Maurizio Sarri has vowed his Juventus team will not let their focus be affected by the prospect of next week’s top-of-the-table clash with Inter.
Saturday sees Juventus travel to face SPAL, who sit at the bottom of Serie A with just four wins from 24 games, and coming away with three points is imperative for Sarri’s side.
Juventus are locked in a three-way title battle with Inter and Lazio, and they also resume their Champions League mission next Wednesday with a trip to Lyon.
The Inter tussle follows four days later, so it would hardly be surprising if Juventus supporters were already looking beyond the SPAL game.
That approach is not for Sarri, though, as he explained in Friday’s pre-match news conference, stating: “We’re coming into the game ready, both mentally and physically in what is an important stage of the season.
“We’re not worrying about players picking up suspensions ahead of Inter, we’re just focusing on tomorrow’s game.
“We’re not thinking about the Scudetto race, just tomorrow’s game in Ferrara because this is not yet a decisive period.”
Sarri is continually exploring formation options and, quoted on the Juventus website, he added: “We’re taking it game by game. A 4-3-3 depends on the players that we have available, on a defensive level not much changes.
“SPAL are different on a tactical level with [Luigi] Di Biagio at the helm. It will be a difficult game as they are playing to stay in the division.”
Cristiano Ronaldo was rested by Juventus last weekend, when Sarri’s men won 2-0 at home against Brescia, but can be expected to return.
Veteran defender Giorgio Chiellini returned from injury as a substitute in the Brescia game but according to Sarri is “just lacking the last step”, an apparent indication it will be a while before he is ready to start a game.
If veteran goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon plays, a 648th Serie A appearance would take him ahead of Milan great Paolo Maldini and into the outright lead in the most games played by anyone in Italy’s top flight.
Sarri could include Federico Bernardeschi, who has returned to training after a short lay-off, but warned the Italy attacking midfielder is not yet ready to play a full 90 minutes.
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