Maurizio Sarri has challenged his Juventus side to fight against the Champions League hangovers that threaten to derail their bid for a ninth consecutive Serie A title.

Juve have dropped points in four of their 15 league games this season, two of which came immediately after midweek Champions League fixtures.

They drew 1-1 with Lecce in October following a win over Lokomotiv Moscow and were held to a shock 2-2 home draw by Sassuolo this month after beating Atletico Madrid, before losing 3-1 to Lazio a week later.

Those results have left them trailing leaders Inter by two points and Sarri has demanded they do not suffer a similar fate against Udinese on Sunday after the 2-0 win over Bayer Leverkusen that concluded their Group D campaign in midweek.

"The risks of dropping the intensity levels and dropping points after Champions League games is visible in the statistics," he told a media conference. "You can't argue when it happens two or three times.

"We've got to find out why it keeps happening and fix it. There are differences playing in Serie A to the Champions League, but it's not true to say the European opponents are more open. Bayer Leverkusen focus mainly on possession, while Lokomotiv Moscow tend to clam up.

"Perhaps subconsciously our minds can drift to other targets after so many Scudetto titles in a row, but that is something we must absolutely fight against. If we are to be competitive in the Champions League, we need to be competitive in Italy, too."

Udinese are led by caretaker coach Luca Gotti, who was part of Sarri's staff at Chelsea last season.

They have failed to win any of their past four Serie A games, but Sarri is expecting a tough match at the Allianz Stadium.

"Gotti is very talented," he said. "Udinese can transform any long ball into a scoring opportunity, so we've got to be wary of that.

"They are a dangerous team that knows how to close down well and make the game tight. They have strikers who work well and can be dangerous in different circumstances."

Midfielders Adrien Rabiot and Emre Can have struggled for game time this season, with the pair starting only five times between them in Serie A, while Can was omitted from the Champions League squad for the group stage.

Sarri says both can expect to feature against Udinese and has suggested Rabiot – a free transfer following his departure from Paris Saint-Germain during the off-season – has not yet adjusted to life at the club.

"He has struggled to settle into our football, but that is normal," he explained. "He also came off an injury and struggled more in the first half in Germany [against Leverkusen], but he came out towards the end. He is also quite introverted, which doesn't help him to settle.

"Can was immensely disappointed [at being left out of the Champions League squad]. Either Can or Rabiot will certainly play and both of them may well be on the pitch for a portion of the game."

Juventus head coach Maurizio Sarri would welcome a Champions League last-16 tie with Tottenham so that he can face off against "extraordinary" Jose Mourinho.

The Italian champions eased into the knockout stages with five wins and a draw in their Group D campaign, culminating in a 2-0 victory over Bayer Leverkusen on Wednesday.

Tottenham suffered a 3-1 loss at Bayern Munich in their final Group B match, meanwhile, but they were already assured of second place behind the German giants in Group B.

Juve and Tottenham could meet in the next round, with Chelsea, Borussia Dortmund, Lyon and Real Madrid other possible opponents for Juventus.

Mourinho claimed teams will be eager to avoid Tottenham, but Sarri is open to a reunion with the Portuguese, whom he previously faced off against during his time in the Premier League.

"I have had the honour of getting to know [Mourinho] and I hold him in high regard," former Chelsea boss Sarri said at his post-match news conference.

"He is an extraordinary person that is very different from the perception that the outside world has of him.

"It was a real pleasure to get to know him. Playing against him isn't easy, but seeing him again would be great."

Juventus are joined in Monday's draw by fellow group winners Paris Saint-Germain, Bayern Munich, Manchester City, Liverpool, Barcelona, RB Leipzig and Valencia.

Asked which side he considers favourites to go all the way and lift the famous trophy, Sarri replied: "Manchester City."

Juventus return to Serie A action on Sunday with a home match against Udinese.

Maurizio Sarri wants to see signs of a "change of mentality" from Juventus against Bayer Leverkusen on Wednesday.

