A Europa League last-16 first leg against Freiburg is next on the agenda for Juventus, who hope to have midfielder Paul Pogba available.
Paul Pogba’s fitness will be assessed ahead of Juventus’ Europa League meeting with Freiburg on Thursday, with the midfielder still eyeing his first start since his Bianconeri return.
Pogba made his long-awaited second Juve debut in a 4-2 win over the Torino rivals last month after suffering several injury setbacks since his return from Manchester United last July.
The France international, who came off the bench in this game, performed similarly in Sunday’s demoralizing 1-0 defeat at Roma in Serie A.
Boss Massimiliano Allegri was hopeful but uncertain when asked if Pogba could make his first start of the season when Juventus host Freiburg in the first leg of their last 16 tie.
Allegri said: “He trained well yesterday [Tuesday], today [Wednesday] he was separated from the group. Tomorrow [Thursday] morning we will understand if he can be available.
“He didn’t work with the team [on Wednesday]. I think he’ll be available, but we’ll see.”
An Angel Di Maria hat-trick fired Juve past Nantes in the final round of the competition to secure a 3-0 away win after the Bianconeri toiled to a 1-1 home draw with the French side.
With Freiburg one of only three teams unbeaten in the Europa League group stage this term (also Real Betis and Fenerbahce), Allegri is aware of the need for a better domestic display.
“We want to lay the foundations for the second stage,” he said. “They are physically strong, they are fifth in Germany, they are undefeated in Europe.
“We have to get back to winning at home – we’ve only won once in the Champions League and the Europa League [at the Allianz Stadium this season].
“So we’ll need focus or we’ll have to do the same as we did against Nantes. We have to win on Thursday, whether it’s by one or two goals – it won’t be easy, it’ll be close.”
Juventus will be able to draw on the experience of Filip Kostic, a Europa League winner with Eintracht Frankfurt last season, and the Serb says lifting Europe’s secondary club trophy is now the team’s main goal.
“I know the competition, I won it with Eintracht – it was our dream to win the Europa League. With Juventus it’s different, the goals were different, but now we want to win it,” Kostic said.
“They are a tough, compact and solid opponent. To win this Europa League – which is our main goal – we will have to overcome them. We want to go as far as possible and we will go game by game.”