TURIN (Reuters) – Juventus need to beat Manchester City to reach the Champions League knockout stages on Wednesday and many fans still believe the best way to achieve this is by fielding Alvaro Morata and Paulo Dybala together in attack.
At the start of the season, Juventus supporters were eagerly anticipating the new partnership between Morata and 22-year-old Dybala, bought from Palermo to replace his fellow Argentine Carlos Tevez.
Yet the pair have started only five of Juve’s 17 competitive matches this season as the Serie A champions have stumbled.
Instead, coach Massimiliano Allegri has preferred Mario Mandzukic as his main target man even though the Croatia forward has clearly struggled.
Morata, often fielded wide on the left, recently admitted that he has not yet got into gear.
Allegri has insisted that Dybala needs more time to settle and cannot take on an out-and-out striking role. Wednesday, however, could be the right moment to give the pair another try.
Dybala scored the winning goal against AC Milan on Saturday, taking his Serie A tally to six.
“I am happy with what I’m doing and there is always going to be competition for places, but everyone is helping me to settle in,” he said. “I know that I can do much more.”
“I was always convinced of his quality, just as I am of other players, but it’s normal he needed time to settle,” Allegri said.
“Dybala is improving, he has important abilities and did very well between the lines. He works hard too and in time he’ll become a great support striker.”
Juventus, Serie A champions for the last four seasons, have had to rebuild since the departures of Tevez, Andrea Pirlo and Arturo Vidal, with injuries making Allegri’s life even more difficult.
He will have to reshuffle his midfield on Wednesday as Hernanes is suspended and Sami Khedira has a thigh injury.
Saturday’s win was their third in a row and suggested that things are starting to come together, even if Allegri was still not satisfied with their display.
Juventus, unbeaten in Group D, are second with eight points from four games, one less than City who have already qualified.
“The important thing is to try to recover our performance, said City coach Manuel Pellegrini, whose side were thrashed 4-1 at home to Liverpool on Saturday. “We are not going to go to Juventus just to try to draw.”
(Writing by Brian Homewood in Berne, editing by Ian Chadband)