Massimiliano Allegri says Juventus have all it takes to bring an end to a 14-year fruitless run in Naples by taking all three points from Sunday night’s Serie A clash with Napoli.
He admits that emerging victorious from a ground at which the Bianconeri last tasted success on 30 September 2000 will be anything but straightforward, but pointed to the hatful of chances created in December’s Super Cup meeting as a reason for his optimism ahead of tomorrow’s fixture.
Previewing the clash in Vinovo, the 47-year-old began: “Juventus haven’t won in Naples since 30 September 2000, so tomorrow could be the moment. We need to avoid conceding and win the game. It won’t be easy, but we’ve got the required quality to come away with the three points. We created plenty of goalscoring opportunities in Doha, allowing them a few too many shots on goal, but the final chances in the 90 minutes were all ours.”
The encounter of the league leaders and fourth-placed Napoli assumes an even greater significance after the Bianconeri’s lead at the top of the table was trimmed to a solitary point following Mauro Icardi’s midweek equaliser for Inter at Juventus Stadium.
Allegri, however, is choosing to reflect on the positive aspects of his team’s performance on Tuesday night, adding that he expects this season’s title tussle with Roma to go right down to the wire.
“Looking at the glass from a half-full perspective, it was a great game with victory only jeapordised by four individual errors from a technical standpoint. Inter are a useful side, regardless of the 22 points they’ve picked up so far.
“The season ends on 31 May and nobody is arrogant enough to think it can be won with 10 games to spare. It doesn’t happen in any of the world’s leagues, perhaps only Bayern could achieve such a feat.
“If anyone thought it were possible then they need to get that out of their heads right now, because our duel with Roma will go on until the end. We know that and must maintain an element of balance through the good times and those less so.”
Despite the Bianconeri’s position at the top of Serie A’s goalscoring charts with 35 strikes to date, Allegri acknowledges his team must capitalise on their dominance by being more clinical in the final third, while also calling for calm in the event of a goal going in at the other end.
“We also saw this at the start of the season against Chievo, when we ran the risk of drawing a game we should have comfortably won. We need to work on our finishing.
“We must also understand that difficult moments can occur in games and conceding is not a drama. You can’t always win 3-0, not even on the Playstation. Games are won with balance. Individual errors are part and parcel of the game, sometimes you pay for them and others not, even though at the moment we seem to concede the minute we make a mistake.”
Recent media reports have hinted that Allegri could be set to revert back to a defensive three for the trip to Naples, a suggestion he strenuously denied when quizzed on his tactical intentions.
“You can’t change your tactics for every game. We did so in Florence, but that was an exception. Pogba as a playmaker? It’s difficult to see him playing in that position. Pereyra and Vidal have done well there, Arturo has also played up front for Chile. His qualities mean he can play anywhere in midfield and he put in a great display against Inter. He can only get better.”
One weapon the Bianconeri will be deprived of on Sunday night is the support of their travelling fans, with Allegri lamenting their absence at a ground where Napoli have lost just once in Serie A all season.
“It’s a shame we’ll be without our travelling fans, they’re important for us and we would have needed their support. This is another aspect that needs to be improved in Italy.”
Ending with a thought on the transfer market, the Tuscan tactician claims Juventus will not be pressured into making panic buys during the January transfer window, insisting that only those capable of raising the quality of the current squad will be brought into consideration.
He concluded: “Our squad is strong and competitive. Unfortunately we’ve lost a few players along the way such as Asamoah and Romulo and Barzagli is yet to return. Excellent players are required to bolster the team and it’s not easy to find them in January. There’s no need in bringing in new faces for the sake of it. I’ll work to blood the youngsters who perhaps lack in experience but can bring us enthusiasm.”