Juventus take on bottom side Sampdoria tomorrow as they return to league action looking to bounce back from last weekend’s loss away at AS Roma. Massimiliano Allegri’s side will no doubt be looking ahead to the return leg of their Europa League game in Germany on Thursday against Freiburg, but the coach is well aware of the dangers even a basement-dwelling side can pose.
“On the surface it looks easy, but Sampdoria’s recent results can be deceiving, they have always lost by a narrow margin.
“Tomorrow is a very important match for the league table, for the first time we can go second by going three points above Inter.”
The coach provided a squad update after commenting on the status of Paul Pogba who missed the first leg of the game after being dropped from the matchday squad for showing up late to a team meeting.
“Pogba is available, it’s not that he was late and didn’t play on Thursday so he’ll stay out. I don’t know the starting lineup yet, but two will certainly play, there is the return of Mattia Perin and then the striker, Dusan Vlahovic.
“I haven’t decided yet, I have to assess Leonardo Bonucci’s recovery, Danilo’s condition, Bremer. Then I’ll decide. There’s also Daniele Rugani and Federico Gatti ready to play. If I decide to play them, there would be no problem.
“Mattia De Sciglio and Samuel Iling are back. Arkadiusz Milik, we hope to have him for Inter, Federico Chiesa will be out tomorrow but hopefully back for Thursday. Angel Di Maria is resting and will be available on Thursday.”
What would he do differently with Di Maria and Chiesa unavailable?
“It’s the characteristics of the players that are different, it’s not the number of forwards. We have Compagnon with us from the Next Gen, if we need him he will be useful.
“It’s important that the team understands the importance of the match, knowing that Sampdoria are a well-organised team that run and press all over the pitch.”
He made some encouraging comments about Vlahovic who has been going through a dry spell in recent weeks, with his last goal coming in the first leg draw against Nantes in the previous round of continental competition.
“Dusan has fully recovered. On Thursday I took him off, Di Maria was doing well, and Chiesa could have been a weapon. Dusan would have been the only forward. Happy with his performance.
“Physically he’s much better. I’m very confident. Players go through moments like that, especially forwards who are judged by their goals. I believe that technically he played good games.”
Was this a decisive week for Juventus’ season, with a trip to Inter Milan in the Derby D’Italia next weekend?
“More than decisive it’s important, we have to be aware of tomorrow night’s game because the league finish is made with the smaller teams. On these sides you must not make mistakes and tomorrow is a very risky game.”
As is now regular, Allegri is asked every week about how the 15-point deduction levied on the club has affected his and the squad’s motivation.
“It is neither an obstacle nor a source of motivation. Us on the pitch must score the points we need. Winning the league is difficult, but we are in a position to take a piece of the advantage tomorrow. Then I repeat, what happens outside should not interest us.”
Young midfielder Nicolo Fagioli has been thrust into the spotlight this season with the club’s injury woes.
“We all had confidence in him, I didn’t imagine him to be so mature. I think he needs to improve in the scoring phase, he can score a few more goals.”
Club captain Bonucci is finally fully fit again.
“Football is strange, my idea was to play him as a starter tomorrow, but he had to come on for Alex Sandro. Tomorrow morning I’ll see, if he’s well he could play from the start.”