Juventus are preparing for the second leg of their Champions League Round of 16 clash against Villarreal tomorrow. With no away goals rule to decide the winner of the duel and the first leg ending in a 1-1 draw, the winner in Turin will be moving on, even if it takes extra time or a penalty shootout.
Speaking before the game, coach Massimiliano Allegri provided a squad update.
“Giorgio Chiellini, Paulo Dybala and Federico Bernardeschi return. Hopefully, we’ll win in 90 minutes. Otherwise, we’ll need extra time. Substitutions will be important.
“Leonardo Bonucci is out, he played at Empoli and against Villarreal despite not feeling well. He has a calf problem and can’t get over it. Alex Sandro felt something in the soleus muscle [ankle], it’s tricky, so I won’t take any risk. It’s not the last game of the season.
“We’ll assess Denis Zakaria in the next few days, he could return on Thursday or after the break. We have the last two efforts and then we’ll have some time to recover.”
What will Allegri’s approach be for the game especially since a win is required?
“I have clear ideas, hopefully, I’ll get it right. The team is feeling well. It’s the decisive moment of the season.
“We must have the ambition to reach the final, it’s a target we have so we must try. If we are good and lucky, we’ll make it, if the others are better than us, we won’t make it. We can’t have regrets, tomorrow is like a final that we play at home.
“Dusan Vlahovic will play, Alvaro Morata is in good form and he’s always had quality. He was always criticised despite playing in a position that was not his natural one. I am happy with him, he is playing well with Vlahovic, he has more freedom on the pitch. We all feel well, we’ll also need a bit of luck to qualify.”
Juventus have made big strides after a horrendous start to the season, and now have 22 points in 2022, better than any other team in Serie A.
“The lads are doing well, we’ve become a solid group and it’s thanks to them.
“However, we’ve done nothing so far. We can’t lose balance, we must keep our feet on the ground and take a step at a time. The target was to get to March and play for our targets. We are here, there’s adrenaline, fans will have to help us.
“Villarreal are an experienced team, with a very good coach. They concede almost nothing, we must make as few mistakes as possible and prepare the game well. We took some risks in Spain, but we also had a few chances to double the lead.
“The ball is smaller and heavier in March, it’s a funny moment of the season. We are in the race for three targets, now we need to reach them.”
Allegri was joined in the press conference by midfielder Manuel Locatelli, who talked about what Juve would need to do for victory, and how the team has developed under Allegri.
“The commitment will be the key. We must have more determination and desire to win. Hopefully, we’ll manage to win the game.
“We have improved as a group, we are united and there is a different air. We are doing well and we are happy. The club’s mentality impressed me, you feel it since the very first day. You have to adapt, or you can’t stay here. It’s unique and it’s a great thing.
“The coach is asking us to play and have a positive attitude. We know each other well, we are happy, we must continue like this because we have done nothing so far.
“I still have to improve and be more consistent during games. There is a coach who is teaching us this, we must follow him as we have ample room for improvement.”