The international break is over and Juventus return to Serie A action with only a mathematical chance of catching Inter Milan atop the table, and will face cross-city rivals Torino in the Derby della Mole on Saturday.
However, in a bizarre season full of controversies, Juve had to suffer another ignominy midweek when police were called in to break up a house party - which is forbidden under COVID protocols - being hosted by Weston McKennie with Paulo Dybala and Arthur Melo present.
Speaking to the media today, Andrea Pirlo was terse in his comments about the affair.
“The three players involved are not called up for the match tomorrow. They will resume working with time and then we’ll see when. I made the decision and the club did the rest.
“For the technical part, I decided. These things have always happened, but this is not the time for what is going on in the world. It was not the right time to do it, we are examples and must behave like it.”
Pirlo maintains that he is going to continue to try to focus on the fixtures ahead on the schedule and let the remaining results play out as they will.
“The approach is to win all the games and then see what happens in front and behind. The goal is to win the one tomorrow and then think about the next one. Our goal is to win all the games.”
Pirlo has settled a derby or two in his time as a player, and knows that these games are played with great passion, no matter the standings of the two clubs.
“There will be great pride because it’s a team of champions who have already faced moments like these.
“They will have a great desire for revenge and to prove that they are a fantastic group of players.”
On the personnel front, the coach confirmed that fullback Alex Sandro is fully fit again and is also impressed by the versatility of Federico Bernardeschi, while also giving an update on Girgio Chiellini and Danilo.
“Alex Sandro is fine, he has recovered from his injury. He has had ways to train, he is one of the few who hasn’t had any problems and has been able to train regularly.
“Danilo is an option both in defence and in the middle, now let’s wait for the final sessions and then we’ll see.
“Bernardeschi can play both full-back and winger. Chiellini is fine, he returned from the national team because he couldn’t play the second and the third was on a synthetic pitch.
“We also thank [Italy CT Roberto] Mancini for this. We studied some variants, then they are to be put on the pitch and it was difficult by not having these players.”
Gianluigi Buffon was recently suspended for saying something blasphemous when he featured against Parma, and Juve are still waiting on the results of Wojciech Szczesny’s COVID test.
“We didn’t expect it for Gigi, but that too has arrived. We are waiting for Szczesny’s swab, otherwise Carlo Pinsoglio is ready.”
The futures of veterans Chiellini and Buffon have come into question in recent days as has Pirlo’s pedigree as a manager.
“We are still in this season and it’s normal that we think about this. It’s only right that I focus on the present.
“I take one game at a time and do my job. Then it’s clear that if you lose 10 out of 10 games, it’s right that you go home.
“[The purpose] has always been there, the team have always focused on only one target. They have thought about pulling in the same direction and will continue to do so.”