Juventus take on Empoli on Friday night in league action ahead of a pivotal Champions League group stage game next week at Benfica with their chances of making the knockout round hanging from a very thin thread.
Speaking during his pre-match press conference yesterday, embattled coach Massimiliano Allegri looked back at last weekend’s derby win over Torino as an important step forward.
“I think it was deserved, but in order to make that win relevant, we must continue to do the same.
“It won’t be easy against Empoli, they beat us in Turin last season. Empoli are a quick, technical team and physically challenging.
“We need to be on the same level as them, this is something we should no longer get wrong. We’ll hurt ourselves if we think we can beat them easily.”
Two key players in Federico Chiesa and Paul Pogba are training again, but Allegri poured cold water on fans hopes that they would be on the pitch soon.
“We must be realistic, Chiesa trained with the team twice, Pogba was partially involved, and he did something with the team, but not too much. It would be crazy to take risks.
“You should stop writing that [they will be available], you don’t lack imagination. Tomorrow, they won’t be available.
“Chiesa made some step forwards, On Saturday, we’ll organise a friendly to test him and see how he moves on the pitch.”
On the performances of his forwards Dusan Vlahovic, Arkadiusz Milik and Moise, Kean Allegri remained positive.
“Vlahovic played a technically good game, regardless of the goal. I am happy with Kean, he is improving, he is feeling ok physically and he makes himself available for the team. We need responsibility to gain results and I see encouraging signs.”
Rumours are circulating that Antonio Conte wants Leonardo Bonucci at Tottenham in January with the club captain having issues with Allegri, but the coach downplayed the talk.
“Leonardo is the team’s captain, a player with personality who I must manage like everyone else.
“He is a crucial player, whether he plays or not. It’s a general path that involves everyone, at 35, you don’t have the energy as when you were 20.
“That’s true of every player reaching a certain age. I am lucky enough to have six defenders and I can rotate them. I am happy with Leo, he is a responsible man and an added value, whether he plays or not.”