09.03.2016 17:00 - in: Serie A S

    Zaza: “Sole focus on Sassuolo”

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    Simone Zaza previews Friday’s visit of former club Sassuolo to Juventus Stadium

    Friday evening’s visit of Sassuolo to Juventus Stadium comes with an intriguing sub-plot, namely the possibility of Simone Zaza facing the club with whom he enjoyed two successful seasons between 2013 and 2015.

    Nonetheless, the striker is viewing the upcoming encounter in Turin as just another opportunity for the Bianconeri to pick up the three points on offer in order to strengthen their bid for a fifth successive Scudetto title.

    Speaking to the Sky cameras on Wednesday, he began: “Even when we’re not playing our best football, we still come up with the goods. That’s the most important thing. Right now we’re focused solely on Sassuolo, and only after then will our attentions turn to Bayern.”

    Indeed, Zaza and company have plenty of reason to be wary of a Neroverdi outfit, who were the last team to defeat Juventus in the league, and to recognise the need of staying fully on their toes if they are to win an 18th match out of 19 since that sobering night in Reggio Emilia back in October.

    “It was certainly a low point in our season. For me, there were also the added emotions of playing against my former club. Afterwards, the more experienced heads in the dressing room spoke out and each of us confronted our problems and started to show our true potential.”

    If Juventus have certainly moved on from that loss, Sassuolo have shown plenty of steel themselves in continuing to pick up positive results and currently making seventh place their own in Serie A, as three successive wins have seen them shoot six points above eighth-placed Lazio and only three shy of Milan in sixth.

    Commenting on the consistent rise of Eusebio Di Francesco’s men since their promotion to Serie A in 2013, Zaza admitted that their performances this term had not come as a surprise, while he thanked his former coach for the support received during his time at the Mapei Stadium.

    “I’m not shocked in the slightest. I knew that they were fully capable of enjoying a season such as this one, because after two years in the top flight the club is far more familiar with the challenges at hand.

    Asked whether Di Francesco was now primed to take over the reins of one of the traditional top teams in the division, the 24-year-old replied: “First and foremost, I am extremely grateful for everything he has done for me down the years.

    "I actually believe that he is already in charge of a big club, but I know he is highly ambitious and I think he’s ready to step up when he feels the time is right.”

    Moving on from one flourishing friendship in Reggio Emilia, Zaza also spoke of another one that continues to go from strength to strength in Turin, namely with his current strike partner, Alvaro Morata.

    “We’re friends and spend a lot of time together off the pitch. We like to kick back and relax by playing video games. There’s no rivalry between us. On the contrary, we drive each other on.”

    This notion of constantly pushing on for brighter times in the future is exactly how Zaza wrapped up the interview, as he reiterated his intentions to improve on his impressive strike rate of a goal every 111 minutes in the league with the Bianconeri and ultimately book his seat on the Azzurri plane to France for this summer’s European Championships.

    He concluded: “My average took a bit of a knock after the Inter match, but I’m satisfied with those numbers.

    “From the very start, I’ve made it clear that I want to take part in the Euros and nothing has changed: I’m keen to do well with Juventus and then repeat my form with the national side.”

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