Massimiliano Allegri has urged his men to put all Derby della Mole thoughts to the backs of their minds and focus solely on claiming three points from a testing trip to in-form Sassuolo on Wednesday night.
Saturday’s Turin derby is already the talk of the town but the Tuscan tactician says it is crucial his team go into the first of four crunch fixtures with their sights firmly set on the task at hand.
Speaking to the media in Vinovo, Allegri began: “We’ll firstly try to win tomorrow’s game and then we’ll start thinking about the derby. We’ve got four crucial matches ahead and our Champions League fate and chances of making up ground in the league will be decided in the next two weeks. We must be fully motivated and aim to change the look of the league table.”
Climbing up the standings is the Bianconeri’s number one priority and Allegri remains confident in his team’s ability to do just that after noting a series of recent improvements.
“The team’s growing in its ability to read the game, knowing the right time to put its foot on the gas, ease off or defend. The break’s served those who stayed behind to work very well. Marchisio’s now back running and playing, as is Khedira, and they’ve still got plenty of room for improvement.
“I’m very happy with the squad I have at my disposal. It’s been a strange season so far - we began slowly and picked up injuries, but now we’re on the right track.”
Maintaining this upward momentum against a vibrant Sassuolo outfit will be no easy task though, and the boss is under no illusions regarding the test facing his side tomorrow evening at the Mapei Stadium.
“We know how Sassuolo play. They’ve got 15 points on the board and are well organised, possessing plenty of skill and pace. We’ll need to dig deep tomorrow and pull out a top performance.”
With Roberto Pereyra and Kwadwo Asamoah (both thigh) the only confirmed absentees for the trip to Reggio Emilia, Allegri says he will use this afternoon’s final training session as the opportunity to weigh up his selection options.
“It depends on the conditions of certain players in training and I’ll also take Saturday’s and next Tuesday’s games into account. We’ve got Caceres back and there’s a good chance Barzagli will return to my starting line-up tomorrow.”