Massimiliano Allegri says he will be keeping his players’ minds fixed solely on the task at hand as the Bianconeri approach the start of an important week in which they travel to Palermo and Dortmund.
Tomorrow’s Serie A trip to Sicily is followed by a last 16 Champions League second leg clash in Dortmund and Allegri believes the old adage of “taking one game at a time” to be the correct mindset ahead of a challenging double-header.
Speaking to the media in Vinovo, the 47-year-old began: “Tomorrow we begin a week that’s more or less decisive as far as the league’s concerned, which still hasn’t been won, and the Champions League, where we’ve got a knockout game. But for now we’ll just stay focused on Palermo.”
Concentration will need to be at its absolute maximum tomorrow night, with the Bianconeri looking to overcome a potential banana skin against a side boasting an unbeaten home record that stretches back to September.
Allegri is under no illusions regarding the problems his men could come up against at the Renzo Barbera, in particular the threat posed by lethal Rosanero top scorer Paulo Dybala.
“They’re in a comfortable league position and will be able to play without any pressure in front of a full house. Being up against us will give them extra motivation and they’ve also chalked up 26 points on home soil. Dybala? He’s got the ability to play for a big club and can only get better.”
With Monday’s matchwinner Paul Pogba suspended for Saturday night’s encounter, Allegri dropped his biggest hint yet that January arrival Stefano Sturaro could be handed his first chance to shine.
When quizzed on the midfielder, he said: “He’s capable of playing in front of the defence or in Pogba’s role and I think his time could come tomorrow.”
After making positive noises regarding Pirlo’s chances of recovering in time for Wednesday night’s Champions League game, the Tuscan tactician discussed the conditions and current form of Alessandro Matri, Andrea Barzagli and Simone Pepe.
“Matri now back in decent shape and looking good, while Barzagli is better and could be involved tomorrow. Pepe, who’s also in good condition, is someone who can offer us a variety of options, even if he hasn’t yet got 90 minutes in his legs, and make an important contribution. He’s capable of playing in different positions and, although I’d say his natural role is wide on the right, his tactical and technical adeptness means he could also play further inside.”