Juventus will finally play their rescheduled fixture against Napoli from earlier in the season with the Bianconeri at a crisis point for the club right now. Their title challenge is all but over with rookie coach Andrea Pirlo struggling to implement a playing style and individual errors continuing to compound on the pitch.
Tomorrow they take on the Neapolitans who are tied with Juve for fourth place and a defeat would seriously jeopardize chances of playing in he Champions League next season for Pirlo’s side.
Speaking during his pre-match press conference, Pirlo was up for the challenge.
“It will be an important match for the table. Napoli are experiencing a positive period.
“We want to play the game and try to score goals. I expect an open match and I hope it will be a great game.”
Despite his errors Wojciech Szczesny will start in goal and Pirlo hinted that he could use Juan Cuadrado further up to provide more creativity in attacking positions.
“Szczesny is confirmed because after a bad performance, there’s always the desire for redemption.
“As for Cuadrado, we are trying some solutions, he could play high or low.”
The timing of this game could not be worse for Juve with now Merih Demiral, Leonardo Bonucci and Federico Bernardeschi all testing positive for COVID-19.
“We respect the protocol as always and we are in tune with what the ASL says. We will present ourselves as we have always done.”
There has been plenty of chatter that Pirlo has lost the dressing room and his players have lost faith in him, but the former midfielder insisted it wasn’t so.
“I’m always in contact with them. I like to talk before and after training, I feel great confidence.
“The players follow me, they want revenge and they are the first to be sad about the situation.”
After their suspension for breaking quarantine rules, Paulo Dybala, Weston McKennie and Arthur Melo are all back in training, with Pirlo expecting the forward to feature against Napoli.
“Paulo is fine, he has trained with the group and has resumed kicking the ball. He is back at my disposal and I hope to have him ready to play tomorrow.
“It’s normal that he doesn’t have 90 minutes in his legs, but having him available for us already means a lot.”
Dejan Kulusevski and Alvaro Morata have also come in for criticism recently.
“I also spoke with Kulusevski yesterday, I reassured him because he happens to make mistakes. He needs to keep his head up; everyone has faith in him.
“Morata has not scored for a few games, but we aren’t worried, he’s important for us also in the build-up phase.”
Was Pirlo worried for his future after news of Club President Andrea Agnelli and former manager Max Allegri came out?
“I have daily contact with the President, we always tell each other all the things that happen.
“I was aware of this meeting and his confidence, then it’s normal that it’s up to me to prove that I can be the coach next season.”
Pirlo has often looked unprepared in his first full-time coaching stint, is the job bigger than he anticipated?
“I didn’t expect such a difficult year between matches and injuries. With this international calendar there has been an accumulation of commitments that have led to this being such a special year that we shouldn’t repeat.
“This year, a lot has happened that will help me grow and from here we will start again.”