.

“I was a different Coach when I was at Milan. At Juventus I am more than just a Coach, because I worked with two completely different clubs, but who both have the desire to win. I took the best elements from both sides.

“My growth process isn’t finished yet and I hope it’ll only end when I have decided to retire, which won’t be too late. I do have a few more years in me.”