The Bianconeri's place in the Champions League knockout stages is already clinched heading into matchday six, with Sarri's team guaranteed top spot in Group D.

Juve have won four and drawn one in Europe so far, continuing Sarri's impressive personal run in continental competition after he led Chelsea to Europa League success last season.

But his side are second in Serie A and lost for the first time this season against Lazio at the weekend, meaning Sarri sees room for improvement even in a fixture they need not win.

"We know that we have to work to do better, but we are calm," said Sarri. 

"We need a spark, but that can be many things. We've got to move the ball quickly and not defend too deep after we've taken the lead. It's important that we always try to control the game.

"These are all things that represent a change of mentality at Juventus, so they do not come automatically. We've seen them in moments, for example the first half in Rome [against Lazio]."

Sarri wants his side to demonstrate a strong mentality in their performance, even with their passage already secured as Leverkusen still hope to overhaul Atletico Madrid for second spot. 

"The first time I was contacted by the Juventus hierarchy, I asked how come they only managed three points in the final Serie A games of the season," he said. 

"I said it would be a bad sign of their mentality if they justified it with the fact the Scudetto had already been won.

"We have the privilege and the honour of playing in the Champions League. I expect a strong and focused performance, because there are always objectives. I ask for a performance, then the result can come or not."

Juan Cuadrado was wrongly sent off as Juventus lost 3-1 away to Lazio in Serie A on Saturday, according to Maurizio Sarri.

The Bianconeri coach saw his side lose for the first time since his arrival despite Cristiano Ronaldo's goal putting the champions in front at the Stadio Olimpico.

Luiz Felipe headed Lazio's equaliser before the turning point of the match, Cuadrado seeing red after bringing down Manuel Lazzari as he ran through on goal.

Referee Michael Fabbri initially opted to book Cuadrado but then changed the yellow card to red after consulting pitchside monitors, and Lazio made the most of their man advantage.

Sergej Milinkovic-Savic brilliantly scored from Luis Alberto's lofted pass, and Felipe Caicedo struck deep in added time to secure Lazio's first home league win over Juve since 2003.

"We didn't respect our duties, because players were in the wrong position," Sarri told DAZN of the incident leading to Cuadrado's dismissal. "It was a distraction and you pay for that.

"We had decided before the game on certain positions and we didn't cover them.

"I do not entirely agree that it was a clear scoring opportunity, as the ball was going wide. I thought a yellow card was the right ruling, but the fact remains that is out of our control and we made a mistake to create the situation."

Sarri, who said Rodrigo Bentancur needs tests on a ligament injury, felt there were positives to take from Juve's performance despite a second straight league game without a win.

"In the second half, when the game seemed to be in a more balanced state, the red card changed everything," he said. "We lost the match, but, to be honest, I saw improvements in my team."

Lazio have won seven games in a row in Serie A and are only five points behind leaders Inter, prompting suggestions they could be in the title race.

They last won the league 20 years ago, and coach Simone Inzaghi feels topping the table may be a realistic target for his impressive side.

"We are in a great period of form," he told DAZN. "We should be ambitious, knowing also that six weeks ago people said we weren't getting results but I remained calm.

"The club was always close to me, even when we lost, reassuring me there were no problems.

"I also have a squad that is always at the disposal of my staff and I. Now we enjoy this victory, which we hadn't managed for 16 years here, a game I remember, because I was on the bench.

"We enjoy it for a few hours, but from Thursday we must get right back on track and aim to stay in the Europa League. We played well, created many chances and could have scored more goals, so I praise these lads for something extraordinary."

Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and Felipe Caicedo netted as Lazio came from behind to shock Juventus 3-1 at home and inflict Maurizio Sarri's first defeat as Bianconeri coach.

Juve, held 2-2 at Sassuolo last time out, took the lead through Cristiano Ronaldo but were pegged back before the break by Luiz Felipe's header in a gripping Serie A encounter.

