Juventus are hunting for silverware in the Coppa Italia and Champions League, with their knockout campaign starting at Villarreal.
Massimiliano Allegri remains optimistic about Juventus’ chances of succeeding in the Coppa Italia and the Champions League.
The Bianconeri occupy the final Champions League qualification spot in Serie A, three points ahead of the fifth-placed Atalanta, who have a game.
Allegri’s team struggled to find their feet at the start of the season. Still, they are now unbeaten across seven games in all competitions, including a 2-1 win over Sassuolo that booked their spot in the Coppa Italia semi-final – where they will meet Fiorentina across a two-legged tie.
While the 54-year-old has repeatedly quashed claims that Juve could mount a late charge for the Scudetto, he suggested his side fancy their chances in the other two competitions they are in.
Allegri told reporters ahead of Tuesday’s away first-leg clash with Villarreal in the Champions League last 16.
“We play to win, both the Cup and the Champions League, then obviously it all depends on how things go.
“How does our approach change with the new away goals rule? I don’t know yet. In the meantime, let’s think about getting a result.
“Order, technique and patience: it is unlikely that the next round will be decided on Tuesday.
“The derby [a 1-1 draw with Torino] was a hard-fought game; Juve played a good match.
“But it would help if you always were calm and balanced in the analysis.
“At the beginning of the season against Torino, we would have lost.
“I’m happy with the team’s approach, so I want to see them play well with and without the ball against Villarreal.
“We will have to be both good and lucky.”
Juve’s upturn in form has coincided with the January signing of Dusan Vlahovic, who moved from Fiorentina in a deal that could be worth up to €80million.
However, Juve will be without talisman Paulo Dybala – who leads the club scoring and assist charts this season (12 goals, six assists) – after the forward sustained a muscle injury against Torino.
In the Argentina international’s absence, Allegri confirmed that new star Vlahovic would be supported by Alvaro Morata. He has scored in two of his last four appearances against Villarreal in all competitions (two goals).
“Alvaro Morata and Vlahovic play up top, then let’s see for the rest.
“I have some doubts in midfield.
“We must not give an excessive load of responsibility to Vlahovic – this is his [Champions League] debut.
“Let’s not forget that. I must also protect him as I have done with others. He is just 22 years old.”
Allegri has progressed from four of his previous five round-of-16 ties in charge of Juventus in the Champions League, with his only elimination coming against Pep Guardiola’s Bayern Munich in 2015-16.
Meanwhile, Villarreal head coach Unai Emery has only won one of his six games as a head coach in the competition’s knockout stages (D1 L4), losing each of the last three in a row Allegri reserved praise for his opposite number.
“It is not an easy tie – Villarreal have a good coach, they have technique, physicality and also they have come from a reasonable period.
“On our part, we will have to bring the maximum effort.”
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