Juventus go into a pivotal clash against AC Milan this weekend, one that could determine not only the order of how teams will finish behind Inter Milan in the final league table but also a lucrative spot in the Champions League up for grabs.
Coach Andrea Pirlo, who starred for many years with the Rossoneri before switching to Turin and winning even more titles there, is ready for a competitive clash.
“I expect an entertaining and open game with Milan, as both teams like to press and attack, both want to take the initiative and I think it’ll be a great match.
“We have a full squad to choose from, everyone trained well over the last few days, so I can calmly choose the best possible line-up. There are also two players on yellow cards, so that could affect the decisions.”
The European Super League trio of Juve, Real Madrid and Barcelona continue to hold their stance on their breakaway league, and there have been rumours of UEFA levying a one or two-year suspension from European competition for the three sides.
“We continue to be concentrated only on the pitch so we can seek a Champions League place. What happens outside the turf should not be of interest to us.
“Last Sunday’s win against Udinese gave us a real boost. We are happy that it was Cristiano Ronaldo who overturned the result in Udine with his two goals.”
Tomorrow could see a battle between two prolific strikers who have both worn the Juventus colours.
“Ronaldo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic are two players who are good for football, champions everyone enjoys watching on the field.”
Pirlo also provided a squad update while addressing the fact that Juve have started the last couple of games in a lackadaisical manner.
“I can confirm Alvaro Morata is fit and would be ready to start. Adrien Rabiot came on with the right determination and made a decisive contribution in that game too, so he will start tomorrow. I had rested him because he seemed a little tired, but he had a great attitude as a substitute.
“Some changes will be necessary to maintain that high intensity that is so fundamental in modern football. It is fundamental we start with the right concentration.”
In a rather surprising aside, the coach hinted at some displeasure at midfielder Weston McKennie.
“He has a chance of starting. He has lost weight and that’s something we had to drill into his mindset. Now he is concentrated and more professional compared to when he arrived. He has to be professional at 100 per cent, not 50 per cent.”
With the season drawing to a close the transfer rumour mill has been churning away, with Milan goalkeeper Gigio Donnarumma being linked with a free agent move to the Bianconeri.
“It’s not a problem for me, he is a Milan player, so it’s their issue. I consider him to be one of the five best goalkeepers in the world. He’s an exemplary professional.”
Pirlo continues to grow weary of questions about his future with Juve.
“This is the time to focus on the present and remain concentrated on our objectives. There are four rounds to go plus the Coppa Italia Final with Atalanta.”