Genoa, Atalanta, Torino and Roma.
Four important league matches, four big opportunities to press home Juventus’ advantage – which currently stands at seven points - at the top of the Serie A table.
This was the overriding message communicated by coach Massimiliano Allegri in his pre-match press conference this afternoon in Vinovo as the Tuscan tactician called on his team to “step on the accelerator” between now and the Christmas break, beginning with tomorrow’s trip to the Stadio Luigi Ferraris to face Genoa.
Here are a selection of the key quotes from the boss’ media meeting:
Time to step on the gas
“We must bear in mind that between now and March, our focus is going to be entirely on Serie A; even just between now and Christmas, we’ve got a crucial run of fixtures on the way. Dinamo Zagreb apart – a game that will give us the chance to seal first place in the group – it’s all about the league for now and we mustn’t lose sight of our objectives here at home.
“Starting tomorrow against Genoa, there are four testing matches before we face Milan in the Super Cup final and I think our results in them will have a strong bearing on the destination of the Scudetto title. This time last season we were 12, 13 points behind the leaders so similarly it would be wrong to write off the likes of Roma and Napoli so soon.”
Gearing up for Genoa
“The Marassi is always a difficult place to go and get a result; to do so you need to be at very best for 95 minutes. Genoa never give anything away for free. We’ve got a few more players available now relative to last weekend with some key figures coming back into the group; you can expect to see Paulo Dybala training with us again next week.”
“Gonzalo Higuain is fit and available and should he start, he’ll almost certainly partner Mandzukic up front; Mario himself is in a great place at the moment both mentally and physically. Kean is coming along nicely technically and tactically and, credit to him, he is now a member of the first team squad like everyone else.
“In midfield, Marchisio is likely to start; his condition is improving and he’s up to the task of playing two games on the spin especially since Lemian is going to miss out through illness.
“At the back, it’s a matter of choosing between Benatia and Rugani since Chiellini is not fit to play tomorrow afternoon.”