Allegri calls for change in attitude ahead of Turin derby
MILAN (AP) — Juventus’ season just keeps getting worse, and coach Massimiliano Allegri is calling for a change in attitude after the four-time defending Italian champion slipped to its fourth defeat of the season midweek.
Wednesday’s 1-0 loss at Sassuolo left Juventus 12th in the Serie A table, 11 points behind current leader Roma and six points off relegation.
It is Juve’s worst start in 46 years as it had not lost four of the opening 10 rounds of a Serie A campaign since 1969.
Allegri has little time to put things right ahead of Saturday’s derby match against Torino and is implementing a training retreat, with the players living and working together from Thursday, in the build-up to the match.
“I’m very disappointed with the way we approached the match,” Allegri said after the Sassuolo defeat. “There’s absolutely no excuse for it, we must grow quickly and take responsibility. We are Juventus, our attitude on the pitch needs to be different. ... Everyone needs to take the blame and I’m the first to hold my hands up. We must do better.”
Juve’s miserable start to the season has been put down to the departure of key players in Arturo Vidal, Carlos Tevez and Andrea Pirlo as well as injury problems.
Captain and club icon Gianluigi Buffon, who said it “hurts his soul” to see Juventus play like this, disagrees.
“It’s true that we’ve undergone several changes over the summer, but this argument loses currency when almost everyone is available and we’ve come here on the back of three clean sheets,” he said. “I believe that we have a squad made up of 22-23 very good players who can fill in for one another, but we were all at fault tonight.”
Saturday also sees a top-of-the-table clash with Roma visiting Inter Milan, which is two points below the capital side in the table.
Napoli and Fiorentina are above Inter on goal difference, and they play Genoa and Frosinone respectively on Sunday.
New Bologna coach Roberto Donadoni’s first match in charge since replacing Delio Rossi is at home to Atalanta, while the other two sides in the relegation zone play each other, with Carpi hosting Hellas Verona.
Also on Sunday, Sassuolo visits Udinese and Lazio welcomes AC Milan, while Chievo Verona and Palermo entertain Sampdoria and Empoli on Monday.
Here are some things to know about this weekend’s Italian league matches:
After finishing runner-up to Juventus the previous two year, there is a sense that this could be the season Roma beats the Old Lady.
Roma eased past Udinese 3-1 on Wednesday for its fifth consecutive league win.
Next up is a tricky match at Inter, but coach Rudi Garcia dismissed talk of it being a title decider.
“It’s an exciting match, as the Champions League match against Bayer Leverkusen will be exciting,” he said. “The best thing to do now is to continue on our path, and not look at others. Our aim is to fight to the end to stay at the top. We’re all dreaming on winning a trophy, but we’re not talking about that for the moment.”
Inter had struggled since seeing its perfect start to the season end in a 4-1 loss at home to Fiorentina, drawing its next three matches before winning 1-0 at Bologna on Tuesday.
Roberto Mancini will be hoping that victory has it back on track, but it still needs to find a way of scoring more goals.
All six of Inter’s league wins this season have been by one-goal margins — five of them 1-0 successes. The last time it won by more than one goal was April 11 — a 3-0 win at Hellas Verona.
Napoli is on a run of five successive league wins but coach Maurizio Sarri is refusing to listen to title talk.
“They have a tendency for extremes in Naples, positive as well as negative,” he said. “We are only halfway through the first half of the season, it’s absurd to have these discussions now.”
Napoli, which is unbeaten since August, has won nine of its last 10 matches in all competition — scoring 27 goals as Gonzalo Higuain is in the form of his life.
The Argentina forward has netted eight times in his last nine appearances for Napoli, taking him to 10 for the season so far.
Moreover, Napoli has conceded just three goals in that period as Sarri — who replaced Rafa Benitez in the offseason — has improved what was at times a leaky defense.
Napoli had the worst defensive record out of the top 10 finishers last campaign, but only Inter has conceded fewer goals than Sarri’s side.