Tense Allegri, funny Stange

Tense Allegri, funny Stange
(Left to right) Juventus striker Fernando Llorente, goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon and coach Massimiliano Allegri, at the Singapore Selection-Juventus pre-match press conference on 14 Aug 2014.

He sat with his arms folded, resting on the table in front of him, stoic, almost disinterested.

But there were two occasions at last night's press conference for tomorrow's Singapore Selection-Juventus clash at the National Stadium, that saw Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri step out from behind the mask he wore.

Breaking away from the low tones of his first few answers, Allegri's volume rose when he was confronted with the situation surrounding Arturo Vidal.

"Arturo Vidal," he said, before pausing to clear his throat, "he's not going anywhere."

The football grapevine is rife with talk Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal is on the hunt for Chile's star midfielder.

A picture on The Daily Mail's website recently showed the 27-year-old donning a Juventus training kit, but signing his autograph on a United jersey.

"Vidal is now training... differentiated training, as we've said... (but) he's going to stay with Juventus," insisted Allegri.

No comfort

A little later, he again was uncomfortable when asked about taking over a club which enjoyed much success under former coach Antonio Conte.

Allegri started to answer, paused, and then said: "Juventus are coming from three fantastic years, and we're in a way starting from zero, in the sense, it'll be difficult to win the championship for the fourth time."

Conte won three Serie A titles in as many years at the Turin club, leaving at the end of last season with reports in Italy claiming he will take over the Italian national team.

"Of course, there is pressure, not only (to do well in the) Italian league but also the Uefa Champions League," said Allegri, who guided AC Milan to the 2010-11 Serie A title before leaving the club at the end of last season.

The 47-year-old was more relaxed fielding questions regarding tomorrow's fixture against a Bernd Stange-led Singapore Selection side.

With world stars like Carlos Tevez, Paul Pogba and Fernando Llorente, Allegri's Juventus thumped the Indonesian Super League All-Stars 8-1 in Jakarta last week, before squeezing out a 3-2 win over Australia's A-League All-Stars on Sunday.

When asked if he was expecting a goal-rush in Singapore, Allegri remained respectful.

He said: "This is an important test for our preparations. All matches are different and need to be faced in the right way."

"I still haven't decided my formation (and starting 11) but I want everyone to get playing time before we head back to Italy," added Allegri, who paid tribute to the new National Stadium, calling it a "super-modern stadium with fantastic facilities".

Hoping for the match to kick-start the return of the fabled Kallang Roar, Stange, who is also the Singapore national coach, was pleased to be part of such a big football match again.

"This is such a big media conference...

"I've missed it in the last four to five years," said the German, who took over the reins of the national team last year.


He declared that despite calling up three foreign players - Home United's Sirina Camara and Warriors FC's Nicolas Velez, Miroslav Pejic - the game will be used as preparation for the various national teams' forays over the next few months.

He was referring to the U-23s at next month's Asian Games and the Lions' defence of the Suzuki Cup in November.

"Now we're back to big football here...(with) Juventus who are giants in international football," said the 66-year-old.

If Stange was tense ahead of the match on such a big stage, he was letting on, even making the conference room erupt with laughter.

Sitting next to goalkeeper Hassan Sunny and midfield star Hariss Harun while waiting for their Juventus counterparts who were behind schedule, Stange said, tongue in cheek: "I fine my players $10 for every one minute that they are late, and now it's already $60 for Allegri."

The Juventus man then fired a veiled warning that hinted at the possibility that his team will pay that $60 value, in goals.

When asked what he expects in tomorrow's match, Allegri said: "I'm sure we're going to do good work (tomorrow), we've done good work up till now."


This article was first published on August 15, 2014.
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