Juventus director Fabio Paratici explains Gigi Buffon starting against Napoli, defends the squad and Andrea Pirlo, but shrugs off Max Allegri’s potential return and potentially missing the Champions League.
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“Buffon was already meant to play in Turin, as Szczesny played so many games, but his ban at the last minute prevented that. By mutual agreement, they all decided to rest Szczesny,” Paratici told Sky Sport Italia.
“There are 10 rounds to go, they are all very important and this is worth as much as all the others. Naturally, the closer we get to the end of the season, the more these results ‘weigh’ on the table.”
Pirlo is under the cosh after a series of poor results and reports are growing that he could be fired if he loses today’s game with Napoli.
“We’ve been at this level for 11 years, we feel the pressure every day. We feel it when we win the Scudetto or other trophies, let alone when things aren’t going well.
“Andrea has always shouldered a great deal of responsibility and pressure during his playing career and this is no different.”
If Juve were not to finish in the top four, would that transform their plans for next season?
“We think positive, we are not thinking about missing out on the top four, but rather focusing on getting results. That’s not a hypothesis.”
Paratici was asked about the general belief among fans and media that Juventus have a weak midfield.
“When I came here 11 years ago, the first year with Gigi Del Neri we had Bonucci, Barzagli and Chiellini. Everyone told us to buy more defenders, but I maintained they were the best we could get. This proved to be correct, as for 10 years they were practically the best defence in the world.
“I think the players in this squad are talented, competitive. Arthur won the Copa America with Brazil less than a year ago, Adrien Rabiot and Rodrigo Bentancur played in the Champions League, Weston McKennie is one of the revelations of the season, etc.
“There are some seasons where things take a while to get into gear. We are all up for debate, but also have to keep a clear head when evaluating the situation.”
So what do Serie A leaders Inter have more than Juventus this season?
“Inter started with the same coach and same style of football as last season, so that was an advantage. We also all know that Antonio Conte drills organisation into his group, so that extra time was a huge advantage.
“Of the top clubs, we’re the only ones who changed coach. There wasn’t even really a pre-season this time, we had a huge number of games packed together, so all these elements go to explain some of the issues.
“We have always put ourselves up for debate and been fiercely self-critical even when we won the Scudetto for nine years in a row. We reflected on the squad even when we were winning.
“I think in general we need to improve, we’ll see at the end of the season, talk to the coach the way we always have done and will analyse what to do going forward.”
Paratici was asked explicitly about the reports Juventus could bring Max Allegri back to Turin.
“At this moment, we are focused on working and doing our best. We are not considering anything beyond these games.”