After a mostly positive international break for Juventus, the club returns to Serie A action this weekend with a game against Hellas Verona. Speaking ahead of the Saturday game, coach Massimiliano Allegri started off with a squad update considering the number of injuries his side is carrying as well as the packed fixture list lying ahead of his side with two games a week for the rest of the month.
“I still have to decide, Alex Sandro has been out for three weeks and on Tuesday we have an important game in the Coppa Italia, so I’ll have to assess the whole line-up tomorrow morning.
“Federico Chiesa is very calm because he was not called up, he always has this discomfort. Today he worked well but under the pain threshold, we’re working to have him fully available on Tuesday.
“Dusan Vlahovic is back well, Arkadiusz Milik is better, Moise Kean the same. Mattias Soulé did well in Milan, Angel Di Maria is back and will be available. It’s important to have them all, they give me the possibility to change and rotate.
“The substitutions will be even more important, we’re heading towards the end of the season where we only have nine games in April and we’ll get to the final goal of playing 58 games.”
Both Angel Di Maria and Filip Kostic appeared to have picked up injuries on national team duty.
“Kostic’s back and he’s fine, he did all the training except the first one, which he did separately. He can play tomorrow.
“Di Maria is not likely to start, he came back yesterday. He’s fine because he had a good training session today, but he’ll be an asset in the game.”
Paul Pogba had another setback a few weeks ago and Allegri did not seem optimistic of having him back any time soo.
“At the moment I can’t say when he will be available again. He’s working, at the moment it’s difficult to say. The adductor is fine, let’s see training after training how the knee will react.”
Allegri also spoke about the tremendous strides young midfielder Nicolo Fagioli has taken this season.
“He’s grown a lot, he still has to do it because he’s only at the beginning. I spoke to him because there’s a lot of talk about him at the moment, but this is an important moment for him.
“It’s important for him to keep his feet firmly planted on the ground and not go after these rumours of exaltation. We must neither get excited nor depressed, we must have a balance to finish well at the end of the season.”
Which of the youngsters in the squad would feature tomorrow?
“I still have to decide. For sure, with Paredes and Rabiot disqualified, that leaves Miretti, Barrenechea, Locatelli and Fagioli. With Soulé who can also be an additional midfielder. Of these, three will play.
“They have been with the first team for a long time. They have played many games. It turns out that in Juventus these boys played over 4,000 minutes. Important data above all for the future of the team, in addition to these let’s not forget that Vlahovic and Kean are just 23.
“Then Gatti, who arrived from Frosinone. Juve has youth, quality, otherwise they would not play, and a future. With others out in Serie A who are owned by Juventus.”
Tomorrow’s opponents Hellas Verona sit in 18th place, six points clear of the bottom side Cremonese.
“We can’t think that we won at Inter and everything was solved, victories must be enjoyed and we have had a week with great enthusiasm, at the same time tomorrow is a dangerous game.
“Verona attack, they play all-out, we struggled there, teams playing against them always find it difficult and you have to match them.
“As the game goes on, if we are at that level there the qualities will come out. We have to switch, the period after Inter is over and now another one begins with other goals.”
What concerns does he have with nine games to play over the next thirty days?
“The only one is trying to win as many games as possible to have a wonderful May. This is the schedule and we have to manage it in the best possible way.
“In the meantime, we have recovered all the players except Bonucci, Pogba and Kaio and Chiesa tomorrow, but that’s a matter of two days.
“We’re heading towards a beautiful but tiring end to the season, we need to have great enthusiasm because being able to play important matches in April is a great satisfaction.”
Moise Kean’s two year loan back from Everton ends this season with the Bianconeri obligated to buy him back. What were Allegri’s thoughts on his performances?
“He has improved a lot, both mentally and technically. He has specific characteristics, in this last year I am very happy. I think his season is underestimated, he scored goals and put in good performances.
“Then he did a foolish thing against Roma, which he paid with a fine. I always say that every day you have to come to the centre to improve, that depends on ambition. I’m happy with what Kean is doing.”
What were the coach’s expectations for the Bianconeri as the season winds to a close?
“Let’s say I talked to the guys, today’s training gave me a good feeling. We haven’t done anything so far.
“The month of April could give us the chance to have an important May, to be able to reach the finals of the Coppa Italia and for the Europa League, which is still a long way off because we are in the quarter-finals.
“In the league we need to score 56 points, we need to consolidate this second place on the pitch that we’ve earned so far. We have to improve on last year’s points tally. In football you erase what you have done and tomorrow we start from 0-0.”