Juventus return from the winter break hopefully refreshed and recharged after finishing the first half of the season looking dull and uninspired at times. Manager Massimiliano Allegri warned that as far as he was concerned the season begins anew and the first thing on his mind is the Coppa Italia round-of-16 clash against Bologna tomorrow.
“The Coppa Italia is an objective like the Supercoppa. We’ll be playing a one-legged tie without the possibility of replaying, against a Bologna team who will want to give their best.
“From tomorrow until June 1, we hope to play for the season so we’ll need to give a serious performance.”
Allegri provided a squad update along with who he’s expecting to play tomorrow.
“I expect an excellent performance from Paulo Dybala, like the one’s he’s given so far. He’s very useful in terms of knitting our play together.
“Moise Kean and Leonardo Spinazzola could also play from the beginning. Someone will play one half, the changes we make will be important and we hope to win it in 90 minutes.
“On the right, Mattia De Sciglio will play. Joao Cancelo will return in the Supercoppa. Leonardo Bonucci will be there and we’ll see about Miralem Pjanic.
“Mario Mandzukic? Like he says, ‘no good’.”
The manager was asked about the racism in Italian football furore that picked up steam in December.
“All the usual stuff’s been said to fill mouths, but we have the means to go and get those who behave badly. If I’m not mistaken and if my memory serves me right, whoever threw that banana at Raheem Sterling can no longer enter stadiums.
“In Italy the authorities are afraid of making important decisions because they’re unpopular.”
The Supercoppa is being played midweek against AC Milan in Saudi Arabia, and there has been some criticism about the human rights record of the Middle Eastern nation.
“I’m not a politician and I don’t want to be one, but a contract was signed by Lega Serie A and we must go and play there.
“Women can go to the stadium. It’s a small step forward and we can see the positive aspect our trip has made.
“It seems to me that Italy also has economic ties with Saudi Arabia. They told us to play there and that’s what we’re going to do.”
There has been more news in the Cristiano Ronaldo case and Allegri was asked about his opinions.
“Ronaldo’s affair is a private one. I only want to talk about football, but he looked calm, trained well and came back rested.
“He needed to rest after four months of non-stop football. I don’t get into private matters and I’ve seen Cristiano appear calm and serene. The rest isn’t for me to answer.”
Finally, he was asked about whether he though Juventus would be involved in the January mercato with rumours that Aaron Ramsey was close to signing.
“Right now we don’t need anyone in midfield. We’re fine as we are. Tomorrow we have to get straight back into the season because the first game is always the most difficult, otherwise you risk conceding a goal quickly.”