Milan (AFP) – Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri said he won’t rest key players for Friday’s Serie A clash at Atalanta, days before a Champions League semi-final trip to Monaco in the club’s pursuit of a historic treble.
Juve head to Atalanta with an eight-point lead on second-placed Roma and hoping to take another step towards a record sixth consecutive scudetto.
There are wider expectations that Allegri’s Serie A pacesetters can make amends for their 2015 Champions League final defeat to Barcelona by progressing all the way to, and winning this year’s final in Cardiff on June 3 — a prospect that would force a rearranged Italian Cup final with Lazio, set for June 2 in Rome.
Allegri admitted that ideally, he would like to “finish the season” on June 4.
But with Ligue 1 side Monaco flying high, he insists nothing’s won yet and the primary focus is on making sure Juve give Roma no chance of a late-season comeback.
“This blessed treble!” Allegri said as he downplayed those hopes. “Let’s concentrate on winning the title, then on the second (Champions League), and maybe also the third (Italian Cup).
“We’re closing in on the league title, we’ve yet to play the Italian Cup final and we’ve still got two more games before reaching Cardiff.
“But we’ve won nothing yet. It’s an important month and we can’t afford to give Roma any opportunity to think we’re going to slip up.”
Allegri’s men have beaten Atalanta home and away the past three seasons, including a 3-1 win in Turin earlier in the campaign, but, at the very least, should be given a fright in Bergamo, where the local “Nerazzuri” support has legendary status among Serie A fan bases.
– ‘Hats off’ –
Atalanta’s fervent black and blue army have spurred Gian Piero Gasperini’s men on to home wins over Napoli, Inter Milan and Roma this season. They currently sit fifth with a five-point lead on AC Milan as they chase a coveted place in next season’s Europa League.
Allegri conceded: “Atalanta are doing great, hats off to Gasperini and to the club for what they’ve achieved.
“They’ll be a far different side to the one we met earlier in the season. It’s crucial for their Europa League hopes, and crucial for our scudetto chances. They’re a top side, and it’s never easy to win in Bergamo.”
Allegri will mostly count on the nucleus of the lineup he intends to start away to Monaco next week.