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Allegri: Juventus start to the season not gone as expected

Coach’s comments as Juve face Napoli test on Saturday

Juventus v Empoli FC - Serie A Photo by Sportinfoto/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

After a false start to the season Juventus have an opportunity to make amends tomorrow in a difficult clash against Napoli. The Bianconeri conceded a later equalizer in their opener against Udinese, before losing at home to newly-promoted Empoli a week later.

Speaking ahead of the game, coach Massimiliano Allegri confirmed that the Bianconeri’s South American contingent of Paulo Dybala, Danilo, Alex Sandro, Rodrigo Bentancur and Juan Cuadrado would not be available for the trip to Naples, and neither would Federico Chiesa.

“Tomorrow’s game will be a nice one against a strong team who won their first two games.

“I decided to leave the South Americans at home because they will return too late. Cuadrado was the only one who could have joined the team, but he suffered stomach flu. He hasn’t even returned to Italy yet. He is in still Colombia to undergo some medical examinations.

“Luckily, we have three players from the U23 squad, De Winter, Sule and Miretti, who will travel with the senior team, perhaps they can play if we need.”

With the Champions League group stages kicking off next week, are Juve already struggling with fixture congestion?

“This is the situation, I’ve never complained about the fixture list. Some players finished their international games at 3 am last night and would return to Turin at 11 am tomorrow morning.

“We don’t want to run the risk they pick up injuries, so they will remain in Turin to work, it makes more sense. We have an important Champions League game next week, the first one of the season.

“However, this should not be an excuse because all the players on the pitch tomorrow will play a great game. Tomorrow they can prove they are fit, we have an exciting month ahead.”

Chiesa appeared to have picked up a muscle injury with Italy during the international break where the Azzurri broke the record for the longest international unbeaten streak.

“Chiesa had a muscular issue, the tests showed no lesion, but I prefer to rest him as a precaution.

“The lad is a bit worried, when you have a muscular issue, there could be something behind it.”

Regarding tomorrow’s opponents and what Allegri will need to do to get Juve their first win of the season -

“It will be an intense game, much awaited by Napoli too. Mattia De Sciglio and Luca Pellegrini are ready, I need to decide who will play.

“Napoli are among the candidates to win the title along with seven or eight other clubs, the season is still long and we need to remain balanced.

“There are many games, the first two matches didn’t go as we expected, but this is football, we must keep things simple and start the season because we haven’t started yet.”

Weston McKennie fell afoul of the US soccer authorities for violating COVID protocols and was sent back to Turin early.

“McKennie trained well, he will start tomorrow, but I still need to decide his position.”

Moise Kean celebrated his return to Italy during the transfer window with a brace for the national team and should be ready to don the black and white stripes again.

“He is a young striker, he did well at PSG, scoring a few goals and he would have returned to Juventus even if Ronaldo had stayed.”

On the topic of Ronaldo, Allegri seems ready to not have to hear his name mentioned at Juventus press conferences any more.

“Ronaldo didn’t want to play for Juventus anymore, so he returned to Manchester United. It would have been his last season at Juventus, so we anticipated what we would have done next summer.

“Cristiano spent three amazing years at Juventus and we wish him the best, but life goes on. I don’t like to think about what could have happened, in life, you need to be practical.

“Here at Juventus, the group has always won trophies, not the single footballer. We have this characteristic in our DNA made of self-love and sacrifice. In order to be competitive and win, we must have ambition and passion.”