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Allegri: At Juventus you learn to live with the pressure

Coach’s comments ahead of big Juventus vs Napoli clash on Friday night

Juventus Training Session Photo by Daniele Badolato - Juventus FC/Juventus FC via Getty Images

Juventus are preparing to take on Napoli in a big clash that could have European qualification implications. The defending league champions are coming off a heavy 3-0 defeat to current leaders Inter Milan, with Juve having drawn against the Nerazzurri the week before that. Napoli’s loss saw them fall to fifth place with Roma vaulting over them and the chasing pack of Fiorentina and Bologna drawing closer as well.

Speaking during his pre-match press conference, coach Massimiliano Allegri spoke about his target for the first half of the season leading into the winter break.

“It’s another direct clash, there are five games left until the end of the first half and we still have two direct clashes with Napoli and AS Roma at home and three difficult away matches.

“Our goal is to score more points than last year in the first half which was 38, quite a few, and now we are at 33. The main objective is this.”

Allegri provided a squad update starting with Manuel Locatelli.

“Locatelli is fine, apart from Weah they’ve all recovered.

“I will decide tomorrow between Danilo and Alex Sandro, Alex came back very well but he was out for a long time and Danilo too, it could be that it will break the match with both of them. If Danilo plays, he’ll play in defence.”

The Bianconeri are in good form but Allegri preaches caution as always.

“We are all fine, after Inter and Monza there’s euphoria but for us it’s important to have clear objectives and at the moment it’s to score more points than last year in the first half.

“The second objective is to reach the end of the season in the top four and continue with our growth path. Without getting too excited, wanting to improve, these are the most important things.

“The matches must be played one at a time, tomorrow is difficult, complicated, Napoli despite the defeat were in the match against Inter had excellent chances.

“They scored 17 points away, they have a very important roadmap. Juve have won only one time in the last seven meetings, this is another goal we can achieve.”

How did Dusan Vlahovic handle missing a penalty last weekend?

“He’s fine like everyone else, penalties get missed.”

AC Monza v Juventus - Serie A TIM Photo by Jonathan Moscrop/Getty Images

After running away with the league title last season, Napoili have had a tough go of things this season and had to replace their coach too with former boss Walter Mazzarri returning.

“The Napoli players are the same, years change but they remain a strong team. This is demonstrated by the numbers they have put up on the road.”

Federico Gatti continues to prove his value to the Juventus side.

“Federico is doing well and has made giant strides, let’s remember that three years ago he played in the Lega Pro [Italian third tier]. He must improve like everyone else, he has the desire and the possibility to do so.”

Youngster Andrea Cambiaso is also doing well in the fullback/wingback role.

“He is an intelligent player who is very good at playing football, on the right he can perhaps enter further into the pitch and give us a hand in developing the play.”

How important was it to win tomorrow against the Neapolitans, especially with Juve’s current record against them not favorable?

“I want to see what they’ve given so far. In addition to the performances they’ve done well in other matches, the desire to be able to win every match. Compare every match. This is very important. Tomorrow will definitely be a good match.”

Was there any additional pressure on him with Juve continuing to improve?

“When you’re at Juventus you have to know how to live with the pressure on you, a title or a season doesn’t end tomorrow.

“To get above 38 points we have to do a lot because we have two head-to-head matches and three away games. The important thing is to maintain balance to face the season in the best way.

“Answering [constant criticism] is of no use, you just have to do it and bring home the results. Everyone is free to express themselves as they think, we just have to think about doing.”

Massimiliano Allegri, head coach of Juventus FC, reacts... Photo by Nicolò Campo/LightRocket via Getty Images

What had his side learned from the 5-1 spanking against Napoli last season?

“It’s not just from that match, last year there were players like Gatti and Bremer who were in their first year at Juventus in a difficult year.

“All situations help you grow if you experience them as opportunities for growth. The boys HAVE been good, they come to work to improve themselves every day.”

Club legend Gianluigi Buffon recently said that he felt Juventus have rediscovered their soul.

“It’s not compared to last year… When I say that we need to overcome the 38 points of last year’s first half, it’s because despite the difficulties last year we had a good first half. Let’s do a job where at the end of the game you have to bring home the result.”

With the losses of Paul Pogba and Nicolo Fagioli this season, will Juve be looking at midfielders in January?

“It would be better not to talk about the transfer market now, the most important thing is that the team manages to score as many points as possible before January 7.”