Juventus are in Naples for a top of the table clash that could go a long way towards determining who controls the league at the halfway mark. Runaway leaders Napoli dropped three points away at Inter last week to leave everyone else with a glimmer of a hope, with Juve leading the pack seven points behind.
Massimiliano Allegri’s side take on the Partenopei looking to make that margin a much more manageable four points, but it will take a Herculean effort to stretch their eight game winning streak, much less extending their run of eight consecutive clean sheets against the top scoring side in the league.
The coach started off his pre-match press conference with a status update on his side.
“The team feels well, we worked for three days and we are quite fit, let’s see what we can do. There is a rule in football. What you do in a game, means nothing the following day.
“We need to keep a low profile and work hard. There are many things we have to improve to reach our target which is to reach a Champions League placement.”
While six players — Dusan Vlahovic, Paul Pogba, Leonardo Bonucci, Mattia De Sciglio, Juan Cuadrado and Kaio Jorge — did not make the trip, would Federico Chiesa start on Friday night?
“He is feeling much better, and I am really happy. If I was sure he’d make the difference coming off the bench tomorrow, he’d start on the bench, but I can’t predict the future, we’ll see.”
The Neapolitan side are an attacking force to contend with, so how was he planning to slow them down considering Juve are also the best defensive side in the Scudetto race?
“We still haven’t prepared anything, we must fix two or three things. It will be a nice game tomorrow, a nice night of football in a sold-out stadium but it won’t be decisive for the season. It’s more important for them than for us.
“We need to put in a technical performance, we play against the best team in the league, it’s the table saying so. It will be a nice game, we must have enthusiasm.”
Allegri had a lot of positive things to say about his opposite number Luciano Spalletti.
“Napoli are the favourite to win the title, they have 44 points and only lost one game. They are technically strong and coached very well. Luciano is the best when it comes to coaching and teaching and he is proving so at Napoli.
“I respect Spalletti so much, he is so funny that sometimes we clash as we did last season. I am also a coach, but I do this job by chance, I should have been doing something else. Luciano is so, so good, he’s the best when it comes to teaching football.”
Any words for the outgoing club President Andrea Agnelli who resigned under a cloud in late November, and a new Board expected to be in place before Juve play again.
“There isn’t much to say about Agnelli. The results he has achieved in the last 12 years speak for themselves. I am grateful to him for allowing me to coach Juventus, stay close to me and work together for many years.”