Juan Cuadrado's red card opened the door for Lazio and they charged through it, Luis Alberto setting up Milinkovic-Savic for a superb strike to edge in front.

There was time for more drama, though, Juve goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny saving Ciro Immobile's penalty, and Caicedo added a third deep in added time to leave Inter two points clear at the top.

Maurizio Sarri reiterated Juventus cannot play with three forwards as he expressed confidence in his side's ability to bounce back from a disappointing draw with Sassuolo.

Sarri has faced consistent questions this season over the possibility of using Cristiano Ronaldo, Paulo Dybala and Gonzalo Higuain in a front three.

Dybala was left on the bench last Sunday as Ronaldo and Higuain started up front in a gripping 2-2 game that saw Juventus surrender top spot in Serie A to Inter.

Third-placed Lazio, who are seven points off the top, are the opposition on Saturday as Juve make the trip to the Stadio Olimpico.

There is unlikely to be a Juve attacking triumvirate on show in the capital, however, with coach Sarri insisting it is not possible to play all three together at present.

"Right now, playing three forwards is difficult due to the characteristics of the players," he told a media conference.

"You can't prohibit Dybala from dropping deep, and at the same time Cristiano's characteristics are not to play too central. We must take some precautions to fill the penalty area more.

"It's normal that after Champions League games there's a drop in energy, mentality and confidence, but from what I've seen in training I'm confident. As always, we have to respond on the pitch, getting three points is always important regardless of the game.

"It will be an important matchday for the teams high up in the table, I hope that our motivations are high.

"Lazio are a strong team with great quality. They are the best in Italy and among the best in Europe for getting into the last 25 metres. We need to keep them away from our area because they are very dangerous.

"Based on the average amount of points that they are picking up, Lazio have to be in the conversation for the fight for top.

"I expect a strong approach from Lazio, who will be very determined. We will have to resist it, come out and dictate the game how we want to."

Cristiano Ronaldo's next step is to rediscover his spark after proving he has improved physically in Juventus' 2-2 draw with Sassuolo, says head coach Maurizio Sarri.

The Portugal forward has been struggling with a knee problem, which saw him miss last weekend's contest with Atalanta before he was restored to face Atletico Madrid in the Champions League.

Prior to the international break, Ronaldo had been hauled off in wins over Lokomotiv Moscow and Milan despite Juve having been level at the time of his withdrawal.

Ronaldo netted a 68th-minute penalty at Allianz Stadium to earn a point against Sassuolo on Sunday, though, and Sarri was encouraged by what he saw.

"The feeling is that he has regained strength," Sarri told DAZN. "He is doing better in the final [moments].

"The next step will be to recover the brilliance."

Prior to Ronaldo's intervention, Juve appeared destined to pay the price for a lacklustre showing that saw Leonardo Bonucci's opener cancelled out as Sassuolo scored through Jeremie Boga and Francesco Caputo.

The second of those was a tame effort that squirmed through veteran goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon after a rash clearance from Matthijs de Ligt.

"It was an incredible series of mistakes, from a bad back-pass to another that hit a Sassuolo player," Sarri added.

"When you aren't fully focused, a howler can happen."

Sassuolo were playing with teenage debutant Stefano Turati in goal and the 18-year-old put on a fine display in Turin.

After the game, Turati explained he had an important phone call to make.

"I honestly don't have the words! So many emotions, it all happened so quickly and I never expected this. It was an extraordinary sensation and an incredible day for me," he said.

"The save on Ronaldo was the most important for the game, with that free-kick, but the breakthrough for me was early on to stop their counter-attack.

"It was an honour to play against Gigi Buffon, as I used to watch him when I was growing up. I am so happy and shocked that I don’t even know what to say. The first thing I have to do now is call my mum!"

Maurizio Sarri hopes Juventus striker Cristiano Ronaldo wins his sixth Ballon d'Or, and he also tipped team-mate Paulo Dybala to be recognised as the world's best player in the future.

