Juventus travel to sixth-placed Atalanta in Sunday’s early fixture looking to leapfrog Lazio into second place with a win. However, the hosts tomorrow will be in no giving mood either as they themselves seek to make a late run for the top four and Champions League qualification.
Speaking during his pre-match press conference, coach Massimiliano Allegri started off by congratulating newly-crowned Scudetto champions Napoli, league winners for an incredible third time.
“When a team wins it means that they have proven themselves to be stronger. Every season is of course different, there are seasons where situations go against you and other situations that all go in your favor.
“But Napoli deserved this Scudetto in numbers and in everything they did. But all seasons are different and next year will certainly be a fresh start. We must congratulate them for everything they have done.”
Since their run of nine consecutive Scudetti ended in 2020, Juve have not come close to winning it again.
“The team always points to pride, when you’re at Juventus, which historically fights for all competitions, it’s normal that now is the third year we haven’t been able to be competitive for the championship. Next year Juventus must return to being competitive and try to win the league title.”
A key component in making a title challenge is having a sporting director, the position still sitting vacant with Napoli’s Cristiano Giuntoli being linked among others.
“There are 30 very important days that take us to the end of the season. Then from June 5th the club will decide what to do, but until then it is useless to talk about what can and cannot come between players and sporting directors.
“The choice of sporting director is not mine but the club’s, if they will appoint one and who they chose to bring in. When they have chosen, they will let me know.”
With five games left to play, the Bianconeri are going to be pressed to maintain their top four spot. Especially with a Europa League semi-final coming up midweek.
“Apart from the moments in which we had difficulties, the team is doing well and we are fighting. We have to take one small step at a time, think about tomorrow and then we’ll see how we’ll be in the standings. And then we will dive into the Europa League.”
Juventus’ recent form against Atalanta does not really brook any confidence.
“Juve haven’t beaten Atalanta in six games, Atalanta comes in off the back of three victories. At home they are a strong team, with physicality and at the moment they are on the rise.
“Between today and tomorrow, with direct clashes, we will know more. Especially on the numbers. I just know that we’re trying to score the points we need to finish in the top four.”
Allegri was asked what he felt his players needed to do to ensure Champions League qualification.
“There are direct clashes that certainly have an impact on the final numbers going towards the Champions League. Today, we will understand whether we need 72 or 73 points for the Champions League.
“At the moment, it’s 73 – it’s mathematics. It’s also possible with 72, but it depends on today’s results. I’m not going to tell you the numbers otherwise I’ll bore you.”
The recent injury crisis seems to have abated and Allegri should have all his attacking weapons available tomorrow.
“Kean is back after a month of inactivity, Milik and Vlahovic are doing well, we have a match every four days, whoever starts and whoever comes on is crucial.”