Juventus have a rare Friday night game this week, and it promises to be a big one too as they take on local rivals Torino in the latest edition of the hotly-contested Derby della Mole. Speaking during his pre-match press conference, coach Massimiliano Allegri revealed that Leonardo Bonucci would miss this game with a new injury.
“Tomorrow’s game is really complicated. Surely there won’t be Leonardo Bonucci. He has calf fatigue and we’ll see if he can recover for Tuesday. He played in Bergamo and he was already fatigued in the first half.
“I don’t know if Dusan Vlahovic, Alvaro Morata and Paulo Dybala will play. Federico Bernardeschi is still not ready because of an adductor problem, so we can’t take any risk. Federico Chiesa is out, Giorgio Chiellini is out, Danilo is suspended.
“Juan Cuadrado will play at right-back tomorrow. Moise Kean is feeling better and tomorrow I will decide who will play in attack, he played well against Atalanta and is an important player, especially now with so many games. I have doubts in midfield Zak [Denis Zakaria] or McKennie, Locatelli or Arthur.”
Regarding opponents Torino who have lost their last two games, Allegri was complimentary of coach Ivan Juric.
“The derby is always a special game, we play against a Torino side that has the real soul of the Granata. Ivan Juric has brought their DNA back to the club.
“Ivan did well at Verona and is doing well at Torino. Torino, Verona and Atalanta are physical teams that play with great intensity.
“We’ll play at home, I know the stadium will be sold out, although the capacity is reduced to 50%. It will be a complicated game, the third against teams that play in the same way. I hope we learned something in the first two.”
The coach has come in for some criticism, mostly from fans, for his decisions in the 1-1 draw at Atalanta where it looked like he was happy to play for the draw. What was his reasoning behind holding off on making any substitutions until almost the end of the game?
“The team was playing well and we conceded a goal from a set-piece. The glass is half full anyway. It’s not easy to play against Atalanta, it was a good draw. Even if they have a game in hand, we are still in front of them. We must continue like this.
“We must remain optimistic, but this doesn’t mean we are happy. The draw against Atalanta will be exceptional if we win tomorrow. The extraordinary thing about football is that a draw looks like a defeat, but every point counts at the end of the season.
“I’d like to win every game, but it’s difficult. Even a draw is important, you can win or lose the title for one point.”
Alvaro Morata has stepped up his game with the arrival of Dusan Vlahovic, would Juventus entertain making his loan permanent this summer?
“Morata is doing well, it’s crazy to question his technical abilities. He is doing well, but now we must be focused on the moment. We have the last three months of the season and we need to achieve something extraordinary. In June, we’ll see.”
When asked what the coach would describe as the identity of this Juventus team, Allegri looked to get a dig in at a particular player who left the club earlier this season.
“I think that personal targets have been put aside, focusing on the team. We’ve been together for six-seven months now. We are knowing each other a little more, we feel more like a team.
“There is enthusiasm and desire to win even if it will be very difficult this season. We have important targets. Tomorrow’s match is crucial for our season because then we need to prepare for another game with Villareal in the Champions League, which will be completely different from the one of tomorrow.”
With Juventus traveling to Spain next week to take on Villarreal in the Champions League, did the coach watch the first four games of the Round of 16 this week?
“Inter must be praised for their performance, it was a great game, but they played against a very experienced team with players accustomed to playing big matches and Champions League Finals.
“Champions League has slightly changed because of the [new] away goal rule. There is a gap, but anything can happen in Europe. However, the English clubs, PSG, Bayern and Real Madrid are the main candidates to win the tournament, but this doesn’t mean that others can’t have the ambition to win it.”