Massimiliano Allegri says his men will be putting Wednesday night’s crunch Champions League semi-final second leg encounter with Real Madrid to the backs of their minds when they run out to face Cagliari tomorrow evening at Juventus Stadium.
After wrapping up the title with four games to spare, Allegri is now aiming for a maximum return from the Bianconeri’s remaining Serie A fixtures in order to sign off a thrilling domestic campaign in style.
Speaking to the media in Vinovo, the 47-year-old began: “Our duty and our objective is to pass the 80-point mark. There are 12 points left to play for and we need to try to win them. I’ll make a few changes tomorrow, because the team gave a lot against Sampdoria and Real. I have other players in good shape who are capable of winning the game.
“We’ll start thinking about that from Sunday, I can’t start thinking about Real Madrid now. We’d be exhausted by the time we get there. We’ll focus on it from Sunday or Monday.”
The visit of the Rossoblu will give Allegri time to cast his eye over a number of options ahead of the midweek trip to Spain, including the fitness of Paul Pogba, who returned to first-team training yesterday after recovering from a thigh injury.
“Storari will play in goal, while Tevez is to be rested. Pogba trained well yesterday and worked with the ball for an hour, meaning he’s got a chance to play tomorrow, be it from the start or by coming off the bench. He won’t play the full 90 minutes but it will be useful to see how he’s looking and what he’s like on the ball ahead of Madrid.”
In spite of the manager’s insistence that Real Madrid would remain his sole focus, questions on the upcoming Champions League semi, and the first leg that preceded it, were inevitable.
He believes a place in the final would represent an “extraordinary” achievement but warned his players that a herculean performance will be required to propel them into the ultimate act of this season’s competition.
“It’s important for me and particularly for Juventus to be back in a Champions League semi-final. We hadn't got this far for a long time. Our objective this year was just to get out of the group.
“Nobody could have imagined that we’d be 95 minutes away from Berlin right now. We were 180 minutes away from the final and now there are just 95 to go.
“It’s not easy and I think it would be an extraordinary achievement for us to reach the final. Let’s not kid ourselves that Real Madrid are a bad team – they have players of incredible quality. They move the ball around at a supersonic pace. We need to put in a great performance in Madrid, even better than we did in Turin.”