Massimiliano Allegri believes both Juventus and Atletico Madrid are capable of causing each other problems during Wednesday evening’s intriguing Group A clash at the Calderon.
Arguably the pick of the matchday two fixtures, all eyes of the world will be on Madrid tomorrow night as the two respective domestic champions lock horns for the first time in Champions League history.
But Allegri insists the pressure is off his men and claims the naturally ingrained hunger to win possessed by Juventus will be out in full force regardless of the challenge that stands before them.
Speaking to the media in the Spanish capital, the 47-year-old began: “It will be a difficult game for both sides. The lads are ready and need to be calm about facing the encounter. The will to win is in the club’s DNA and I’m lucky to coach a group of players who have taken this on board. We’ll look to pick up a result.
“We mustn’t set ourselves fixed targets in the Champions League, but instead give it everything we’ve got. The first aim is to get through the group stages, then we’ll see how far we’re able to go.”
Opponents Atletico have won plenty of admirers for their remarkable renaissance under Diego Simeone and Allegri sought to pick out the secrets behind their meteoric rise from mid-table to La Liga title winners in the space of three years.
“We’re up against a team who count on intensity, competitive fury and quality as their main weapons. They reflect the character of their manager and when you see them play, you can tell they’re a tight-knit group that stick together and press for 95 minutes.”
He also pinpointed Mario Manduzkic as a particular threat to look out for, suggesting his defence will have to brace themselves for a physical battle against the former Bayern frontman.
“They’ve no longer got a mobile forward in the mould of Diego Costa, but they do have Manduzkic, who is physically strong and difficult to mark. It will be a tough test for our defenders.”
There was naturally a high level of interest among local journalists surrounding the respective returns of Fernando Llorente and Alvaro Morata to their homeland.
After revealing he is still undecided over who will partner Carlos Tevez tomorrow night, Allegri concluded by outlining the different qualities both Spanish strikers brings to the team.
He said: “Llorente is more of a focal point who gives the team options to aim for, while Morata knows how to work the channels and possesses exceptional technique. He still, however, needs to develop because he’s only 21 years of age. He missed out on a month’s work due to his injury, but did well when he came off the bench on Saturday, scored his first goal and I’m really happy about that.”