A ninth Scudetto in a row beckons. With just six games left to play, Juventus need 11 points from those fixtures to secure the title no matter what the chasing cast of Inter Milan, Lazio and Atalanta do.
First though Juve will face a difficult trip to Sassuolo who have already held Inter and beaten Lazio in recent weeks. Speaking ahead of the trip, manager Maurizio Sarri credited tomorrow’s hosts, comparing them to Atalanta.
“Sassuolo are one of those teams that have taken the same path as Atalanta. They have given continuity to a project and are doing well.
“We face them in a dangerous period because they are great in attack. We are enthused too, as well as determined.”
Atalanta ran Juve ragged last time out, and the Bianconeri were fortunate to draw 2-2 thanks to two penalties.
“Atalanta are a team that have also changed along the way, in recent years they have become more dangerous in attack and are so aggressive that they defensively don’t give you a breather.
“Sassuolo are a team that have the propensity to dribble out of the ordinary, manages to keep possession and play matches. It’s a difficulty that will come out again tomorrow because they don’t hesitate against the great teams, they want to move forward on their path.
“We must take this into account, and we must suffer. It’s something to foresee and we must be ready.”
Sassuolo coach Roberto De Zerbi also received particular praise from Sarri for the work he has done.
“Everyone plays the football they can based on the characteristics of the players available. Otherwise you become your own coach and not the team. He gives an impression to his teams, has ideas and tries to apply them. He seems like the most interesting of the young coaches.
“I don’t know if he is like me. Coaches are the result of their experiences, so it’s not that I think any of us are totally inspired by another coach. He may have taken something but 99 per cent of what he does, he has come up with and taken from his own experiences.”
Juve still have to take on Lazio and with Inter and Atalanta also in the mix, it will be a thrilling final sprint to the finishing line.
“This championship is not over, we have to fight and suffer. We are lucky if we reach the target by claiming 11 points in the next six games. I don’t think anyone is so superficial that they take it for granted, because in sports there are no obvious results. I don’t think so.
“I don’t know about criticism. I’m estranged from everything and everyone, I don’t participate, and I will never use social networks by choice of life. People on the street seem to give us support and affection.”
Juventus have always succeeded on the back of important contributions from midfield, though this season has been quite barren in terms of goals from that area.
“The team have scored 17 goals in six games, I think. I don’t see that as a problem for us right now. We know that the player that has the most goals in his feet is Aaron Ramsey, due to his individual characteristics.
“Then we have several players who are developing and can score more goals in the future, like Rodrigo Bentancur and Adrien Rabiot.”
Sarri also provided an injury update on his squad, starting with Merih Demiral who is on his way back.
“He’s as well as a boy who comes from an ACL operation is. He’s fine, I haven’t seen him in any great difficulty. He came back two days ago and let’s give him a few days to train and get back in the right condition. Now, we must make him efficient from the point of view of performing.
“Miralem Pjanic was excluded as a precaution, he didn’t have a huge problem. He only had fatigue in his adductor that could become a problem. The next day he trained as normal.
“Leonardo Bonucci has this problem with his foot, let’s see if he has improved and see if it’s appropriate to let him play or if he needs to be rested.”
As far as any changes for tomorrow, Sarri says that captain Giorgio Chiellini is still not ready to play a full game.
“Chiellini is one of the great regrets of the season. Having to cope without such an important player for so many months has been tough. It’s not good that it has not been put more weight on this aspect because he’s a player that can be decisive. He stopped due to the knee injury and then he had to stop for two months because of the lockdown and it’s something that has extended his time out.
“He has been training with the team for five days, I see him developing and in the future he will be able to contribute. He won’t play 90 minutes, but he’s developing.
“We don’t have to make many calculations. We only have to think about getting 11 points in six games. Then we can think about everything else afterwards.
“We had players resting due to suspensions and we will definitely have Juan Cuadrado back. Alex Sandro missed three or four games because of injury. Something is starting to move and I hope that we can rotate more.”