If Juventus manages to maintain their lead in Portugal, they will make it to the Europa League semi-finals, which will be their first time since the 2013-14 season
Massimiliano Allegri is urging his Juventus squad to exhibit “character” as they try to protect their lead in the second leg against Sporting CP in the Europa League. Juventus won the first leg 1-0 at home with a Federico Chiesa goal, and now they seek their fourth Europa League championship, which would bring them second in the competition’s all-time rankings, just behind Sevilla’s six wins.
Juventus must overcome a strong Sporting team, who have already eliminated Premier League leaders Arsenal and are undefeated in their last six home matches across all competitions.
Allegri knows his side will have to show a strong mentality to preserve their slender advantage at the Estadio Jose Alvalade on Thursday, telling Sky Sport Italia: “You need to have personality, speed, and calmness.
“The match is long and will give us difficulties, they are an excellent team in terms of organization.
“The goal is important and not simple, Sporting eliminated Arsenal. We don’t think about the first leg but that is a challenge.”
The verdict regarding Juventus’ 15-point deduction in Serie A for violating financial regulations, which was expected to be announced on Wednesday, has been postponed until Thursday. The announcement will come just before Juventus’ match against Sporting CP in Portugal.
Allegri gives Szczesny injury update
Allegri, though, is keen for his players to focus on the big game ahead of them, saying: “We knew that today was an important day. Both in terms of the ruling and his outcome, but above all to better prepare for tomorrow’s match.
“Once we know about the ruling, we put it aside and we’ll think about the match.”
While Allegri revealed Federico Chiesa was a doubt for the game, he had positive news on Adrien Rabiot and Wojciech Szczesny, explaining: “Szczesny is fine, he’s fine. Rabiot is available. He’s done all the training.”
Nicolo Fagioli’s poor clearance led to the winning goal during Juventus’ 1-0 loss to Sassuolo on Sunday. He was substituted off, leaving the player in tears on the bench.
Full-back Alex Sandro showed solidarity for his 22-year-old team-mate ahead of the Sporting clash, telling reporters: “It’s good to cry sometimes. We have to respect Fagioli’s and everyone’s reaction after victories and defeats.
“Fagioli is young, but he already has experience. He is not the future, but the present of Juve.”