Massimiliano Allegri has warned his Juventus of the strength of Sporting ahead of the two teams’ confrontation in the quarter-finals of the Europa League.
Juventus hosted the Primeira side in the first leg on Thursday night after the Bianconeri eliminated Freiburg in the round of 16 and Sporting CP beat Arsenal.
Allegri’s side are seventh in Serie A after deducting 15 points for alleged transfer violations, while Sporting are fourth in Portugal’s top flight and unbeaten in their last 11 games in all competitions.
“Tomorrow is a tough match,” Allegri said at a press conference on Wednesday. “This is an important quarter-final against a team that has already shown a positive result in 11 games.
“The Sporting manager (Ruben Amorim) is young and very good. He returned the league title (in 2020-21) to the club after 19 years.
“We have to get it right tomorrow to have an edge when we go to Lisbon.”
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Juventus will benefit from the return of key players on Thursday, including Paul Pogba, whose injured season saw him play just 35 minutes since re-signing with Manchester United last summer.
“Pogba is on his feet, which we are happy about,” Allegri added. “Now we are working to improve his condition.
“Tomorrow he will be available and will be on the bench. Alex Sandro and (Dusan) Vlahovic are both available, but (Mattia) De Sciglio is not.”
Juventus are the second favorite to win the Europa League behind United, but Allegri is looking no further than the quarter-finals.
“Of course it would be great to play in the final,” he said. “But before that, there are still four games ahead, starting with home and away against Sporting.
“Therefore, it is too early to talk about the game in the final. We only think about this next game and we will continue step by step.”