The Italian says 22-year-old must perform on Tuesday and believes Sergio Aguero’s injury would have brought a smile to Massimiliano Allegri’s face
Fabio Capello says Juventus’ Champions League meeting with Manchester City on Tuesday is an exam that star Paul Pogba must pass.
With Arturo Vidal and Andrea Pirlo having left Turin during the summer, and Claudio Marchisio and new signing Sami Khedira missing the start of the season through injury, the creative midfield burden is now lays firmly on Pogba’s shoulders.
However, things have not gone well, with Juve losing their opening two fixtures in Serie A for the first time in their history before snatching a draw at home to Chievo on Sunday with a disputed penalty from Paulo Dybala.
Pogba, who was given the No.10 jersey following Carlos Tevez’s summer return to Boca Juniors, has performed poorly in all three games and former Bianconeri boss Capello says that the 22-year-old simply has to deliver against City.
“Pogba should do something important,” the 69-year-old Italian coach told the Gazzetta dello Sport.
“It will be a fantastic clash between the Frenchman and Yaya Toure, who when he starts well, is uncontainable.
“But with Pogba, we’re talking about a boy who has the potential to be a super player.
“But now that he has been given the steering wheel, he must prove himself capable of driving, in the sense of showing everyone of his real value.
“The match in Manchester will be an important exam for him, and also for Juve.
“The Bianconeri have started badly but the league is long, whereas the Champions League is a different theatre. There’s time to recover and Allegri’s team still seem very strong to me.
“Psychologically, the game against City will be very important. Winning it would be a huge achievement.”
Indeed, Capello believes that City are potential winners, after a summer in which they strengthened their squad with players of the calibre of Raheem Sterling, Kevin De Bruyne and Nicolas Otamendi.
However, he also believes that Chelsea, despite a poor start to their Premier League campaign, are also contenders.
“Real Madrid, Barcelona and Bayern Munich are the favourites [for the Champions League] but I see Manchester City being very strong,” the ex-Russia boss stated.
“It’s difficult to make predictions but Juventus will certainly be a contender, just like Chelsea, who are in difficulty in the Premier League but for this reason could be dangerous in Europe.
“But City, this year, look to have made the mental leap forward they needed to.
“It’s a team that has no weak points. They were a little lacking on the right flank but they have signed De Bruyne for €75 million!
“Maybe it was unwise to allow [Edin] Dzeko to go to Roma but City are more effective on set-pieces, corners and the welcome surprise is that this season they’ve yet to concede a goal.
“Then, you can’t forget a champion like Toure, a true tank of a player when he gets going.”
However, Capello admitted that Juve can at least take some encouragement out of the fact that City’s star striker, Sergio Aguero, is set to miss the game at the Etihad with an injury picked up in Saturday’s victory at Crystal Palace.
“City will miss him a lot because Kun, more than being just a goalscorer, is a charismatic player; a point of reference,” he added.
“If I were Allegri, I would have smiled when I heard the Aguero news.
“However, in Manchester, it will nonetheless be a very difficult game for Juventus.”