Massimiliano Allegri has urged the Bianconeri to right the wrongs of Sunday evening’s below par display in Cesena by reigniting their Scudetto push with an important three points against Atalanta tomorrow night at Juventus Stadium.
The Tuscan tactician feels a lack of focus was responsible for the Bianconeri’s shortcomings in Emilia-Romagna, and says complacency must be eradicated if they are to hold off nearest challengers Roma and continue their march towards a fourth successive title.
The perfect opportunity to provide an instant response to last weekend’s criticism comes on Friday evening in the form of relegation-threatened Atalanta, a side Allegri was quick to warn against underestimating.
Speaking to the media in Vinovo, the 47-year-old began: “I think in recent times we've just lost sight a little of our target – one of our targets – for the season. It's as though we've already wrapped up and won the league title whereas I don't believe that, just look at the statistics.
“Yes, we're a few points ahead of Roma but there are still a lot of matches to play. So we need to go back to taking things one game at a time. The title race is in no way over and there’s no guarantee that Juventus will win the Scudetto this season.
“If Juventus win the title, it will be because we deserved to and worked hard to reach the end of the season top and win it. Roma have dropped a lot of points, we're on a good run but we could have done and have to do better.
“Regardless of playing Atalanta, tomorrow as ever - just like in every game we play - it's down to how we approach the game, how we play technically and especially in terms of the intensity we put in.”
On Friday’s opponents, Allegri said: “We need to take our hat off to Atalanta, as they're one of the sides in Italy who have worked very well with their academy over a number of years. Every year they bring a number of kids through into the first team.
“Although they're missing a few players, they still have a good squad, especially up front: if Pinilla doesn't play they have Denis. Baselli will play in midfield, they have Migliaccio who's an experienced player.”
With the Bianconeri’s Champions League last 16 first leg meeting with Borussia Dortmund to be played on Tuesday and Roma next up in Serie A the following Monday, journalists enquired as to whether Allegri was considering wholesale changes for tomorrow evening’s affair.
After quashing speculation that Paul Pogba could be preserved to keep him suspension free for the trip to the capital, the manager then provided updates on Andrea Barzagli and Arturo Vidal.
“I don't believe in resting players. The side I pick tomorrow will be based on who's in the best shape physically and mentally to play Atalanta. We’ll think about Roma later and if one misses out through suspension another will come in.
“Vidal’s a doubt for tomorrow due to a light inflammation of his left adductor tendon. Barzagli’s almost ready to play. I think he needs another training ground run out and we’ll see if we can do something on Wednesday to also assess the overall condition of those who aren’t involved against Borussia.”
Borussia was the final topic on the agenda of today’s press conference, with Allegri keen to set the record straight on certain sentiments expressed to German publication Sport Bild he felt were misinterpreted back home in Italy.
He concluded: “I said it’s crucial we don’t concede at home, given that it’s a two-legged affair. If we’re not able to win, it’s better to draw 0-0 than 1-1. Our aim is to get through the round and keeping a clean sheet at home is already an important step forward.”