Massimiliano Allegri insists the Bianconeri will place any thoughts of Tuesday’s Champions League last 16 first leg with Bayern Munich firmly to the backs of their minds, ensuring tomorrow's trip to in-form Bologna remains priority number one for the time being.
Speaking to the media in Vinovo, he began: “We absolutely mustn’t allow ourselves to think about Bayern, a game we’ll only focus on from Saturday morning onwards. The Bologna match is crucial for us because a win would take us four points above Napoli ahead of their game on Monday against Milan.”
Awaiting the league leaders in Emilia-Romagna are an in-form Rossoblu side whose fortunes have taken a dramatic upturn since Roberto Donadoni replaced Delio Rossi in the Dall’Ara dugout at the end of October.
This strong form, coupled with the Rossoblu’s penchant for an upset against the Serie A big guns, means that the Bianconeri’s Tuscan tactician will be taking nothing for granted when his men cross the white line in Bologna.
“We’ll require an intelligent display tomorrow because Bologna are doing very well. They’ve beaten Napoli, overcome Milan away from home and took all three points from Sampdoria. They’re a skillful, well-organised outfit and Donadoni’s doing a fine job.”
When asked about his team selection for the encounter, Allegri hinted that last Saturday’s match-winner, Simone Zaza, could be in line for a starting place at the expense of Paulo Dybala.
“Dybala’s played the most out of anyone and has run his socks off. He’s had two to three days to recover and trained well yesterday, but he won’t necessarily start tomorrow’s game. I could go with Morata and Zaza as my pairing, giving me an important option from the bench in Paulo.”
An update from the treatment table brought good news on several fronts, with Allegri confident his men are progressing well along their respective roads to recovery.
He added: “Cuadrado’s in good shape and Bonucci’s available too. Alex Sandro’s scan did not reveal any muscular tears, but we’ll keep monitoring him on a day-to-day basis.
“We’ll have to manage the involvement of Khedira both in games and on the training ground. Mandzukic will be back with us on Saturday, while we’ll see if Chiellini makes it for Tuesday. We don’t want to risk rushing him back too quickly.
“Pereyra doesn’t have 90 minutes in his legs just yet. I’m confident he could give us 65 to 70, or be a strong option as a substitute.”