Juventus are back in action tomorrow, this time in the Champions League. The Bianconeri host German side Bayer Leverkusen in the second matchday of Group D action, having drawn away at Atletico Madrid a fortnight ago.
Speaking ahead of the game, manager Maurizio Sarri cautioned his side from looking ahead to the big Derby D’Italia clash coming up against Inter Milan, led by former Juve player and manager Antonio Conte.
“We can’t think about Inter now. Bayer are only one point behind Bayern Munich and are the Bundesliga team with the best physical qualities, as well as having excellent runners.
“It’ll be a hugely difficult contest and it would be a crazy mistake to think beyond tomorrow. In this competition, incidents can be crucial.
“The only objective I’ve set for myself is to get through the group, then we’ll see. We must be carefree when taking to the field.”
Sarri continued to trot out the company line that we’ve heard quite a bit the last few years -
“The Champions League mustn’t become an obsession.
“Right now it’s very difficult for Italian teams to be favourites in the Champions League: for me, the English sides are favourites.”
He went on to add that he was pleasantly surprised at how quickly Aaron Ramsey has taken to the Italian game.
“He’s doing well, but he still has room for improvement. I was surprised by how quickly he’s integrated.
“We did better against SPAL than Brescia but, beyond the games, what leaves me calm is our attitude in training: it leaves me thinking that we‘re destined to improve.
“Now we must grow in terms of the speed of our play and our finishing.”
One question that continues to be debated among the fanbase is that of how to use Cristiano Ronaldo, Gonzalo Higuain and Paulo Dybala together.
“It’s a beautiful suggestion, but we’re still not balanced enough. For now, we can only try this solution for spells in matches.
“I don’t know if anyone will rest. Our physical condition is growing, but the mental one is also linked.”
Meanwhile, Juve’s leadership have ensured they will continue to live rent-free in the nerazzuri heads this week leading up to the derby after launching a new appeal to the CONI’s Collegio di Garanzia dello Sport tribunal to overturn the verdict of the 2006 Calciopoli scandal.
Snide move that, and you have to wonder how much that is to throw Conte off-balance after his whole-hearted support that Juve indeed deserved to have the 2005-06 Scudetto.