Massimiliano Allegri says his men are fit and raring to go as they prepare to embark on a busy run of fixtures that gets underway with tomorrow’s visit of Roma.
Two crucial months that will shape the destiny of the Bianconeri’s season lie ahead for Allegri’s charges, with Inter, Napoli and a Champions League double-header against Bayern Munich the highlights of this busy period.
But before looking ahead to those encounters, the Tuscan tactician must first overcome tomorrow’s hurdle of Roma, a side now under the stewardship of Luciano Spalletti, who recently replaced Rudi Garcia in the Giallorossi dugout.
With a new manager in the hotseat and a team with point to prove, Allegri says Roma should not be ruled out of the hunt for end of season Scudetto honours.
Speaking to the media in Vinovo, he began: “Roma are still in the title race. They have a squad full of quality players, a new coach and I'm sure that will bring about a response as it usually does. Then of course it's Juventus against Roma and that's always a difficult game for us.”
A 10-match Serie A winning run means the Bianconeri approach these busy two months full of confidence as they seek to ramp up their push for silverware on three separate fronts: Serie A, Coppa Italia and Champions League.
Allegri says he is eager for his men to seize the moment.
“We have a hectic run of games to negotiate and to try and win. For now we're focusing on Roma and we'll put out the best team possible, as we did against Lazio.
“We have to be smart enough not to think about what we've done in the last few months but what we need to do between now and the end of the season. That's all that matters because we still have three targets to aim for.
“We have this exciting last-16 clash with Bayern Munich and we have a good chance of going through because this team is on the up. We'll be playing a great side but the main thing is we're in the last 16 and we have this opportunity.
“We need to work hard every day to keep improving, both individually and as a team. If we do that, there's a greater chance that the team will play well and that we can achieve the targets we're aiming for.”
An update from the treatment table revealed that Allegri’s defensive options will be bolstered by the return of Andrea Barzagli, with the defender in line for his first competitive action of 2016 after shaking off a calf injury sustained in December’s win over Carpi.
The boss also sought to explain the thinking behind the decision to leave both Patrice Evra and Sami Khedira at home for the midweek trip to Roma, a move that allowed the duo to focus on sharpening up their conditions ahead of a busy two months.
“Barzagli is OK. I'll have a look at him today but he could play. As for Evra and Khedira, I'd already decided to let Khedira get a full week's training under his belt. If he'd come down to Rome just to sit on the bench, he'd have lost a day's work.
“Evra needed to do some work ahead of tomorrow's game and I preferred to have him fresh and rested especially given that Alex Sandro did well in Udine. My team selection, more than depending on Roma, will be based on our own condition and considering what we have coming up.”