Juventus go into their second leg Coppa Italia semi-final clash against Fiorentina with questions marks around their recent performances. Fans and journalists alike have been criticizing coach Massimiliano Allegri heavily for the Bianconeri’s struggles which have seen them fall out of a possible challenge for the top three spots in the league, and now fourth spot is not guaranteed as well.
Tomorrow’s opponents have won three in a row and could still pressure Juve for the last Champions League spot, and Allegri knows it will be difficult even with an away goal lead from the first leg.
“It will be a tough game, Fiorentina have had a good run of form and I believe that Vincenzo Italiano is confirming the good things he did at Spezia. Tomorrow’s game will be different from the first leg.
“Substitutions will be important tomorrow, those starting will need to keep a high pace. Fiorentina play with a high rhythm in the opening 60-70 minutes, so we must be at the same level. They have good technical skills and are in shape. Leonardo Bonucci and Mattia Perin will start, but I’ll decide the line-up after tomorrow’s training session.
“Arthur isn’t available, we have two midfielders who are enough. We could see Danilo, let’s see where. We have Fabio Miretti, so there’s plenty of options.”
Would Allegri approach this game differently with that lead in hand?
“The result of the first leg doesn’t change much. Fiorentina create a lot, they beat Napoli and Venezia away and played well with Inter. We can’t think about the first leg tomorrow. We didn’t put in a bad performance against Bologna, but we wasted a few chances. This is the decisive part of the season. We have played many games and now we need something different.”
In his first spell at Juve, Allegri won a minimum of two trophies in every one of his five seasons in charge. However with the loss in the Supercoppa and the exit from the Champions League, the Coppa remains his only chance to redeem this season.
“If you win it [the Coppa Italia], it counts nothing, if you don’t win you have missed a target.
“As for Serie A, Juventus must think about finishing in the top four. We must protect our lead. It’s a balanced season. We didn’t win games were we played better [than our opponents]. We have missed that little something to win games and take a step forward. We must reflect and improve. Next year will be better, but now we must focus on this campaign.”
Juve struggled at home over the weekend and needed Bologna to go down to nine men and a late leveler from Dusan Vlahovic to grab a point, what were his thoughts on the performance?
“We watched the game against Bologna we were too passive defensively, in the first half and until we conceded the goal. Even in a bad performance, we created several goal opportunities. We are tenth for goals scored this season and we must improve. Football has evolved and there are many nice and innovative things, but one thing doesn’t change. You have to score goals and that’s where we must improve.”
Is the issue with Juve’s attack the service for Vlahovic?
“No, not at all. Vlahovic has scored seven, eight goals and games in the second part of the season are different. The ball is heavier.
“I don’t like talking, somebody else likes it more. I believe that we must be focused, criticism is good because it gives more motivation. We know how we work and what we do every day to achieve our targets. There are unexpected events sometimes and we don’t need to change the way we work, but evaluate the performance of the team and the single footballers.”