Max Allegri is confident that Gonzalo Higuain will make an appearance when the Bianconeri play Napoli on Friday.
The Juventus Coach gave a lengthy pre-game press conference, praising the improvements made at Napoli and confirming the status of a number of Juve players ahead of the big game.
“Lichtsteiner is out,” Allegri confirmed.
“Cuadrado has trained a little, along with Bernardeschi but they should be available, I’ll see what the situation is today.
“As for Higuain… the hand is definitely painful, but he could be available. We’ll see today, let’s say I’m confident.
“Let’s see how he is, how much pain he’s in, because it’s pointless risking a player for one game when we have another 30 between now and the end of the season.
“So we need to judge things well, together with him.
“Would he play if it was the Coppa Italia final? Well, it isn’t the Coppa Italia final, we have 30 games ahead of us so…
“Really, I don’t know what condition he’ll be in. I know his hand isn’t good, it’s sore, so let’s see tomorrow.
“Today Gonzalo has given me his full availability, so we’ll try to be confident.
“First of all, Juventus up to this point have made the journey we should have done. Napoli have done and are doing incredible things, because they’ve won 12 games and only drawn two, Inter are two points behind them and then we’re four points behind Napoli.
“We’ve dropped a few points on the road, but then of course football comes down to incidents.
“That said, Napoli really are doing extraordinary things. They’re to be congratulated for what they’re doing, what they’ve done for the past three years, and tomorrow is a good test, especially ahead of Olympiakos.
“That’s the first decisive game of the season, because we can’t get it wrong there. We’re obliged to reach the Last 16 of the Champions League.
“I repeat, Napoli represents a good test for us, because first of all it’s a fascinating match.
“We’re playing in Naples, with a full stadium, so it should be a nice night of sport and football and I hope it is. There should be a spectacular game, because it will have technical players in it.
“It’s an important game, which we have to face as the great team Juventus are, with great respect for Napoli.
“Right now Napoli are ahead of us, they’re favourites for the Scudetto and we need to be good at chasing and keeping up with them, getting to March in the best condition to make the final push.
“Tomorrow is an important step, but not a decisive one. Tomorrow we have to play a great game first and foremost
“That matters above all to get the two results which suit us. A win would definitely be a fantastic leap forward, and we’d give a beautiful signal, but a draw would be another positive result.
“We start from the performance, tomorrow we need to put in a good performance from every point of view: technically, tactically, physically; because tomorrow will be a physical game.
“In these kind of games it’s the details that make the difference, so whoever makes fewer mistakes has more chance of bringing the result home.
“Does defence or attack matter more? In the end all that matters is who comes first, no team finishes top by chance.
“Napoli play beautiful football, and I’d say they’ve learned quickly to do the defensive side too which, among other things, has always been Sarri’s strength.
“Ever since his time at Sangiovannese his strength was the defensive phase.
“Now they’ve understood that to win leagues you need to have the best defence.
“Just look at the numbers, you can’t escape from that. Napoli are first, having conceded nine goals, Inter are second with 10, we’re third on 14 but there’s Roma with a match less so they could match us and – if I’m not mistaken – Roma have conceded nine goals.
“That’s what the league table tells you. I repeat, the last 10 seasons have always told you the same thing: the best defence wins the league.
“This year maybe we won’t have the best defence, but we hope to win all the same. Or maybe we’ll become the best defence, maybe we won’t concede many from here to the end.
“However, we know we play a Napoli side tomorrow who really are beautiful to watch, they play well and have been entertaining people when they play for the past three years – myself included.
“I first met Maurizio in 2003, so we’ve had 15 years together, and his strength has always been the defence.
“Napoli are a team that defend very well, and then after that it depends on the players you have.
“Napoli have players with features that other teams don’t have, because they’ve got small players up-front and they’re all quick.
” Mertens is 1.70m – I don’t know if he’s 1.75m, but you know what I mean – while Mandzukic is 1.90m.
” Khedira is 1.85-1.87m, Jorginho is a bit shorter and he’s 30kg less with different characteristics.
“So he is very good at exploting the characteristics of his players, which is exactly as it should be for a Coach.
“It’s the same for Insigne, Insigne is a little bit different to Higuain. They have different players to the ones we have, so we need to exploit our own characteristics.”
[Translation from Football Italia]