The potential permutations of Matchday Five mean that the Bianconeri could qualify for the Champions League knockout stages even if they do not beat Manchester City on Wednesday but, echoing the sentiments of Giorgio Chiellini yesterday, Massimiliano Allegri stressed the importance of picking up the win that would see them progress without having to depend on the result of Group D’s other match of the evening between Borussia Monchengladbach and Sevilla.
A victory would also put the Old Lady in a commanding position to finish first in the group and therefore avoid playing against the elite clubs of Europe so soon after the group stages are over.
Speaking to the media at Juventus Stadium, Allegri began: “Tomorrow is a crucial contest because it could determine who finishes top of the pile. We’re all keen for the three points that would guarantee our passage to the next round.”
The Bianconeri have risen up the Serie A table of late with three consecutive victories seeing them enter tomorrow’s match in a strong vein of form, but the Tuscan tactician has stressed that his charges have yet to achieve anything in this year’s Champions League and urged the supporters to help cheer them over the white line.
“The boys are in good shape and the trio of recent wins has also boosted moral. Nevertheless, this is a demanding competition, the matches are far from easy and there’ll be moments in which the fans can really make a difference to help the players dig that bit deeper when the going gets tough.”
Asked about which players would make the line-up against City, Allegri admitted he would wait until after tomorrow’s training session to confirm whether Patrice Evra or Alex Sandro would play from the first minute. Likewise, a decision will be made on the forward partnership with Mario Mandzukic and Paulo Dybala both competing for a starting berth.
The 48-year-old would not shed any light on which formation he will opt for, underlining that “the characteristics of his players on the pitch” outweighed any other factor informing his final choice.
One thing Allegri was certain about, however, was the need for his men to continue their steady improvement in terms of controlling the tempo of matches, especially important against an opponent he acknowledged were one of the competition’s top sides, despite last Saturday’s 4-1 reverse at home to Liverpool.
“I watched their game at the weekend and Liverpool were very impressive with their pressing, successfully limiting the hosts’ undoubted attacking strengths.
“The fact remains that they are an immensely talented outfit, but we’ll look to exploit any areas of weakness in order to gain the upper hand over the course of the contest.”