Juventus host Bologna tomorrow looking to consolidate their hold on fourth place and the last spot in the Champions League. Speaking ahead of the game, coach Massimiliano Allegri sent his best wishes to Bologna coach Siniša Mihajlović who is undergoing further treatment for leukemia.
“First of all, I wish a speedy recovery to Siniša, who unfortunately won’t be there tomorrow.”
Allegri previewed the remainder of the season for the Bianconeri.
“We have worked well this week. Bologna are in a good moment. They picked up a draw with Milan and won the last home game.
“Six games are remaining, including the last two against teams right behind us in the table. Fiorentina have the best fixture list. We need to collect at least ten more points to make it into the top four. We’ll think about the Coppa Italia from tomorrow.”
The injury crisis at Juve has not let up its hold on his squad, and he’s desperately short of bodies in midfield.
“Leonardo Bonucci is feeling well, but only one between him and Giorgio Chiellini will play because we have a Coppa Italia match on Wednesday, so I’ll decide who starts tomorrow.
“Juan Cuadrado has extended his contract. He feels well. I only have two midfielders [Denis Zakaria and Adrien Rabiot], so I’ll need to add someone if I pick a three-man midfield. I haven’t decided yet.”
Juve’s trophy hunt for the season has drawn a blank so far, but the Coppa is the last opportunity to change that.
“Right now, we could be happy about the season. We are still not in the top four, which was the target at the beginning of the campaign. We are fourth, but six games are remaining.
“I am happy with the team’s development, but I am upset because we were eliminated from the Champions League. Sometimes you can’t win trophies, but you have the opportunity to prepare for the future. I believe that we’ve started a good path this season, but at the moment, we can’t judge what we’ve done.
“It’s the crucial part of the season and we must reach the minimum target, collecting as many points as possible.”
Club vice president Pavel Nedved appeared livid when the coach pulled off Paulo Dybala last weekend, has the issue been resolved?
“He reacted to something that happened on the pitch. When you watch games from the stands, it’s difficult to remain still all the time.
“There are no problems. We are working well together with him, Cherubini and the President. We must end the season well and begin the next one even better.
“Paulo [Dybala] is doing well. He has had a difficult season also because of injuries. I expect a lot from him and the other players because we must collect as many points as possible.”
Football in Italy appears to be going though a phase with the national team now missing out on their second consecutive World Cup, while AS Roma is the only Italian side in any of the three continental competition semi finals.
“It seemed that all Italy’s problems had been solved after the Euros, but many factors must be considered. Just think about the incomes of Italian football compared to the Premier League’s.
“When clubs go out from Europe or the national team don’t qualify for the World Cup, all the problems emerge. But problems don’t come out in a day, they are always there.
“Unfortunately, nobody wants to face them in Italy. We need to take a direction, which may be right or wrong, but we can’t know until we decide. In Italy, we don’t like to do it. I am happy for Roma and sorry for Atalanta. We must try to do more from next season, but there isn’t just one problem.”
With Real Madrid once again in the Champions League last four, does Allegri still have no regrets about declining that job to come back to Turin?
“Not at all. I am happy to be back here. My 10-year-old son lives here in Turin and this is another reason he decided to return. I wanted to work again with Juventus and make four good years, building something meaningful.
“I have no regrets. I am lucky and I am working at a good level. I’ve taken many satisfactions and I hope more will come together with the club.”