Andrea Pirlo warned the victory over leaders Milan will be “of little use” to Juventus if they fail to defeat Sassuolo on Sunday and says the Rossoneri remain the team to beat in the title race.
Champions Juve ended Milan’s 27-match unbeaten run in the Italian top flight with a 3-1 victory at San Siro on Wednesday.
The Turin giants had eased to a ruthless 4-1 win over Udinese in their first match of the year last weekend and an impressive triumph over Milan served as a warning to their rivals.
Juve boss Pirlo stressed the importance of his side maintaining the high standards they have set when they take on a Sassuolo team that are just a point behind them in the table.
The former Italy playmaker said in a media conference on Saturday: “It was an important victory in Milan, at an important moment too, but if we don’t win tomorrow, it will be of little use.
“I still consider Milan the team to beat, because they are at the top of the table.”
He added: “We take our responsibilities. We have been winning for nine years, it is normal that there is pressure on us. I’ve asked the team to improve their concentration and mental strength, especially when we take the lead, that is a very important phase.
“We must have the same desire to achieve a result – whoever the opponent is – and then we will see where we are in April.”
@Pirlo_official has begun answering the media’s questions: “Sassuolo is an excellent team, they’ve been playing together for a while. The coach is very good at constructing the game. It will be a difficult match, we can’t let them go without pressure from us.”#JuveSassuolo pic.twitter.com/hfysVoeykx
— JuventusFC (@juventusfcen) January 9, 2021
Matthijs de Ligt became the latest Juve player to test positive for COVID-19 this week, with Juan Cuadrado and Alex Sandro having missed the win over Milan after contracting the coronavirus.
Pirlo is not feeling sorry for himself after the Netherlands defender joined the list of absentees.
“The positive cases affect us, as they affect anyone. But let’s think about moving forward, there are other problems,” he said.
“I have four defenders, in addition to [Alessandro] Di Pardo, who can play on the flank. I will choose between them, because we are in the bubble and we cannot summon other players.”
Pirlo will be able to call upon Giorgio Chiellini and Merih Demiral at Allianz Stadium this weekend, while Alvaro Morata will be checked on to see if the striker can return from a thigh injury.