Allegri positive as Juve prepares for Lazio

AFP

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Juve head coach Allegri takes his side to Lazio on Sunday (AEDT) for what already feels like a highly important game in the context of the season.

Defeats to Sassuolo and Hellas Verona in late October look to have almost scrubbed Juve out of the title frame, and it sits eighth heading into the weekend, already 14 points behind Napoli and AC Milan. It will take a sharp upturn for it to trouble the early pace-setters.

Lazio is three points better off than Juventus, too, and its boss is former Juve head coach Maurizio Sarri, the man who was given the flick by the Turin giant in August 2020 after just one season.

Sarri won the Serie A title in that campaign, but a lack of European success cost him his job. His successor, Andrea Pirlo, delivered neither, which is why Allegri was summoned to return to the top job, having won five league championships in his previous stint at the Old Lady.

Italy is consumed by the travails of the Azzurri, with Roberto Mancini's team falling to Earth with a bump after its UEFA Euro 2020 success as it failed to earn automatic qualification for the FIFA World Cup, with Jorginho's costly missed penalty against Switzerland followed by a goalless draw with Northern Ireland.

It still has a play-off to fall back on, so may well still feature at Qatar 2022, and Allegri spoke about Italy while addressing the focus on putting points on the board.

"Football is good because you can have opinions, you can talk, but in the end it all boils down to the results," he said.

"For a missed penalty, they've been massacring them for a week now. We need balance, there are unforeseen events that must be managed, and I believe that in the end they will go to the [FIFA] World Cup."

Allegri is waiting to learn whether Paulo Dybala is available for the trip to Rome, with the Argentinean keen to be involved after international duty. Allegri described the forward's calf as "problematic" but did not rule him out.

"It's a nice challenge, two teams that are floating on the edge of fourth place," Allegri said. "It will be a difficult match."

A sketchy 1-0 victory over Fiorentina, secured by Juan Cuadrado's stoppage-time goal after the visitors were reduced to 10 men, sent Juventus into the international break with a win.

"Right now, here you just have to do and not think. We are behind in the standings, talking is of no use at all," Allegri added.

"We just have to think about what to do to try slowly to improve in the attacking and defensive phases, as well as in the standings."

Juve has lost only two of its past 33 Serie A games against Lazio, both since 2017 (won 24, drawn 7).

Lazio has conceded at least once in its past 16 Serie A home games against the Bianconceri, its longest streak without a clean sheet at home against a single opponent in the top flight.

Sarri has previously spoken of his difficulty in bringing new elements to Juventus's play during his short tenure, but Allegri feels the current crop is malleable enough.

"Maurizio is an excellent coach and here he won a championship," Allegri said. "You'd have to ask him, he said it and not me. For me the teams are all trainable, it depends on the players you have."


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