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Allegri: Juventus still need to improve in attack and defence

Coach previews first of two Champions League clashes against Zenit

Juventus Training Session & Press Conference Photo by Daniele Badolato - Juventus FC/Juventus FC via Getty Images

Juventus are back in action on Wednesday in the Champions League, this time away at Zenit St. Petersburg where Claudio Marchisio closed out his career a few years ago. Coach Massimiliano Allegri had earmarked the pair of Zenit games as critical in determining final positioning in the group, and Juve will have to ensure they don’t drop any points away or at home.

Speaking ahead of the clash in the pre-match press conference, Allegri indicated who he sees starting the game.

“Matthijs De Ligt has fully recovered and will play. Otherwise Rugani would have played. But he has recovered and will play.

“As for the formation, De Ligt, Bonucci and Szczesny play. Then I will see how the others are.

“Arthur will get some more minutes; I don’t know if he will start or enter during the game. Alvaro Morata is fine, he has fully recovered and could start.”

With Juventus now unbeaten in seven games after a rocky start to the season, would Allegri say that he has his Juve back now?

“I feel like smiling when they tell me ‘your Juve’, I have good players, at the beginning I didn’t know everyone well.

“Right now the team also like to defend and this is a good thing. We need to improve, both in attack and defence. Then the results increase the self-esteem and you work with more serenity.”

Paulo Dybala and Adrian Rabiot are not making the trip to Russia, though Allegri expects to have the attacking lynchpin back for the big Derby D’Italia game this weekend.

“He’s working well but he hasn’t worked with the team yet. He should almost certainly be available against Inter.

“Sunday’s game? Needless to talk about it now, tomorrow we have a match-ball that we must exploit.”

Mattia De Sciglio did well stepping in for Alex Sandro over the weekend with the Brazilian still recovering from his exploits during the international break.

“Alex Sandro is in. De Sciglio played an excellent game, but those games should be normal for him.”

Juve are slowly working their way up the Serie A table after a record-breaking terrible start, and Allegri set out his goal for the period until the next international break in November.

“We have the opportunity to remain attached to the top and to advance from the group stage in the Champions League. Then we’ll see for the rest. We are calm.”

Referee Daniele Orsato has been widely panned for a number of poor decisions during Juve’s 1-0 victory over AS Roma over the weekend, what did Allegri have to say about him?

“I have already commented on Sunday. The thing that has arisen is par for Italy. I believe that each of us would have something to complain about every Sunday.

“I believe there’s a generational change among the Italian referees. They are good, they are helped by VAR. We need to give them time.”

Regarding Wednesday’s opponents, the coach knows this will not be a cakewalk.

“Zenit are a team with important technical values, with very good players in the middle of the field. In front, they have two players with different characteristics.

“To come out with a positive result, you need to have a good match.”