Juventus take on Atalanta tomorrow in a league match that could likely have direct bearing on who snags the last Champions League qualifying spot from Italy this season. Juve sit in fourth spot currently, two points ahead of tomorrow’s hosts who also have a game in hand. A win for the Bianconeri would see that stretched to five points, while a loss could see that margin eventually become four points for Atalanta.
Coach Massimiliano Allegri attempted to play down the significance of the clash much like he always does.
“A direct clash for fourth place, an important but not decisive match, it’s a good game. Atalanta have shown over the years that they’ve earned the space to always fight for the top four places, and they’ll be angry after their defeat in the Coppa Italia. We’ll need a high-level performance.”
Allegri didn’t drop too many hints on who would start the game especially in the middle of the pitch, but did indicate he could roll out his trio of forwards again.
“I don’t know the condition of those who played on Thursday, we’ve had two tough games. After the arrival of Vlahovic and Zakaria there was an expenditure of energy and enthusiasm, we have to evaluate after the training session.
“I’m calm because the substitutions gave us a lot on Thursday too, and that’s how it should be until the end of the season. We have to be good all the time, even when we’re called upon in the middle of a game.
“The trident can be deployed or not deployed. It depends on the condition of the three players. But Moise Kean is back and he’s doing well, while Federico Bernardeschi won’t be in the match and will be back in the team on Monday.”
Despite two wins in a row now, Allegri insisted there was still lots of room for improvement as well as balance within his side.
“We must always improve. In our choices, in the precision of our passing. Then with Sassuolo it was a particular match, after the lead we left the game. As long as we are playing football, everyone can and must improve.
“In football you need balance. We’re coming from a good period, but not from now but from ten or twelve games. We always have to have individual moments on our side, we have to be focused on what we’re doing and not think.
“We’ve reached the semi-final of the Coppa Italia, now we have to think about settling the league game by game and the more we go on the more difficult it is to win because points count more. You have to be good when the ball is decisive.”
New signing Dusan Vlahovic has now bagged twice in two games, with both goals proving to be game-winners.
“Vlahovic’s arrival brought a player who was missing in the team. We are all working with a different enthusiasm. But I repeat to the point of boredom, we haven’t done anything yet, the norm for Juventus is to win games.”
Allegri commented on his opposite number, Atalanta coach Gian Piero Gasperini, who continues to mold his side into a top outfit year after year.
“After two defeats and two draws we might have to win… I don’t need to tell you the extraordinary work done by Gasperini in these years. He has always brought out the best from the players and from the team, so we must congratulate him.”
The coach was also asked about his other signing Denis Zakaria, who has had an immediate impact as well, and how he plans to rotate his squad to keep everyone fresh.
“He knows how to play football. He’s settled in well because he’s found a team that’s ready for him.
“We have a game every three days, the more we go on, the more room there will be for everyone.”