Juventus take on last year’s Champions League winners Chelsea tomorrow in Turin in Matchweek 2 of the group stages, and will face a difficult task against a deep squad that strengthened over the summer with key big-money additions.
Speaking during his pre-game press conference, coach Massimiliano Allegri started off on a playful note when asked what his starting lineup tomorrow would look like.
“I have confused ideas. We had a good training session, apart from Aaron Ramsey everybody is available, tomorrow we have to do what Giorgio Chiellini said.
“We need to play a very technical match, they are very solid, they’ve worked very hard, they are good in counter-attacks and set-pieces.
“We might concede goals, it could happen, we’ll have to start from the very beginning with a very good approach and play well on the pitch.”
Would Allegri switch to his go-to three-man backline tomorrow, especially with Chelsea also in the same formation?
“That’s the first doubt that I still have, it’s not a matter of defence with three players, it depends on how the ball goes.
“We have players with different qualities, we also have Kean, we’ll try to put two or three at the front, tomorrow morning I will decide the line-up.
“We must be balanced in our pressing and be able to play well, if, after five passes you give the ball to the opponent, you won’t be able to press the ball for 90 minutes.”
Is winning the Champions League this season a realistic expectation?
“It’s my ambition, it’s a desire that I have, when you play the Champions League you must have that motivation.
“Tomorrow we face the European champions, it will be an amazing night regardless of the result, it will be a great emotion, this will be what pushes you to do incredible things, if you qualify for the group stage it’s already a good objective, we want to reach the final, we all have this desire, it’s our target and we want to be able to reach that target, same for the scudetto.
“It’s a matter of personal ambition especially in a great club, it’s impossible to win every year, but this is what we are looking for. The desire that we all need to have.”
The coach added comments about a number of different players.
“Federico Bernardeschi has great potential, that hasn’t been fully expressed yet. He played a very good match against Samp, but he’s always played well. Everything depends on the mentality and the determination especially when you have the ball.
“Adrien Rabiot is available, his ankle is fine, so he’ll be available. Adrien is similar to Bernardeschi. If a big club like Juve chose these players there is a reason, the mentality makes the difference.
“They must be very determined in attending the training sessions, scoring, defending, these elements make the difference. How many good technical players haven’t been able to explode in their careers? If I was Rabiot I’d be very angry with myself, how many goals has he scored in two years here? Ten? It’s not acceptable, if I were him, I’d be very upset.
“He needs to improve all these things to get really better and I am sure he’ll be able to do it this year.”
Ahead of Sunday’s clash against Sampdoria Allegri had indicated he would name three starters for the Chelsea game and he came through.
“Wojciech Szczesny, Manuel Locatelli, Alex Sandro and Danilo.
“Tomorrow I want to see a good match from a technical point of view, we must be very patient and enjoy playing these kinds of matches. At the same time, we must be able to play an international match. If you make any mistake they’ll punish us. They punish us also here in Italy, tomorrow it will be even more. We’ll have to play very well.”
There are midfield reinforcements on the way with Arthur making his way back from injury, but Allegri was asked if he would have Rodrigo Bentancur beside Locatelli in the middle.
“Arthur is still behind, he has undergone physical tests and now, during the break, we’ll play two friendly matches to give him the opportunity to reach his best.
“My opinion of Bentancur is that he’s grown a lot. He had the possibility to score a goal last Sunday, but alone, this is my opinion, he can’t be a playmaker, he needs the collaboration from another player.”
With Juventus now putting together two straight league wins, where did he see some improvements needed from his squad?
“The important thing is to reach 100 per cent. Kean shouldn’t be given any extra responsibility, he can play and score goals, he kicks very well, he attacks very well he needs to improve when he has to play with the rest of the team and the ball controls, his individual technique, but considering his young age, he has already a lot of experience.
“As for Chiesa, I expect what he’s been doing so far, even better than that. I think he’s done a really good job. He scored crucial goals at the Euros and this put him in a condition where he is not the young player anymore, the margin for mistake is getting narrow, for him this year it’s going to be more challenging than last year.”
Premier League and Serie A comparisons continue to abound, what would Allegri say the key difference is?
“I don’t know if the Premier League is the most beautiful league, there is a different atmosphere and different football culture.
“I’ve never been a coach there, but I see people going to the stadium to see the show and support the players, in Italy there is a different culture, in Spain and Germany there are other cultures.
“Then, they have different economic resources, but this is a fact. In Italy we have an advantage. Somehow here in Italy we are smart enough to find solutions and fix things. This is part of the Italian DNA. We are Italy and that’s what we are like it or not. Of course, there is always room for improvement. Probably we are closer to the Germans, but we are different from the English.”