Juventus coach Massmiliano Allegri says he won’t be taking Serie A’s other ‘Bianconeri’ side, Udinese, lightly on Saturday when key midfielder Claudio Marchisio could make his return for the Italian champions.
Juventus host Udinese, who also play in black and white, in Turin looking to stretch their four-point lead on title rivals Napoli, who host third-placed Roma later in the day.
But a year after Frenchman Cyril Thereau silenced Juventus Stadium with a 78th minute winner that secured a shock 1-0 win for the northerners, Allegri is taking nothing for granted.
Although Italy international Marchisio will be welcomed back with open arms from a six-month injury absence, Allegri has a selection dilemma as he looks to keep key players fresh for their Champions League trip to Lyon in midweek.
Spanish wing-back Dani Alves and Argentina striker Gonzalo Higuain are both set to be rested, meaning Paulo Dybala should start up front with Croatia striker Mario Mandzukic.
Allegri said Friday: “Tomorrow’s game will be the first in a difficult month for us. Plus, tomorrow we need to beat Udinese if we are to capitalise on any negative result for either Napoli or Roma.
“Marchisio did well in a friendly game in midweek, but we’ll see if he’s still a risk or not.
“Ideally, we’ll try to introduce him at some point in the game, but when you return from a cruciate knee ligament injury, you have to be careful.”
With Napoli four points in arrears in second place and Roma five adrift in third, Juventus have a great chance to steal a march on their title rivals.
But a year after suffering a shock defeat to Udinese on the opeining day of the season, Allegri remains cautious – especially as the northerners recently appointed former Juventus coach Gigi Delneri following the sacking of Beppe Iachini.
“It’s not easy to play against Udinese, Delneri is a great coach,” he added.
“But we have to win tomorrow because it would set us up well for our trip to Lyon, and I call on the fans to show up in numbers.” – Agence France-Presse