Juventus play Sassuolo tomorrow and manager Massimiliano Allegri came prepared for the questions that he was likely to get, especially around Paulo Dybala.
“He didn’t play because I had to make tactical choices. Paulo’s quality is not up for debate, but I have to pick 11 players plus another three to come off the bench.
“Fortunately, we can now begin to play three games per week. Paulo has to prove he deserves his place in the starting line-up. That is true for everyone and I know of no other way. When you have this much talent in the squad, someone has to sit out.
“However, I do not like the pressure people are putting on Dybala, because if he plays tomorrow and doesn’t have a great performance, you in the media are going to destroy him. You are the ones who want him on the pitch and can’t wait to tear him apart.
“I am very happy with the way he came off the bench in Parma for the last 15 minutes, as he already had a completely different approach. He just has to do like everyone else, train hard and find his form. There will be room for everyone, as from here to December 30 our objective is to qualify for the Champions League knockout rounds and stay on top of Serie A, so we can be geared up for the final push from March onwards.
“Let’s not forget that two years ago the team went all the way because everyone joined in and gave their contribution. The important thing is to find the right balance.”
Allegri also provided an injury update and who will be in the starting lineup tomorrow.
“Miralem Pjanic and Giorgio Chiellini are likely to be rested. I still have to decide on Sami Khedira. It ought to be the first start tomorrow for Emre Can, who came from a different style of football and it was only natural he’d need a period to adapt, especially after an injury.
“Emre Can and Rodrigo Bentancur can both replace Pjanic, even if they have different characteristics. If Alex Sandro doesn’t start, then either Mattia De Sciglio or Joao Cancelo will play. Medhi Benatia and Daniele Rugani are both in good shape and available.
“I can confirm Mario Mandzukic will start and so will Wojciech Szczesny – there will be room for Mattia Perin as the season goes on. Those who played two international games won’t start, with the exception of Blaise Matuidi.”
Cristiano Ronaldo is yet to score for Juve but Allegri is backing him to end the drought.
“Cristiano worked well and I think tomorrow he will break his duck. I expect nothing more or less than what he did in the first three games, but I believe tomorrow he’ll find the back of the net and break the ice.
“With no offence to Luka Modric, I’d give the Ballon d’Or to Ronaldo for what he did last season. I think he deserves it.”
Sassuolo are still unbeaten after three rounds and sit in second place, having already beaten Inter, so it’s a tough test for the Bianconeri.
“Roberto De Zerbi is a talented young Coach and his teams play good football. The table tells us this is a head-to-head for position. Sassuolo have enthusiasm, good players and a Coach who is making his mark.
“Over the last few games, we have allowed a bit too much at the back and need to be more solid.”