Massimiliano Allegri has told his men they must put the elation of Tuesday’s Champions League win over Manchester City to one side and focus on climbing the Serie A table, starting from tomorrow afternoon’s meeting with Genoa at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris.
Spirits have understandably been high in the camp after the Bianconeri upset the odds to reign supreme over Manuel Pellegrini’s high-flying Citizens during the week.
But with a trip to a notoriously challenging venue in the offing - against an opponent who took all three points from last season’s encounter in Liguria - Allegri is keen for his troops to keep their feet on the ground.
Speaking to the media in Vinovo, he began: “Tuesday represented an important success for our Champions League campaign. Starting off with an away triumph over the group favourites and a side tipped to win the competition outright is a good result for everyone.
“The league though is a different matter entirely. We’ve started badly in terms of results, despite decent performances against Udinese and Chievo, but we need to be realistic and look at the table.
“Genoa is a tough place to go to and they’re a very aggressive side to face. It’s one of those games that become crucial for your season as a whole.”
Victory tomorrow afternoon would kick-start a title defence that has so far left the reigning champions trailing early pacesetters Inter by eight points after three games.
Yet Allegri is refusing to push the panic button and believes a pragmatic approach, built on hard work and defensive solidity, will soon see the Bianconeri return to the division’s upper reaches.
“There’s still a long way to go in the league. As it stands, Inter and Roma are favourites for the Scudetto, because we’re eight points off the top. We need to be realistic and just focus on tomorrow’s match. What’s important is that we start picking up results in the league, begin to keep clean sheets and get back to winning ways.”
Tuesday evening’s Champions League opener saw Allegri spring a surprise by reverting to a 4-3-3 formation, a tactic that proved vital in cutting City’s supply line and supporting Mario Mandzukic.
For the trip to Genoa, however, the boss revealed he is keeping his options open, hinting that changes could be made both in formation and personnel.
“We could stick with the system we used in midweek or perhaps change things around a little bit. I need to have a good look at today’s training session and then I’ll make my decisions.”
“Alex Sandro will start either tomorrow or Wednesday, while Caceres is to miss out after feeling a bit of muscle fatigue during the match against Chievo.”