Massimiliano Allegri believes tomorrow’s encounter with Empoli and next week’s away trip to Parma will have a significant say in the destiny of this season’s Scudetto honours.
He claims that wins over the Azzurri and Gialloblu would edge the Bianconeri tantalisingly close to a fourth consecutive league title and is challenging his men to pick up where they left off by racking up another three points in Saturday evening’s return to Serie A action against one of this season’s surprise packages.
Previewing the clash in Vinovo, the 47-year-old began: “I believe that two-thirds of the Scudetto will be decided with tomorrow's match and our game at Parma. We've done a good job so far and the lads have performed well.
“Now we're into the home straight and there are still two months to go this season. During this time we'll compete for Serie A, the Champions League and the Coppa Italia, so now more than ever we have to perform very well in our games.”
Standing in the way of the Bianconeri and their quest for victory are an Empoli outfit who have been rightly praised for the way they have adapted to life in Serie A since gaining promotion last summer.
To get the better of them, Allegri says he will be calling on his strongest available side, but injuries to Andrea Pirlo, Claudio Marchisio and Paul Pogba, plus question marks hovering over the respective conditions of Carlos Tevez and Roberto Pereyra, mean it could be a vastly changed starting line-up that takes to the field tomorrow night at Juventus Stadium.
“I'll try to pick the best possible team to face Empoli. They're having a great season, they're on an eight-game unbeaten run and we'll need to once again focus on the league.
“There are a lot of question marks over my side for tomorrow, the last two came back yesterday in the shape of Tevez and Pereyra. I'll have to assess how they are, along with everyone else, in the only session we have to prepare for the match.
“If Tevez is fit and if he's over his jet lag, he'll play tomorrow. Everyone else is fine but the match lasts 100 minutes and so I need to make changes at this stage of the season, where the players start to feel tired particularly in the last 30 minutes of games.
“I think substitutions are very important at this moment in time so we'll try to have players on the bench who can get straight into the game when they come on. I’ll have a look at my starting line-up, particularly up front, but they're all fit up top.
“As far as the midfield’s concerned, Padoin is someone who can operate in front of the defence, as is Vidal, so we’ll assess that in today’s final workout. In defence, Ogbonna could get the nod after featuring a little less recently.”