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Allegri: Champions League an objective, not obligation

Manager’s comments ahead of big Champions League clash

Juventus Press Conference Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Juventus are in Spain tomorrow to take on Atlético Madrid in the first leg of their Champions League Round of 16 clash. Manager Massimiliano Allegri faced the media along with Miralem Pjanic ahead of the game in the customary press conference.

On the topic of Paulo Dybala, who broke his goalscoring drought this last weekend, Allegri said -

“Tomorrow Dybala will play. That makes you [journalists] happy so I can go now, right?

“He won’t play because of his goal last Friday but rather because of his overall performance. I think it’ll be a game where he can give us a big hand.

“He’s in tip-top condition, so it’s right he plays.”

Allegri was asked about tomorrow’s opponents, who remain difficult opposition in this competition in recent years.

“A last-16 tie awaits us. We’ve competed at a high level for the last four years and tomorrow’s game is important, like it has been in previous years.

“Atletico are organised and their strength lies in the defensive phase. The team are growing physically, psychologically and technically.

“Having said that, we must go on. We’re entering the most important part of the season. We have to play a fair game, knowing that we’re facing a compact team, who take advantage of set-pieces and have achieved important results in Europe.”

It’s been a difficult season for the Bianconeri with injuries, but Allegri also stated the effect he’s expecting from Cristiano Ronaldo.

“We’ve had some difficulties, but the team is now growing in all aspects, but we can’t stop here and have to improve further, because we are playing in the Last 16 and have more league games to go.

”To win, you have to work hard and have a little bit of luck, because the Champions League is like that. Having Ronaldo is definitely an advantage because in the last 10 years the top scorers of the tournament were him and Messi, but the team must put in a good performance. With Ronaldo - the best in the world, you have more chances to win, but it’s not a guarantee.”

On his opposite number Diego Simeone, who just signed a new five-year deal that will keep him at the Wanda Metropolitano until 2022, Allegri added -

“He’s done an extraordinary job and above all he manages to make the team work the same way, giving them the right mind-set and manages well both the important games and against the medium-small sides in always the same way. They always have great humility and great respect for their adversary and they know that they have gotten their results with those characteristics. So congratulations to Simeone.”

Allegri also added a comment about former Juve striker Alvaro Morata who showed up with some critical goals in this very competition.

“Alvaro Morata grew a lot here, plus he’s a very dangerous player. Tomorrow we must try to control the match and be wary of the counterattack.”

The manager ended with some words of wisdom for his side.

“The Champions League isn’t an obligation, rather it’s an objective, which often also depends on incidents that go for or against you.

“Tomorrow, we will have to stay sharp and try to control the game. I wouldn’t take a draw now, in fact I said to that lads that it’s important to score a goal, although two would be better.”