Juventus take on Napoli as the top two clubs in Italy face each other in an early test of strength. While the Scudetto will hardly be settled this weekend, it’ll certainly provide some leverage for the months ahead.
Manager Massimiliano Allegri is under no illusions of the challenge.
“We’ll have to be tough and physical tomorrow and play as we know. It will be a good game and one we must be ready for. The fans will have to make themselves known because we have to make up for last season’s defeat.
“For now the team are growing, both physically and mentally. These are two teams who have fought to win the League in recent years.”
Regarding the Neapolitans, who now have well-traveled coach Carlo Ancelotti in charge, Allegri added -
“Napoli are now conceding less shots on goal, while they’ve won seven and lost one of their last eight games.
“They have an important project, with important players who know each other. In terms of the table, a win is much more important for them than it is for us, but we’re still at the beginning of the season.
“Carlo had the intelligence not to destroy Sarri’s work, but he also brought over his mentality. After their defeat to Samp, he gave the Press conference of a great Coach.”
When asked if Ancelotti was a ‘tinkerman’ coach like himself, Allegri clarified -
“I don’t know. There are so many things said about us. Everyone works as they deem fit. After that, they must try to win.
“I believe Ancelotti has won a lot, more than me, even if these lads have given me some trophies
“We’re similar in the way we deal with things, we come from the same coaching school. The only thing we’re interested in is going as far possible. The rest doesn’t matter, unless the regulations change now.
“This morning I looked at Ancelotti’s list of honours and at a certain point I stopped because he won too much. May it stop!”
Is the Scudetto already a two-horse race this early into the season?
“Napoli have three points less than us, but they’ve put in some great performances. Inter are recovering and tomorrow, if they win, they’ll have recovered points on at least on one of us.
“Milan and Roma are lagging behind a bit, but this season is another challenge for us.”
The manager was asked if Juve’s financial clout made the Serie A uncompetitive.
“Absolutely not, otherwise there wouldn’t be a League to compete in.
“Just look at what happens in Spain. Napoli are a cert in Italian football. Juventus, however, have won seven League titles and four Italian cups, as well as making two Champions League Finals.
“Winning isn’t easy, so we must always keep the voltage high.”
He finished off with a squad update when asked if Paulo Dybala would be on the bench tomorrow.
“Luckily I always have to make painful choices. Before it was Federico Bernardeschi, who is in the best possible condition. I have to see who will play as we have another important game next Tuesday.
“Mattia De Sciglio and Sami Khedira could return in Udine, Douglas Costa against Young Boys.
“Tomorrow Leonardo Bonucci, Giorgio Chiellini, Alex Sandro, Miralem Pjanic, Blaise Matuidi and Cristiano Ronaldo will all play.”
“The others? Tough luck, although if you want another one - Wojciech Szczesny.”