Allegri talks ahead of Sassuolo-Juventus


Coach Massimiliano Allegri begun by addressing the talk of the week, which was Paulo Dybala leaving the bench early against Parma: “He apologized and it was the only right thing to do since he is an intelligent guy. The club gave him the no.10, which is a big responsibility, and he is the vice-captain. His behavior was not aligned to that, but he understood and the case is closed.”

On Dybala’s role: “It has not changed, it is just a matter of skills of who plays alongside him. Cristiano Ronaldo is different from Gonzalo Higuain and Mario Mandzukic. He has always had few chances, even though he did not score. He plays in the same position, it is not like he is used as fullback. He has always been involved in the build-up of the action and always tried to finish it as well. He just has not been very prolific, then Cristiano maybe takes away some of those chances. I always say that the players must complement each other. I often smile when I see what is written on this matter.”

On Douglas Costa: “I was not bothered by his situation and Dybala’s one, but you are part of the group and you need to respect your teammates. He has had a weird season, he got off to a good start, then the Sassuolo thing happened, he got a four-game ban and then injured himself, he returned but then was banged up again. What happened on Monday is a private matter. They are young and I always say to them that they have to handle themselves well on and off the pitch. They can have some fun, but they have to be able to balance things out. These things happen, luckily nobody got seriously hurt in the accident. We are in a crucial stretch, so everybody must be in their peak physical and mental condition.”

On the injury list: “We are in a good spot, you will soon be able to write that the BBC is back since Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini will resume practicing regularly next week and Andrea Barzagli is on his way too. We have collected 60 points, we have the best statistical defence, but, by the way you tell it, it looks like we always need to win 3-0. We just tied a match due to blunders and the centre-backs have been crucified despite a good game, where we had few chances and it seemed like an easy one.”

On the lineup: “Mattia De Sciglio might join Martin Caceres, Daniele Rugani and Alex Sandro in the back. I will pick one between Federico Bernardeschi and Dybala. Sami Khedira is a world class player, he is fresh since he missed a lot of games. He hit the post twice on Saturday, he made his presence felt. I am happy for the condition of the midfielders, we are growing as a team there. Khedira will start with Bernardeschi up front, otherwise Rodrigo Bentancur or Emre Can will be in the XI. Blaise Matuidi is fine, he needs to play with they right kind of players because he can have troubles in some areas. Wojciech Szczesny will return.”

On Caceres: “He is a great player and a great purchase and he can play on the flank too. He did well on Saturday, but defenders generally perform well if they are helped by midfielders and strikers, which did not happen in the final 15 minutes. We controlled the ball and run less in the first half, but we were not able to do the same in the second half and when that happens everything is possible. We have to be locked in defensively when the opponents have the ball. We have been able to pull it off, against Roma for instance. We were more vulnerable not because Bonucci and Chiellini were out, but because we were not defending properly as a whole. We allowed some fast-breaks, we need to manage the ball better.”

On free kicks: “It is that kind of moment, perhaps we will drill eight consecutive ones. I expect us to improve there.”

On Roberto De Zerbi: “He is young and talented and improved a lot, he cares about his team being organized and playing well. He is one of the most promising managers and at Sassuolo he found a club where he can grow because the management is excellent, the environment is healthy and he can instill his ideas.”

On the game: “It will be a difficult one if we do not have ball possession. They are enthusiastic and they do not have much pressure considering where they are in the standings, while we need to widen our lead on Napoli. On Saturday, we needed to create more because we had not done that in the two previous fixtures, while we need one further step on Sunday, which is a good defensive phase. Once we will have fixed that, we will be all-set for the home stretch.”

On Joao Cancelo: “He can play fullback, wing back or winger. He is way more disciplined now, but he remains extraordinary with the ball on his feet and he is unlike else.”

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