16.12.2016 13:00 - in: Serie A S

    Allegri: "Only a win will do”

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    Massimiliano Allegri calls on his team to guarantee their place atop the Serie A Christmas tree by beating Roma on Saturday at Juventus Stadium

    Team news

    "At this point, even before our final training session, it is unlikely that we will play with three strikers tomorrow. Either Dybala or Mandzukic will play with Higuain; I will make a call on which of them starts the match later today.

    "In terms of fitness, Paulo is coming along very nicely indeed. It’s natural that he needs a bit of time to get back into the swing of things but he came off the bench and played a big hand in our third goal last weekend. Both he and Marko Pjaca will be like new signings in January.

    "Further back, Pjanic will feature in midfield; it will be a unique encounter for him but he has the right mentality to make sure it won’t affect his performance. Barzagli will almost certainly be back in the frame for Milan but tomorrow may be coming too soon for him. Benatia is likely to slot into the defence; whether we play with three or four at the back, that remains to be seen.

    "The renewals for Rugani and Sturaro are two great pieces of news and a sign of the club’s vision for the future. They are two young and promising players and we’re looking for them to become the spine of this team for years to come."

    Mental approach key

    "Before our trip to Genoa, everyone was saying that the league title had already been decided and it was game over: we lost and suddenly the hunt was back on again. All we can do is focus on consistently picking up results throughout the remainder of the campaign.

    "Tomorrow’s is a very important match but one that won’t decide the fate of the Scudetto. That said, we won’t be settling for a point: big games like this are there to be won. If we want to top of the tree at Christmas we need a positive result.

    "That every side in the league wants to beat us should not come as a surprise. For now, our main rivals are Roma but in the new year it will be Bologna, then Fiorentina, then Lazio. Our goal is to take each game as it comes and win as many points as we can.

    "On the surface, we have been given a favourable draw in the Champions League but in reality it is not simple at all. Porto have vast experience in these kinds of European fixtures; let’s not forget that they eliminated Roma in the play-offs earlier in the season and defeated Bayern Munich 3-1 two seasons ago. They have a strong record in continental competitions."

    Revitalised Roma

    "Luciano Spalletti has done a fantastic job so far. He has changed Roma for the better, especially mentally and you can see that in the way they have improved defensively. As a group, they are very well-organised and have some quality individuals; Dzeko for example is playing extremely well at the moment.

    "We are in for a great night of sport on Saturday, contested by two excellent sides who are going to push each other all the way from now until May."


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