Juventus have no option but to win. That’s the opinion of Massimiliano Allegri, who leads his side into battle against Croatian outfit Dinamo Zagreb tonight. Having started the Champions League campaign with a home draw against Sevilla, pressure is rising on Juve: do they have what it takes to compete with Europe’s very best?
“We have to deal with tomorrow in the right way, and above all take home three points with our performance.” That is all, Allegri stresses, Juventus can do at this stage.
The Bianconeri came in for criticism for their goalless performance against Sevilla. They then proceeded to lose at Inter, which further added to the pressure. A convincing midweek win over Cagliari was followed on Saturday by a laborious triumph at Palermo.
Juventus saw big names depart in the summer – Paul Pogba and Alvaro Morata – but spent a lot of money on reinforcing the squad. The introduction of Gonzalo Higuain and Miralem Pjanic, plus additional signings aimed at bolstering squad talent and depth, placed the Bianconeri just behind Europe’s main three clubs in the Champions League reckoning.
Recent performances suggest a squad that is still under construction. “The team definitely didn’t have a good game [against Palermo], but I know that, we all know that, the guys first and foremost,” Allegri said on Monday.
What the coach did also state is that there are unnecessary expectations forming – while also reminding that his team does top Serie A despite the critics. Giorgio Chiellini said after the Sevilla game that Juventus are not Real Madrid and will not win every game with ease. Allegri went further in his pre-match Press conference. “We shouldn’t be distracted by this notion that we have to win every game 3-0, because anyone who thinks that is deluding themselves.”
Juve face a Dinamo outfit which last season defeated Arsenal at the Stadion Maksimir. It was their first victory in the group stage of the Champions League since 1999-2000. The Italian champions clearly come in as the favourites, even if they are dealing with injuries. Paulo Dybala will return to partner Higuain in attack, having been rested on Saturday. Marko Pjaca joined from Dinamo in the summer but is expected to begin on the bench.
The Turin giants have finished second in the group stage for the past two seasons and so know the result is vital. Facing the group’s fourth seeds, they have a chance to kick-start their European campaign.
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