After an all-too-brief winter break, the Serie A resumes action tomorrow with Juventus taking on Napoli looking to reduce the five point margin that separates the two sides. Speaking ahead of the game during his pre-match press conference, coach Massimiliano Allegri started off with a squad update.
“Leonardo Bonucci is definitely out tomorrow and on Sunday, we’ll see for the Supercoppa. Danilo will be available next week, Luca Pellegrini and Kaio Jorge had a cold and won’t be there tomorrow, but we have Federico Chiesa and Paulo Dybala back.
“With Arthur, we have to wait and see if his latest COVID swab comes back negative. I have two defenders at my disposal and three full-backs. Juan Cuadrado is on a yellow card too, but we have three games in a row and can’t make many choices.
“I do have to pick who plays upfront, as Chiesa is in very good shape, but as he and Dybala are back from long injuries, they could alternate to get some playing time in their legs, so it’s one or the other.
“Manuel Locatelli will be in central midfield, with two from Weston McKennie, Adrien Rabiot and Rodrigo Bentancur starting.”
The game has been thrown into doubt with COVID cases continuing to rise throughout the country, but Napoli have been cleared to travel to Turin for this game.
“There are authorities who make those decisions. All we can do is train and play with those we have. It’s an emergency situation for everyone, we need to find solutions.
“We prepared to play this game and are ready. Napoli have five more points than we do and are playing good football. Let’s not forget, they were decimated against AC Milan and still won at San Siro a few weeks ago.”
The winners of this game will establish their credentials for a Champions League berth, but is the Scudetto out of reach for either side?
“Inter are clearly the favourites to win the Scudetto. I hope Simone Inzaghi will forgive me for this, but it’s Inter’s to lose. We have to take it one step at a time and see what happens.”
There appears to have been interest in Alvaro Morata from Barcelona, with the striker having agreed to personal terms with the Catalans and his parent club Atletico Madrid also willing to cut short his loan at Juventus. The Bianconeri’s stance has been that he is free to leave if they can find another striker, but Allegri strongly discounted that possibility.
“I told Alvaro that he is staying here, he is not leaving Juventus, end of story,”
One player who will indeed be leaving in January is Aaron Ramsey.
“Ramsey is on the way out of Juventus. I think that the squad will 99 per cent remain what it is right now.”