Undefeated in five and fresh from three league wins on the bounce, Sassuolo head into Friday evening’s encounter with the Bianconeri in fine fettle and with reason to approach the contest in high spirits.
While building upon recent victories with another positive result represents the aim of the game for the visitors, their manager Eusebio Di Francesco stressed that such ends would only be met by putting in a titanic display in Turin.
He began: “We’re looking for a big performance tomorrow. There’s no doubting that we face the most in-form team in the league that boasts a terrific winning mentality, but I want my players to enter the match with confidence and a desire to cause serious problems for the opposition who haven’t conceded in a very long time.”
A lot has changed since Juve lost their last league game at the hands of the Neroverdi back in October, with the reigning champions embarking on an 18-match unbeaten run, triumphing 17 times – an achievement that Di Francesco admitted he could see coming before it began.
“I don’t know what they talked about after their defeat to us, but they’ve responded brilliantly, fulfilling all of their potential as a team. I’m not surprised one bit by their rise, as I had said that they were capable of winning the league 17 matchdays ago.
“I don’t think that they’ll be at all distracted by their Champions League tie against Bayern Munich the following Wednesday, as I’ve come across Juventus several times in the past both as a player and a coach and I can tell you that they give each and every game their undivided attention, which is the correct way of doing things. I’m sure that Allegri will field the strongest side possible in order to beat us.”
Di Francesco will have to do without injured pair Simone Missiroli and Paolo Cannavaro, as well as the suspended Gregoire Defrel tomorrow, the French forward’s absence coming as a particular blow after he netted four goals in his last five outings. Nonetheless, the 46-year-old tactician did not doubt that the players lining up at Juventus Stadium would give anything less than 100 per cent on the night.
“Despite the absentees, I’m sure that whoever plays will give everything they’ve got. These kinds of matches help to motivate players more than any other. Our approach needs to be humble, knowing that we’ll need to put in plenty of running if we’re to beat them, but we’re aware that determination alone isn’t enough. We must show something very special on the evening.”