Juventus go to Cagliari this weekend looking to get back on track securing fourth position in the league. With seven games left in the season, AS Roma sit five points and Lazio seven points behind the Bianconeri, while Atalanta and Fiorentina are eight and nine points away respectively, though they both have a game in hand too.
Speaking ahead of the trip to Sardinia, coach Massimiliano Allegri spoke to the media about the difficulty that Cagliari pose.
“It’s going to be very complicated. Cagliari suffered a bad loss in Udine. It’s always hard to play in Cagliari. They are a physical team. I think it will be an ugly game technically and we must be aware of that.
“It’s essential to win, Roma are just five points behind us and many games are remaining.”
The coach provided a squad update as well, with some bad news.
“We have one last training session today. Unfortunately, Manuel Locatelli will remain out for four weeks, Alvaro Morata and Mattia De Sciglio are suspended. We have a few absentees, but this is no excuse. Leonardo Bonucci is feeling better, I will decide where he’ll start or go on the bench.
“Adrien Rabiot feels more comfortable in a two-man midfield. He played well against Inter, also technically. I think he will improve. We need to play some games with a three-man midfield.
“It can be the right game for Moise Kean, Federico Bernardeschi, Dusan Vlahovic, it must be the right game for everyone. We must be more clinical up front. We are missing goals right now and that’s the difference between us and those ahead of us.”
Juve’s loss at home to Inter Milan last weekend ended any chances of a top three spot, what reaction did he see from the players in training?
“There is just one possible reaction. Play good games. Tomorrow’s match will be very different from the one against Inter. It’s never easy to win in Cagliari and we must be prepared, knowing the opponents, their moment and the environment.
“We must win games, that’s the only thing we must think about. There are all the conditions to do well. Our target is to get on the top four. For now, we are there, but Roma are close. That’s why we need a great performance tomorrow. We can take no risks, we need to adapt to the game. Tomorrow’s match is too important.”
The defeat did not come for lack of chances or because Juve did not play well, something the coach was at pains to explain.
“We played the best games against Atalanta, Villarreal and Inter at home, but we were not clinical enough. We need to improve and be more serene in those situations. I can understand errors in one or two games, but three is an important number and that’s why we need to improve.
“I’ve analysed what I saw against Inter. I always think about what the team is doing. We deserve to be fourth. We need to work to improve and we can improve before the end of the season. We can work on the development of the single footballers and we have more time because we’ll play one game per week, except the Coppa Italia semi-final with Fiorentina.
“I don’t like compliments, otherwise, we become a team that is satisfied with compliments and finds excuses. I don’t want excuses or compliments, I want victories.”
How is he going to keep Paulo Dybala motivated considering the decision has been made that he will be leaving at the end of the season?
“We have time to work during the week but at the same time, we have targets. Every player in the team must give his contribution and help us reach a top-four finish, regardless of their future. We have five or six players with a contract expiring. Right now, we must focus on the pitch and on getting results.
“I think Juventus have created a lot in the last three or four months. We haven’t scored much and we must be more efficient up front.
“Had we won against Inter, we would have had a small chance [to win the title], but now we need to focus on our target, we must be lucid. Tomorrow’s game is a tough game, which we need to play in a certain way. We are fourth and we deserved so, when we were tenth, we deserve to be tenth. The rest doesn’t count.”
Weston McKennie was expected to be out for the season, but now it looks like he might be recovered from his surgical procedure in time for the last few games.
“Right now, he is just walking. Hopefully, he can return at the beginning of May and be available for the last four or five matches.”