Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri braced for tough test against Monza
The Bianconeri play on Friday night, 48 hours before leaders Inter Milan travel to fourth-placed Napoli.
Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri says he is focused on the dangers Monza pose rather than the opportunity to go top of Serie A.
Victory at ninth-placed Monza on Friday will take Juventus above Inter, at least for 48 hours, with the leaders facing an awkward assignment at fourth-placed Napoli on Sunday evening.
But Monza upset Juventus 1-0 at home last season before recording a 2-0 victory at the Allianz Stadium in Turin.
“It won’t be easy in Monza and we’ve known this since last year,” Allegri said at his pre-match press conference.
“They are the only team that took six points off of us last season and we didn’t find a way to score against them.
“We face a team with good players who have put many teams in difficulty, the numbers say so.
“Monza, as often happens in football, demonstrates that the difference is mainly made by the defensive phase: in the last 10 games they have not conceded a goal three times and in the other seven they have only conceded one.
“They all defend together, united, so it will be a difficult match.”
While Monza have lost only once in 10 games – 1-0 at Jose Mourinho’s Roma – the Bianconeri are unbeaten in eight with six wins during that sequence.
But Allegri, whose side drew 1-1 at home to Inter last weekend, has played down Juventus’ impressive start to the season.
He said: “We know what our limits are, the group is cohesive and we hold a good spot in the standings, but we haven’t achieved anything yet and we know that in football you can’t afford to give up.
“There are six games left until the end of the first round – four away games and two direct clashes at home – so we have to take one step at a time.
“We always have to look at fifth in the standings and have to watch our backs to maintain the gap from the teams behind us.
“However, this cannot be done with the result of a single match: the championship is a marathon, not a speed race.
“Being two points behind Inter is a source of pride, but again, we haven’t achieved anything yet.”
Juventus have both Danilo and Alex Sandro, who made a late appearance from the bench against Inter, available after injury and will check on Manuel Locatelli.
Italy midfielder Locatelli played the final half-hour against Inter after suffering a fractured rib that ruled him out of international duty in November.
Allegri said: “In his case it’s a problem of pain: against Inter he came on and managed to lend a hand to the team.
“We’ll see how he responds in training. If he is not available, I will make my assessments on Hans Nicolussi Caviglia, otherwise we will find another solution.”