Juventus start a new season tomorrow with a trip to Udinese, where they ended last season as well. It is going to be an odd campaign for the Bianconeri who will not be participating in Europe and thus should be able to focus their energies on the domestic scene.
With the club’s tenuous financial situation it has been an underwhelming summer transfer window, and the outflux of just about any sellable resource has been disappointing as well.
Speaking during his pre-match press conference earlier today, coach Massimiliano Allegri put on a brave face.
“I am happy with the current squad, the lads are working really well. Games will be different from tomorrow, and we’ll see where we can get.
“The team has ample room for improvement and we must finish in the top four.”
How will Juventus’ approach change with no European football?
“Technically our way of working will change, it’s bitter not to play in the Champions League, I’ve been in this competition for 14 years. It’s a source of pride and it’s not nice to be involved. We must do our best to qualify for it and play in the Champions League next season.”
His opinion of new Sporting Director Cristiano Giuntoli, who joined from Napoli this summer?
“I am on good terms with Giuntoli and Giovanni Manna. They are working well and he [Giuntoli] is an important figure for the club. He is settling in well.”
Federico Chiesa missed large parts of the last campaign with injuries. Allegri provided an update on the winger as well as the squad in general.
“Chiesa is more aware and serene than last season. He had a difficult year and now his legs are different.
“Vlahovic has had highs and lows, he had groin issues this summer, but now he feels better. He is not fully fit. He missed some games during the pre-season. Milik won’t be available, he had a knock and won’t play. We have Yildiz who comes from the youth sector and is really good. I am happy with my strikers.”
Paul Pogba looks fit again, scoring in a friendly and should be in line for a return this weekend.
“I am also happy with Paul’s last few days. He is a different player from the others, but he hasn’t played for one and a half years. It would be ideal to have him available every day. Hopefully, his condition can improve. Today, I will decide if he’ll come to Udine.”
Who did he think was the favorite to win the Scudetto? And what were his thoughts on Roberto Mancini stepping down from the Italy post to be replaced by Luciano Spalletti?
“The defending champions are the favourite, so Napoli. Inter are strong, same as Milan and Lazio, but we haven’t even started yet. Surely we have to improve in away games. Napoli collected 15 points more than us away last term.
“I can’t make comments [about Mancini’s resignation]. Roberto did an excellent job with the national team. Good luck to Spalletti. It’s an important appointment after winning the title.”