Ronaldo is up against fellow five-time winner Lionel Messi and Liverpool defender Virgil Van Dijk in the running for this year's gong, while Juve defender Matthijs de Ligt is in contention to win the Kopa Trophy awarded to the best performing player under the age of 21.

After watching Ronaldo overcoming a persistent knee injury to play a full 90 minutes in Juve's 1-0 win over Atletico Madrid on Tuesday, Sarri said he was impressed with the 34-year-old's recovery.

"Cristiano did well in the last game, even with some resistance," Sarri told reporters. "Now he just has to grow in terms of brilliance.

"I hope that Cristiano wins the Ballon d'Or, de Ligt the Kopa Trophy and that Dybala will one day be a future Ballon d’Or contender."

Serie A leaders Juventus play 14th-placed Sassuolo on Sunday, and Sarri said his deliberation over selecting two from Ronaldo, Gonzalo Higuain and Dybala to play in attack is a welcome problem.

But the former Napoli and Chelsea coach warned his players against complacency as they go in search of a fifth consecutive Serie A victory, having beaten Atalanta 3-1 prior to the win over Atletico.

"Tomorrow's game is very dangerous," Sarri said of the Sassuolo clash. "We come into this fixture after two games that took away a lot of our mental energy.

"In addition, Sassuolo is a team that has done well, even on the road, and they have a young and strong coach who I respect a lot.

"Do I get a headache choosing who to play in attack? If anything, the opposition gets the headache.

"Emre Can may be an option for tomorrow. Alex Sandro took part in the full training session with the team yesterday. We need to see if he can play 90 minutes. 

"[Federico] Bernardeschi is doing well, he is a useful player to the team, who has great technical qualities, so we ask him to give more."

"What the f*** are you shooting from over there?" was Maurizio Sarri's reaction to Paulo Dybala's memorable free-kick for Juventus in the Champions League.

Dybala scored a stunning set-piece against Atletico Madrid as Juve secured top spot in Group D with Tuesday's 1-0 victory in Turin.

From an acute angle on the right side of the penalty box, Dybala somehow beat Atletico goalkeeper Jan Oblak in first-half stoppage time.

Speaking to reporters post-game, Juve head coach Sarri said: "Dybala scored a goal that nobody could have advised him to do.

"The first thing that a coach says in that situation is: 'What the f*** are you shooting from over there?' And therefore what he did was extraordinary.

"The applause was owed to him, for the performance but also for the technical skill which was extraordinary."

While Dybala was the hero again for Juve, it was another frustrating night for superstar Cristiano Ronaldo.

Having missed last week's victory away to Atalanta due to his troublesome knee, Ronaldo returned to the line-up but he appeared to struggle against Atletico.

Asked if Ronaldo is cut off from the game due to the team's style of play, Sarri told reporters: "No, there was no problem with Ronaldo.

"The problem was the way we were occupying spaces. In the first half Paulo was often playing far away from the goal, Cristiano was not playing in the centre and therefore we were never occupying the central spaces. We could have done this more with one of the two alternatively, when Paulo was going for the ball Cristiano could have played more in the centre and when Cristiano was out Dybala could have gone less for the ball.

"Otherwise we could have exploited that space with [Aaron] Ramsey, therefore we had some problem occupying spaces, rather than because we were cutting off players from the game."

Cristiano Ronaldo continues to be troubled by knee pain, with Juventus head coach Maurizio Sarri to discuss the injury with his star forward.

Ronaldo returned to the Juve side for Tuesday's 1-0 Champions League win at home to Atletico Madrid after missing a weekend victory away to Atalanta in Serie A.

The Portugal international appeared to struggle at times as Paulo Dybala's stunning free-kick ensured the Bianconeri will finish top of Group D with a game to spare.

Ronaldo was substituted in each of Juve's two league games prior to the international break, and Sarri accepts the 34-year-old's fitness must be managed.

