"Starting from the front, Gonzalo Higuain will play tomorrow; he trained very well yesterday after his return from Argentina and he looked focused and raring to go again. Together with Mario Mandzukic and the young lad Moise Kean, he is one of our three striking options at the moment with Paulo Dybala set to be on the sidelines for a little while longer.
“Claudio Marchisio is in good shape too. He trained on Thursday and I’ll decide whether to play him or not and the system we’ll be using after our two remaining sessions today and tomorrow morning at the stadium. The team I select won’t be influenced by the trip to Sevilla on Tuesday; I’ll be choosing the best side possible to defeat Pescara.
“Giorgio Chiellini will be assessed today and likewise Medhi Benatia. Andrea Barzagli will not feature obviously given the nature of his shoulder injury last time out. As a result, there is a very good chance that Daniele Rugani will start; he had a good match for Italy during the week and has continued to improve in all aspects of his play.
“As for the midfield, Sami Khedira is a certainty and he will be joined by two of either Marchisio, Hernanes, Mario Lemina, Miralem Pjanic, Kwadwo Asamoah and Stefano Sturaro.”
Objectives in order
“The first game after the international break is always a difficult one since you are at risk of being caught out and off the pace. It’s more or less one month until the winter break and we have three clear objectives: in order of importance, we must reach the last 16 of the Champions League, keep a hold of top spot in Serie A, even though we will be playing a game less because of the Super Cup, and of course to win the Super Cup in Qatar.
“With the away trip to Spain and the home tie with Dinamo Zagreb to come, we need just one victory from the remaining two UCL matches to secure our qualification to the next round. While it’s our primary goal in this part of the season, Europe will be put to one side for the next 24 hours as our focus now is only on Pescara.
“Between now and 23 December, our fixtures pretty much mirror those of Roma; both teams will be facing Pescara, Atalanta and a derby match before meeting in the middle of next month so it’s crucial we pick up as many points as possible and steal a march on our rivals. The league title isn’t decided in the first three months of the campaign; that happens in April.”
“We’re expecting a tough contest since Massimo Oddo’s men actually play some very good football in spite of their difficult reintroduction to the top-flight. It’s natural for newly-promoted sides to struggle but they create lots of chances, move the ball well and have been pretty unfortunate not to pick up more points than they have.
“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: consistently winning these kinds of matches is the key to winning the Scudetto. With that in mind, the best XI possible will be taking to the field tomorrow night.
“In Oddo, they have a fine coach who has already shown that he has the qualities to be a top class manager at this level. As in any career path, making mistakes and losing football matches help you to develop.”