Three successive Serie A wins have seen the Bianconeri rise up the domestic standings in recent weeks, but Massimiliano Allegri is keen for a continuation of his charges’ encouraging form when they travel to the Stadio Renzo Barbera for Sunday evening’s meeting with Palermo.
The Rosanero recorded a credible draw away to Lazio in Davide Ballardini’s first match back in charge of the Sicilian side and Allegri insisted that the Bianconeri will have to be on their toes in order to register their fourth league victory on the spin.
Speaking to the media in Vinovo, he began: “Tomorrow’s match is extremely tough and we need to approach it with a high level of focus and determination. They’ll have their tails up too from last weekend and will be urged on by a passionate home crowd. Winning against Juventus is always something of a scalp for the opposition.
“We’re playing catch up in the league right now and so it’s important that we bring home positive results on a consistent basis, so that we can continue our rise up the table and be in a strong position by Christmas time.”
Meanwhile, on the European front, the Tuscan tactician stressed that he, the players and the club as a whole were all committed to ensuring continual growth on the continental stage following the team’s Champions League victory against Manchester City on Wednesday that saw the Old Lady book their place in the competition’s knockout stages.
“We played a great match and obtained a fine result against a team full of world-class players, but we know that we need to keep working hard in order to carry on in the right direction.
“We’ve now secured qualification to the last 16, which was our second goal of the season. Our first was winning the Super Cup. On top of this, we’ll try to finish top of Group D so as to avoid Europe’s top clubs in the next round.”
Turning his attention to team news, Allegri would not confirm who will line up from the first minute on Sunday evening in Sicily, stating he was satisfied with the different options he has at his disposal, beginning with his strikers, who are all jostling for a starting berth.
“Alvaro Morata is getting back to a good level of fitness. He is doing the right things since recovering from injury and he has plenty of ability.
“The fact that, at this moment in time, Mario Mandzukic perhaps offers different qualities which have been very important to the rest of the team recently does not mean that Morata will be limited to the bench forever.
“Competition for places can only be healthy, just as Patrice Evra until now was playing most of the matches at left-back, but Alex Sandro began the game on Wednesday and put in a brilliant performance.”
The next week will also see a number of players return from the treatment table and on the injury situation, Allegri commented: “Martin Caceres’ situation is not serious, but he still has a niggling injury from his time on international duty.
“Sami Khedira will be back to training within three to four days, Roberto Pereyra after next Friday’s match against Lazio, Kwadwo Asamoah next week. Hernanes is still sidelined, but (Simone) Padoin has already started working with the squad again.”