Juventus take on Lazio on Sunday after some activity in the January transfer market. Medhi Benatia has left the club to go to Al-Duhail in Qatar, while Martin Caceres will be returning for his third spell with the Bianconeri.
Speaking during his pre-match press conference, manager Massimiliano Allegri spoke about the squad changes.
“Benatia asked to leave, he made a different choice to our intentions and the club gave him what he wanted. There was no point keeping a player who didn’t want to be here. In any case, Benatia had some good years at Juventus and I too am sad he is leaving, but I cannot get inside his head and change his mind for him. He made this decision and that’s it.
“Along with the club, we evaluated other profiles that we could bring to Juventus and were fortunate that Caceres accepted. I’m very happy.
“This is his third stint here, so Martin knows the club, is reliable and completes an already strong defensive unit. In about three or four weeks, we’ll have Andrea Barzagli back too, so that’ll be it.
“Caceres is a player who I know and in my view he can give a great deal to Juventus. It wouldn’t have been wise to bring players in with four months left of the season, waiting for them to learn the language, check their fitness levels, etc. It would’ve taken too long. Martin is ready to go.”
Considering have already brought back Leonardo Bonucci at the beginning of the season, the manager was asked if the club would move to bring back Paul Pogba too.
“You have remarkable imagination! I think it’ll be very difficult to see Pogba return to Juventus.”
Ahead of Sunday night’s game, Allegri knows Juve face a challenging task.
“This is always a complicated fixture for us. Lazio will try to beat a big club for the first time this season and we hope they don’t manage it against us.
“Lazio are a very physical side, with good technique. Like Juve, they scored many goals from set plays and above all have plenty of shots on target in their home games.
“They’ll be eager to make up for the defeat to Napoli, whereas we must find our consistency. There’s a very long way to go for the Scudetto and every victory is just one more step towards that final goal.
“It’s always wonderful to play at the Stadio Olimpico, so we are called upon to put in a great performance in every way.”
With injuries piling up over the season, Allegri will have to make changes again, especially in a ravaged midfield.
“Joao Cancelo is available again, although he’ll probably only be an option off the bench. Mario Mandzukic and perhaps Sami Khedira will come back against Parma. Miralem Pjanic has been training since Monday.
“We can either play with two in midfield or all three. If we play with three, it’s Blaise Matuidi, Emre Can and Rodrigo Bentancur, then one from Douglas Costa and Federico Bernardeschi.
“Let’s not forget on Wednesday we’ve got a knockout Coppa Italia match in Bergamo against an Atalanta side that has always caused problems.
“My only doubt right now is whether to use two or three midfielders.”
Allegri went on to expound on his thinking with the skillsets of the different players in the squad.
“Emre Can has a lot that needs improving, he knows that, in the timing of his moves in front of the defence. So does Bentancur. Pjanic is quicker at moving the ball around, whereas they have longer pauses, so it makes the whole team move more slowly.
“It’s only an issue of training, because Emre Can gives a lot of coverage to the defence and has improved in terms of passing intuition. He is young, like Bentancur, and they have time to learn.”