Massimiliano Allegri made it clear that Saturday’s clash with Roma – the 169th meeting between the two sides in Serie A – marks the start of a hugely important week for Juventus as he appeared at his pre-match press conference on Friday.
"Roma are a very good technical side – the only other Italian team left in the Champions League alongside Juventus," said the Bianconeri coach. "Nobody was expecting them to be where they are in the table, but we cannot afford to take any match lightly. The table doesn’t tell the full story – it will only give a true picture on 29 December, when we reach the halfway point of the season.
"The lads have had a great week. Tomorrow we need to be resilient, technically sound and physical because it’s the start of a very important week. We need to get the three points. It will be difficult – they have players that can win the game on their own."
Allegri also revealed part of his starting line-up for the visit of the Giallorossi.
"[Giorgio] Chiellini, [Mattia] De Sciglio, Alex Sandro, [Miralem] Pjanic and [Cristiano] Ronaldo will play," he said. "I still need to decide on the other centre-back.
"[Sami] Khedira is back available and [Rodrigo] Bentancur returns from suspension. [Joao] Cancelo is working on his rehabilitation, while [Juan] Cuadrado is in Germany today to see whether we need to opt for conservative treatment or an operation."
BATTLE WITH DI FRANCESCO
The Juventus coach went on to speak about the man who’ll be in the opposing dugout on Saturday night.
"[Eusebio] Di Francesco is one of the youngest coaches around," he said. "He took Roma to the Champions League semi-finals last year. He’s got all the attributes needed to help the team recover and he still has time to have another great season with Roma.
"In any case, it will take a much lower points tally to get into the Champions League this year in comparison with recent seasons – around 62 or 65 points. In terms of the points tally needed for the Scudetto, a lot comes down to where Napoli are at the halfway mark. I think it’ll be around 87 or 88 points, 90 at the most."
CHIELLINI ON THE UP AND UP
Last but not least, Allegri had words of praise for veteran centre-back Giorgio Chiellini.
"Giorgio has come on a lot, both as a defender and in terms of his personality," he said. "Taking on the captain’s armband has made him become more responsible and calmer. We have a very good defence here at Juventus. Chiellini is a different kind of player to the others – he has more experience and more matches under his belt."