Juventus are back home after a tour of the United States that saw a friendly against Barcelona canceled, a game that ended in a 2-2 draw and a win on penalties against AC Milan, and closed out with a big 3-1 win over Real Madrid.
Coach Massimiliano Allegri was interviewed by Gazzetta dello Sport (via Football Italia) on a wide-ranging selection of topics, starting with how things were going for the Bianconeri.
“For what we have done in the United States, I must say that the team has worked well. Against Real Madrid it was good training against a strong team, who have technique and physique, but we still have to improve in many things, first of all the athletic condition.
“Overall, I’m happy because we finished this American tour well. We’ve grown in terms of physical condition and it’s normal that this is the case because we’re getting closer to the start of the season, but also in terms of awareness.
“We have begun a journey and we must continue like this, this victory against Real Madrid gives us self-esteem, but at the same time we must remain serene and calm because the matches that count will start on August 20.”
The future of Dusan Vlahovic remains murky, with latest reports that a swap deal with Romelu Lukaku from Chelsea is still in the works but the two sides are yet to come to an agreement. The striker shrugged that talk off to score Juve’s third against Madrid.
“I’m very happy for him, before the match we decided together that he would come on the bench and play for fifteen minutes.
“Dusan wasn’t very convinced, but he was useful. Vlahovic came on well, apart from the goal he played well technically and extended the team.”
How about new signing Timothy Weah and his countryman Weston McKennie who seems to have reintegrated into the squad after his loan spell away last year?
“Timo, against Real Madrid, was a little more tired, but he is a boy who has good qualities and who will be very useful to the team throughout the season. McKennie also played a good game, I’m happy with his performance.”
On what he was looking for from his side this summer, Allegri mentioned the specific areas of playing with intensity, a high defensive line and emphasis on build-up play.
“These are things we’ve always done, but this year we have the advantage of playing one game a week and I think this team needs five days to be able to work, especially to improve self-esteem and in building up in the game. However…
“We still have to understand that there are moments in the match when we have to slow down. Against Real Madrid, for example, we lost too many free balls, and we can improve on this. But I see great attention and a great desire to do well in the boys.”
What rating would he give his side on the US tour?
“You don’t give ratings, but we did a good job and I’m happy above all for the spirit that the team had. We have many young players up to it, slowly they will grow, some will go to play elsewhere since we will only have one game a week.
“Having a squad with too many players can be harmful for those who will have less space. We need to find the right path for these guys who have important qualities.
“Unfortunately, we are out of the European cups despite having finished third last season and we would have had the right to participate in the Champions League.
“We have to do without it and we have to be more focused on the league, to make sure we’re back in the Champions League in 2024-25.”
After two straight Scudetti where Juventus were not even in the running for the title, would he call his side one of the favorites for the new campaign?
“Talking about the Scudetto now makes no sense, we have started a journey, we need to work and nobody here is holding back.
“I’m in my eighth year on the Bianconeri bench and since I’ve been here I’ve never said that we won’t fight to win the Scudetto, also because you can’t afford to do that at Juventus.
“You have to start with ambitions to get the most out, as has always been the case in the history of this club. Then if we are good in March we will see, but we will certainly have a long way to go.”
Danilo will retain the armband as club captain, but who would be his two assistants?
“Alex Sandro and Rabiot. When the former doesn’t play, it will be the latter’s turn, because Adrien should rise in the hierarchies.”