Benched Dybala needed rest, Allegri claims

Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri says his decision to bench Paulo Dybala is not significant, with the striker needing rest after a busy 2017.

Dybala started the Serie A season in great form, but the Argentina international has only hit the back of the net twice in the league since September.

The 24-year-old started Wednesday's Coppa Italia win against Genoa, opening the scoring and setting up forward partner Gonzalo Higuain for Juve's second goal.

Defenders Mattia De Sciglio and Benedikt Howedes have been ruled out of Saturday's home game against Roma, along with goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, although Mehdi Benatia and Wojciech Szczesny will face their former side.

And Allegri hinted Dybala could return to the bench despite impressing in midweek.

"I'm happy that Paulo Dybala was able to find the back of the net in the cup against Genoa," Allegri told a pre-match news conference.

"Paulo has played in 38 matches this year, more than a lot of other players, so it's not unusual if sometimes he has been on the bench.

"Federico Bernardeschi has grown a lot and has always been decisive when he's played, against Genoa he had a good game, especially in the first half. The other lads who came in for the match also did well.

"Buffon, De Sciglio and Howedes are out for tomorrow's game. [Mario] Mandzukic and [Juan] Cuadrado have worked with the team and could be available against Roma. I will decide today after the training session. 

"Those that I have decided will play are Wojciech Szczesny, Medhi Benatia, Giorgio Chiellini, Alex Sandro and Gonzalo Higuain."

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Champions Juve head into the weekend second in Serie A, two places above Roma, with the Scudetto race set to be more competitive than for many years.

And Allegri, whose side have kept four consecutive league clean sheets, including against title rivals Napoli and Inter, is expecting a difficult challenge on Saturday.

"Roma are definitely one of the favourites for the Scudetto," Allegri said. "Away from home Roma haven't even been behind for a single minute and that says a lot about how much quality they possess.

"Eusebio Di Francesco has shown that he is able to prepare his teams well, both technically and tactically. He has been able to give the team a good balance, in what is a difficult environment. Looking in from the outside I think he's doing a good job there, transmitting harmony to the squad.

"The big matches between strong teams are always even, look at the games against Napoli and Inter. I think it will be the same against Roma, an even game.

"I have a strong squad and a group of players with extraordinary qualities. Roma aren't worse, they are potentially at the same level as us and so as I said, they are our rivals - just as they have been the last few years."

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