On Sunday, Juve’s season officially kicks off with an encounter against Udinese at the Dacia Arena. This match will be Massimiliano Allegri’s first since his departure from the club two years ago.
The returning manager held his pre-match press conference on Saturday, and naturally discussed all major topics from the summer.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s transfer saga was an ever-present topic in the newspapers headlines for months, but with only ten days left before the closure of the market, the tactician confirmed the Portuguese’s stay at the club.
“Ronaldo didn’t play on Thursday because we were coming off a heavy training workload and I gave him half a day off,” said Allegri in his press conference as translated by Football Italia.
“Ronaldo is an added bonus for us, because he guarantees a large number of goals. Obviously, we also have to work as a team to get the best out of an individual.
“He has always trained well, I just read the gossip in the papers. He never told us he wanted to leave. Ronaldo told me that he is staying at Juventus.”
The coach also talked about his opponents’ strong points, and is expecting a tough physical battle for his players.
“As I have always said, the first game is very difficult, especially as Udinese are a physical side. They didn’t concede any goals from corners last season, are good on the counter and well-organised at the back,” said Allegri also via Football Italia.
“We must be ready, as to win we need a solid performance with good technique and a lot of patience.”
The 54-year-old spoke about Aaron Ramsey who has recently been converted into a Regista, and reassured the importance of Paulo Dybala for his team.
However, Manuel Locatelli won’t start the match, as he was barely able to train with the team, having completed his transfer from Sassuolo only few days ago.
“Ramsey is improving there and it’s a good role for him, as he doesn’t have to run as much there. I am happy with Locatelli’s arrival, but he needs 10 days of work to get into full squad. If he’s needed tomorrow, he can maybe play 15 minutes.”
“Paulo turned up to pre-season training as if this was his first year at Juve. He too knows that the last two seasons were not at the level of his potential. He’s talented, but you need to train at a certain intensity if you want to play football at a certain level. He will be the captain tomorrow, if he plays.
“We must realize that in order to win the Scudetto, we need daily work that is physical, technical and mental. If we are still in the running for the title in March, that means the team has found its balance.”
Juventus have been tipped to win the Scudetto by many observers, especially following Inter’s downsizing policy, but the coach wants to take it one step at a time.
“Usually, the favourite is the team that won it last time… Let’s take it one step at a time and try winning the first game.
“I don’t feel that I have anything to prove, what I did in the previous five years will remain in the museum. We all have to challenge ourselves every day, otherwise we can’t be in a condition to win.
“It’s the same for Cristiano Ronaldo, he won five Ballon d’Or trophies, but if he has a bad season, people will only remember that. The same goes for Federico Chiesa, what he did at the Euros no longer matters.”