After the euphoria of a magical European night, Juventus must now get back to the bread and butter of Serie A with no less focus and determination – that was the message stressed by Massimiliano Allegri as he spoke to the media ahead of his team's visit to Empoli.
Saturday's match at the Stadio Castellani may look easy on paper with the Tuscan outfit currently lying in 18th place, but Aurelio Andreazzoli's men have probably earned less than they deserved.
“Empoli play good football,” Allegri began. “They have the fourth most possession in the opposition half and they haven't lost any of their games badly. It could be a very tricky match unless we get our approach spot on.”
The Bianconeri are looking to return to winning ways in the league after dropping their first points of the season against Genoa in their last outing – something Allegri feels was not undeserved. “Genoa deserved their point because they stayed in the game and stopped us from playing ours. That said, you have to remember that you can't win every single game. They scored from a cross where we switched off because we thought the ball was going out and didn't, and [Krzysztof] Piatek had a shot in the second half. It was the game in which we conceded the fewest opportunities but mistakes happen.”
The boss went on to reveal some of his decisions regarding Saturday's line-up.
“[Cristiano] Ronaldo will play. He's fine at the moment. We'll see if he needs to rest further down the line. [Giorgio] Chiellini is fine too and he'll play. Either Cancelo or Alex Sandro will be rested. I still have to decide on Douglas Costa and whether or not we're going to play with a double pivot. [Wojciech] Szczesny will continue in goal but [Mattia] Perin will get his chance in the coming games. [Leonardo] Spinazzola will also be in the squad for this one, partly so he can experience matchday and the build-up again.”
The boss also confirmed that Mario Mandzukic, Sami Khedira and Emre Can won't be involved this weekend. He explained: “Khedira will undergo tests on Monday or Tuesday to check his condition and see if he can resume full training. As for Can, we're carrying out some final tests and then we'll decide if he needs surgery, but we hope to have him available again as soon as possible.”
Allegri then looked back on the midweek win at Manchester United before responding to suggestions he should be considered one of Europe's best coaches. “[Tuesday] was a wonderful night of football in a fantastic stadium. We're improving as a team and the quality of our football is improving too.
“The club made some excellent signings once again this year, which included a world-class player in Ronaldo. Plus, we've had the same players for two years and the more they play together the better their understanding.“[Josep] Guardiola has won loads and he'll be up there contending the biggest prizes again this year. [Carlo] Ancelotti has won the Champions League both as a player and a coach. I can't be compared to them because sadly I have lost two finals. Hopefully this will be the year I put that right.”
Finally, the manager commented on Giuseppe Marotta's departure and the other changes within the club. “I wish Marotta all the very best for the future. He, together with the president, [Pavel] Nedved and [Fabio] Paratici, helped Juventus grow and become what it is today. “It's the start of a new era but Paratici has been here for nine years and has been instrumental to the club's success in this period. Nedved has been here since 2001, Marco Re and Giorgio Ricci since 2003. They're important figures for Juve. They're not new and they have already contributed to the growth of this team.”