Five South American Juventus players will stay at home and rest instead of travelling to face Napoli in Serie A this weekend, the Italian club's coach Massimiliano Allegri said on Friday.
Argentina’s Paulo Dybala, Uruguay’s Rodrigo Bentancur, Colombian Juan Cuadrado and Brazilian pair Alex Sandro and Danilo were involved in World Cup qualifiers in the early hours of Friday morning.
The fixture schedule has left them with little time to travel back to Italy and be ready for a 1800 local time kickoff in Naples on Saturday, a fixture that may well turn out to be between two rivals for the league title.
“Choosing the team won’t be difficult because I have so few players. I have decided to leave the South Americans at home, they will get back between tonight and tomorrow morning,” Allegri told a news conference.
“Cuadrado is the only one who could have come, but he has a stomach bug and was unable to get back to Italy.
“This must not create excuses, tomorrow the players who will go out on the pitch will be capable of putting in a great performance.”
Allegri also confirmed that Federico Chiesa will not be risked after picking up a muscular problem on Italy duty, leaving him with restricted options following an international break packed with three fixtures per team.
“This is the calendar and we must accept it. We have 13 or 14 players, and three kids. The guys who played earlier today will arrive in Italy on Saturday morning, bringing them to Naples would make little sense considering the risks,” Allegri added.
“They will stay at home and rest, then on Tuesday we have an important match (at Malmo), our first in the Champions League and the most important one of the group stage."
Juventus, who surrendered the league title to Inter Milan last season as they finished fourth, have suffered a difficult start to the new campaign since Allegri returned for a second spell as coach over the summer.
A 2-2 opening day draw against Udinese was followed by a shock 1-0 defeat at home to Empoli, and star striker Cristiano Ronaldo then left at the end of the transfer window.
“Cristiano did not want to play for Juventus any more, he is gone and in any case it would have been his last year.” Allegri said.
“I wish him all the best, but life goes on. I am not interested in talking about what happened. Juve have always won as a group, it is in our DNA.”
(Reporting by Alasdair Mackenzie; Editing by Toby Davis)