REUTERS - Massimiliano Allegri faces a conundrum as he looks to steer Juventus towards their sixth successive league title and the status of legends.
While the coach still wants more from his players after they took their winning run to five against Cagliari on Sunday, he knows he has to manage resources wisely as games come thick and fast.
The reigning Serie A champions kick off the weekend’s action against struggling Palermo on Friday, but despite the club’s focus on winning a historic sixth straight Scudetto, Allegri will shuffle his options as he keeps one eye on Wednesday’s Champions League round of 16 first leg against FC Porto.
“Our objectives are still to win a sixth straight Scudetto and to go all the way in the Coppa Italia and the Champions League,” he told journalists on Thursday. “We’re aiming for three points against Palermo.
“Titles depend on winning these matches. Our approach needs to be spot-on.”
Juve can provisionally open up a 10-point gap on nearest rivals Roma, but despite their comfortable position, Allegri wants his players to raise their performance levels still further as they bid for that record.
“The most important thing is to get the ultimate victory, the sixth Scudetto,” he said after Sunday’s win. “We would be legends.
He also wants them to achieve it in style.
A recent change of system has helped Juventus play more expansively but Allegri wants his team to be still more “spectacular”.
“We have to raise the bar and improve,” Allegri added. “(The new) system magnifies the players’ qualities and takes advantage of their characteristics.”
The coach will have to use the full breadth of his expensively assembled squad in order to compete on multiple fronts but has problems to solve in defence where both Giorgio Chiellini and Andrea Barzagli will be missing against Palermo and are doubtful for the Porto clash.
Leonardo Bonucci will make his 300th appearance for Juve in the heart of the back line, alongside at least one of Medhi Benatia and Daniele Rugani.
Claudio Marchisio, still on the comeback trail from injury, is unlikely to be risked against Palermo after his star showing against Cagliari, while Allegri has also conceded that he will probably need to manage Sami Khedira’s matches as Juve battle on three fronts.
“Porto have great technique and great international experience,” Allegri concluded, “but we’ll think about them the day after tomorrow.
“We don’t want to be distracted and we’re only thinking about three very important points at Palermo.”
Second-placed Roma host Torino on Sunday, while Napoli, in third, are at Chievo.
Reporting by Ed Dove,; Editing by Neville Dalton