Massimiliano Allegri underlined the importance of a good result when Juventus travel to San Siro to play Inter on Sunday evening in their bid to make up the ground between them and the Serie A top four.
The Bianconeri coach continues to consider his side to be second in the table, given that their 53-point haul excluding the 15-point deduction would have them above all of their closest competitors in the league.
Whilst conducting his customary pre-match press duties, Allegri said that the game against Inter will be: “A good match against a strong team, it’s a wonderful match in front of 70,000 spectators, it’s the Derby d’Italia and it will be a fascinating match. We will have to be very good.”
Allegri continued by explaining: “We can improve, we need to improve in certain phases of the match especially in managing the ball and understanding the situation. However, I would say that there has been significant growth throughout the team. In the meantime let’s think about getting a result tomorrow evening.”
Juventus will be aiming to leave the Giuseppe Meazza with all three points having already dropped to an unfortunate defeat at the hands of Stefano Pioli’s Milan in October.
The Old Lady has suffered a mixed set of results against their top four rivals over the course of the season.
Allegri said: “It’s important and difficult in Milan because six-pointers are always difficult to play. We lost at San Siro against Milan as well as in Naples and in Rome. At home, we beat Lazio and Inter and drew with Roma.”
He continued by reiterating that his side have won 53 points so far this season, which, without a points deduction, would be enough to put Juve in second place in the league.
“We are now behind in the standings,” Allegri said. “It is difficult to make up the ground but we have to do our best. Tomorrow is important, looking at the league table, I repeat and I’ll say it from now until the end of the season: the team on the pitch has scored 53 points and that’s how we consider it.
“Between now and when the sentence comes on April 19, we’ll see what happens, but we’re working on it. We still have the Europa League and the Coppa Italia. Now let’s think about tomorrow night.
“We need to defend second place because we have 53 points which is three more than Inter, five more than Milan, four more than Lazio and six more than Roma. We don’t have to evaluate what happens off the pitch.
“If at the end of the year the team is sixth or fifth due to sanctions, it will mean that the season has not gone well. Right now we need to defend second place, which is where we are on the pitch.”
Allegri also provided an injury update on some of his attacking options, amidst a slight selection crisis heading into the game in Milan.
Federico Chiesa and Angel Maria will undergo further assessments before Inter take to the pitch on Sunday. The coach explained: “They could both be out, I don’t know, we’ll see after training. We don’t have options up front without Kean and Milik, we have Soulé but only Vlahovic as a starting striker.”
Allegri also spoke of Paul Pogba, who has still only featured for 35 minutes of competitive football this season. The French international will not be involved in training for the coming weeks.
Allegri elaborated: “We’ve been saying the same things for eight months. When he’s doing well, as happened before Torino, he’ll be available, I doubt he’ll be available immediately after the break, it’ll take a little more time.”
Kick off at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza will be at 19.45 on Sunday evening.