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Allegri: Juve must play with the same intensity as against Atletico

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Manager’s comments ahead of big Champions League clash

SPAL v Juventus - Serie A Photo by Mario Carlini / Iguana Press/Getty Images

Juventus host Ajax Amsterdam on Tuesday in the second leg of their Champions League quarterfinal, with the duel finely poised at 1-1 after the first leg in the Netherlands.

Speaking ahead of the game, manager Massimiliano Allegri spoke about his squad selections in the light of the injuries that have knocked out Giorgio Chiellini, Mario Mandzukic, Juan Cuadrado and Martin Caceres.

“Mandzukic changes nothing, as there was already a good chance he could miss out. Now I just need to decide who plays instead.

“Tomorrow night could have Moise Kean from the start, Paulo Dybala from the start or neither of them. If Kean or Dybala start, it’s normal that either Mattia De Sciglio or Joao Cancelo will be out. If neither of them start, then it’s possible both of them do.

“I won’t make any decisions until tomorrow morning. You need to use only healthy players, as you can’t risk wasting a substitution. Mandzukic has a knee problem he felt since the AC Milan game, he tried training today and had to stop.

“Douglas Costa stopped again with a calf issue after the first leg and is again not in the best condition, so at most he can play 15-30 minutes. He can be decisive in that period.

“If you have Kean or Dybala, it’s a different type of match. You need to move the ball forward quickly and that’s something we didn’t do very well in Amsterdam.

Alex Sandro will play tomorrow. Leonardo Spinazzola did very well against Atletico Madrid, but he used up so much energy that he needed rest, both physically and mentally. You need to become accustomed to big games, you can’t play them every three days without slowly adapting to it.”

For Ajax, midfield lynchpin Frenkie de Jong is doubtful and will face a late fitness test while Nicolas Tagliafico is suspended.

“De Jong is a very good player. If he plays, it won’t make any difference to us. Our objective is to win the match and qualify for the semi-final, with all due respect whether De Jong plays or not.”

Juve had lost 2-0 away at Atletico Madrid in the previous round, so with the 1-1 away draw a different approach would be required.

“The first leg result is irrelevant. We must play with the same intensity we did against Atletico Madrid. We must have great respect for Ajax and also move the ball with much greater precision than we did in Amsterdam. If we do those two things, we can go through.

“The game will always be open, because we’ll both play to win until the bitter end, so it won’t be over until the final whistle.

“It’ll be an important night for an extraordinary target, reaching the semi-final, so we need the fans to push the lads on to achieve it. There will be times when we need to defend and we have to do it all together.”

Ajax had put in a stupendous effort in the second leg of the previous round, beating Champions League holders Real Madrid 4-1 at the Bernabeu.

“I was convinced there would be goals in the first leg and I think the second leg will be very similar. We need to focus on the details in defence.

“Ajax played better in Madrid than they did in Amsterdam. We must do well attacking, be focused in midfield and when defending. It’ll be very open, we need above all a great performance, one that is physical and technical.

“We could’ve and should’ve done better in Amsterdam.”

With Juve’s regular captains out, would Cristiano Ronaldo be in the reckoning to wear the armband on Tuesday?

“Cristiano has this extraordinary quality, which is that when the game time comes, he changes. You can see it in his face. He’s in better shape physically than he was last week.

“As for the captaincy, if Dybala plays, he’ll be captain, otherwise Leonardo Bonucci.”