Juventus face their first big test of the season with a home game on Saturday evening hosting AS Roma led by Jose Mourinho. The side from the capital have picked up two identical 1-0 wins to start the season and have been very active in the summer mercato bringing in a number of players to bolster the squad, including a very familiar face to the Bianconeri in Paulo Dybala.
Speaking during his pre-match press conference today, coach Massimiliano Allegri started with a squad update starting with club captain Leonardo Bonucci, but also talked about the injuries to Angel Di Maria and goalie Wojciech Szczesny.
“Bonucci won’t be called up because he is still not well. He trained with the team yesterday, but he still feels something strange in his leg. Leo is an important player, so he must be 100% fit to play. We are just at the beginning, we will play a game every three days from next week.
“Di Maria has been partially training with the team. The target is Fiorentina, if everything goes well, he will join as against Spezia, but it’s difficult. Szczesny is available and could return, we don’t know when Federico Chiesa could return, the same goes for Pogba. I hope Di Maria and Bonucci return against Fiorentina.”
Striker Dusan Vlahovic was completely ineffective in the stalemate at Sampdoria, what needs to happen for him to get more involved than a mere nine touches in ninety minutes?
“I’d be happy if he scored a goal with one touch. We played badly against Sampdoria in the first half, but football games last 95 minutes, I got angry because we had to bite the game in the second half. We had chances, one goal was disallowed.”
Regarding the formation required for tomorrow -
“It’s the first direct clash against a Roma side that has begun the season well. It’s always a pleasure to meet José Mourinho. He is doing a great job. Roma haven’t yet conceded this season, I expect a balanced game.
“I must decide who plays in midfield and defence tomorrow and evaluate which players are available especially if Milik will be there. I expect a nice game, it’s only the third game of the season, we can improve our shape and the management of the game. We must remain calm because we don’t reach our targets tomorrow, we’ll need support from fans because we’ll struggle at times, against a strong team.
“Last season we put the basis to build something important and win, we’ll try to do it this season. At the end of the market, we’ll work with a well-defined team.”
We’ll see a return to Turin for former Juve player Paulo Dybala, who was a free agent signing for Mourinho this summer.
“We spent amazing seasons with Paulo. He scored incredible goals and he grew up here, entertaining the fans and us. He will be an opponent and it’s a pleasure to see him again.”
What were his thoughts on Juventus’ Champions League draw?
“Every Champions League game is challenging. PSG may be the best team in Europe, so it will be nice to face them. However, on paper, our direct opponent for the qualification is Benfica, but every game will be difficult. There are no easy games in Europe.”
On the signing of Arkadisusz Milik who has come in to reinforce the frontline -
“Only the results will tell if this is a better squad [than last season]. Now we must focus on the game, I am really happy about Milik. We made an important choice, he has astonishing figures and is a player who will strengthen the attack.
“He likes to drop back to receive the ball, so I think he could also play with Vlahovic. We must wait for final bureaucratic authorization, which I hope will be here today, so he will be available tomorrow.
“I haven’t decided on the line-up yet so, who knows, he could play from the start. I had an idea when I entered the dressing room…Let’s see, for sure, 11 will play otherwise, they’ll ban us!”
Allegri faced plenty of criticism for Juve’s tactics at the Marassi, with his side seemingly eschewing any midfield in that game, as this picture above seemed to show.
“We didn’t play well in the first half, but Sampdoria had a good game, they closed the spaces and let our defenders build up from the back. It’s true that we emptied the middle of the pitch so we didn’t play much in the middle, but games last 95 minutes, and we had to win in the second half.
“We emptied the midfield because the Mezzali (central midfielders) played as strikers. Locatelli came too deep, so there was nobody in the middle. In the second half, we filled the midfield again so we did a little better. We work every day to improve. We want to play good football and win, but I don’t want to hear about entertainment. I don’t want a pretty and losing team.
“Manuel Locatelli is doing well, he proved his worth last season, he can only improve and get in shape, I am happy, he can play in front of the defence, but it’s a new role, especially when we play with three midfielders. If Rovella plays in front of the defence, Locatelli can play on the right.
“Having fun for me means winning, we need time. I told the lads that we couldn’t do worst than what we did in the first half against Sampdoria, if we play like in the first half against Samp, of course, I don’t have fun.
“There is a good spirit and desire to reach the targets, there will be more games like the one against Samp, especially at the start of the season, the so-called dirty games. What we must do is avoid frustration because it can happen to us and everyone else.”