Juventus go to 11th placed Udinese on Sunday knowing that anything less than a victory will make the challenge of qualifying for the Champions League next season even more difficult. The Bianconeri sit in fourth place, tied on points with Napoli ahead of them and AC Milan behind them, with Atalanta just two points in front. All those teams will have played before Juve take to the pitch tomorrow and Andrea Pirlo knows Udinese will be a tough test.
“Udinese are a very physical team full of players who also have great technical quality, not just Rodrigo De Paul and Roberto Pereyra.
“They concede very few goals, defend well and are organised. It’s a difficult game that awaits us, but we have an objective in our minds.”
Alvaro Morata has worked well as a focal point for the team in attack, but appears to be a doubt for the game.
“Cristiano Ronaldo will play with Paulo Dybala, because Morata is not in good shape. He had a problem yesterday with his calf muscle and we’ll evaluate his condition today.
“We will decide whether or not to bring him to Udine with us tomorrow. Danilo is fine, Federico Chiesa less so, as he trained separately from the group this week. He is not at 100 per cent yet and it’d be risky to start him tomorrow.
“Arthur only trained with the team yesterday due to another problem, Aaron Ramsey is still separate. We’ve had a few issues. Dejan Kulusevski trained with his teammates all week and could start.”
Speculation about Pirlo’s future continues to mount after Exor chairman John Elkann visited the training facilities and Massimiliano Allegri continues to be tipped for a return. Pirlo however remains unfazed.
“I am fine, I spoke to the owners the other day, as often happens. It certainly wasn’t the first time. We had a chat about everything, as always. I am not concerned when it comes to my work. I only hear rumours from you reporters. I am relaxed and concentrated on what I need to do, I’m not influenced by all these rumours.
“I am so concentrated on what I need to do that I don’t have time to read the newspapers.”
The rumour mill continues to churn, saying that Pirlo will certainly be shown the door if Juve don’t finish in the top four spots and qualify for next season’s Champions League.
“The team is fully aware that this is a difficult moment. We talked about it, there are five games with 15 points up for grabs, then the Coppa Italia Final with Atalanta.
“It’s a delicate time, we must try to get points to qualify for the Champions League and every match is important, starting tomorrow with Udinese.”
The vitriol flying around on social media nowadays seems to have escalated lately, with Pirlo’s son the target of death threats even as a number of leagues and clubs are marking a social media boycott this weekend.
“Having been in this world for many years, I know what it means to be a public figure. I see nothing new in these insults from people who hide behind a keyboard.
“I’m sorry for my son, because he has nothing to do with it, and I explained to him that he just has to ignore it. This is a social problem. We must eliminate it with calm, hoping we can change the world for the better.”