Paul Pogba’s condition will be assessed ahead of Juventus’ Europa League clash with Freiburg on Thursday as the midfielder is still eyeing his first start since returning to the Bianconeri.
Pogba made his long-awaited second Juventus debut in a 4-2 win over cross-country rivals Torino last month after suffering several injury setbacks since returning from Manchester United last July.
Coming off the bench in this match, the Frenchman did the same in Sunday’s demoralizing 1-0 loss to Roma in Serie A.
Asked if Pogba could make his first start of the season when Juventus host Freiburg in the first leg of the round of 16, boss Massimiliano Allegri expressed hope but uncertainty.
Allegri said: “Yesterday (Tuesday) he trained well, today (Wednesday) he was apart from the group. Tomorrow (Thursday) morning we will see if he is free.
“He didn’t work with the team (Wednesday). I think it will be available, but we’ll see.”
Ángel Di Maria’s hat-trick saw Juventus edge past Nantes in the last round of the competition, securing a 3-0 away win after the Bianconeri narrowly managed to draw 1-1 at home against France.
Now focused on Freiburg pic.twitter.com/8pxJJOyHC4
— Juventus (@juventusfcen) March 7, 2023
As Freiburg are one of three teams that have not lost in the Europa League group stage this season (also Betis and Fenerbahce), Allegri is aware of the need to improve the home game.
“We want to lay the groundwork for the reciprocal phase,” he said. “They are physically strong, fifth in Germany, invincible in Europe.
“We have to get back to winning at home – we have only won once in the Champions League and the Europa League (this season at the Allianz Stadium).
“So we need attention, otherwise we will have to do the same as against Nantes. We have to win on Thursday, whether it’s by one or two goals, it won’t be easy, it will be balanced.”
Juventus will benefit from the experience of Filip Kostic, the Europa League winner with Eintracht in Frankfurt last season, and the Serb says the team’s main goal now is to win a second European club trophy.
“I know the competition, I won it with Eintracht, we dreamed of winning the Europa League. With Juventus it’s different, the goals were different, but now we want to win,” said Kostic.
“They are a tough, compact, solid opponent. To win this Europa League, and this is our main goal, we need to overcome them. We want to go as far as possible and play from game to game.”
Frankfurt were formed #OTD in 1899
1980@Eintracht || #UEL pic.twitter.com/B8iXPPGhCv
— UEFA Europa League (@EuropaLeague) March 8, 2023