"I haven't spoken to him yet about the pain in his knee," Sarri told Sky Sport Italia after Ronaldo completed the full 90 minutes. 

"But he looked to be in good shape, as in the final stages he was tracking back, fighting hard and helping out in defence.

"Dybala is world class, in a very positive period of form, so right now he is making the difference."

Though Juve maintained their momentum with another victory, Sarri was left frustrated with aspects of their performance against Atletico.

"We used up a lot of energy this evening, as is inevitable in the Champions League," he added. 

"I think we did very well but, like the Atalanta match at the weekend, we had to fight very hard to achieve the victory.

"It was above all a great first half, and we built on that. We tend to struggle more in Serie A to pass it around quickly.

"Perhaps there is more motivation for us in the Champions League, but that is a mistake, because we have to play this style of football in every tournament.

"I was angry in the second half, as we gave the ball away cheaply. The sensation was that, just like Atalanta, we allowed them to cross too much.

"Maybe we need to improve the intensity with which we close down these crosses and passes in wide areas."

Paulo Dybala scored a wonderful free-kick to earn Juventus a 1-0 home win over Atletico Madrid that secured top spot in Group D of the Champions League.

Atletico, knocked out by Juve last season, had the better of the first half but moments before the interval Dybala whipped a superb set-piece in from a narrow angle to open the scoring.

Although Joao Felix's introduction from the bench improved Atletico, it was Juve substitute Federico Bernardeschi who went closest to the game's second goal when he hit the post on Tuesday.

Juve, who welcomed back Cristiano Ronaldo, were already through but with 13 points Maurizio Sarri's side now cannot be caught at the summit with Atletico needing a win when the group stage ends next month.

Dybala had an early effort saved by Jan Oblak but Atletico had the better of the opening exchanges with Thomas Partey and Saul Niguez failing to hit the target with decent chances.

Wojciech Szczesny then briefly spilled Saul's shot only for the goalkeeper to beat Alvaro Morata to the loose ball, however Juve took the lead on the stroke of half-time.

From close to the touchline on the right side of the penalty box, Dybala whipped a superb strike past the wall and across Oblak into the roof of the net.

Joao Felix's arrival from the bench breathed new life into Atletico's attack however Juve went close to adding a second when Bernardeschi's low shot from 20 yards beat Oblak but not the upright.

A difficult day almost got worse for Atletico when Felipe's challenge on Ronaldo was checked by VAR, the defender avoiding a red card after appearing to stamp on the Portugal superstar.

Atletico should have snatched a draw deep in added time when Morata failed to convert Thomas Lemar's low cross, though replays suggested the striker was offside anyway.


What does it mean? Atletico have work to do

Juve were already through but have theoretically secured an easier tie in the next round, with Atletico still expected to join them.

They will need to win away to Lokomotiv Moscow, who are already confirmed as finishing bottom of the group, if they are to progress in the competition.


Dybala hot streak continues

Few players would have had the imagination to shoot from the position Dybala fired home a wonderful free-kick, the 10th time he has scored from a set piece for Juve.

The Argentina attacker has found the net three games in a row for Juve and is growing in confidence.


Morata offers little threat

Diego Costa's neck injury means Morata will have to lead the line for Atletico in the coming weeks, but the Spain striker struggled to make an impact against a rugged Juve backline led by the excellent Leonardo Bonucci.


What's next?

Sassuolo visit Juve in Serie A on Sunday, with Atletico hosting Barcelona in a huge LaLiga clash on the same day. The final round of Group D games on December 11 sees Juve go to Bayer Leverkusen, while Atletico are at home to Lokomotiv.

Cristiano Ronaldo has been named in the Juventus team to face Atletico Madrid on Tuesday.

Ronaldo was absent from the weekend win at Atalanta in Serie A due to injury but will partner Paulo Dybala in attack, with Gonzalo Higuain left on the bench. 

The Portugal star had been substituted in successive league games prior to the international break, prompting rumours of a rift with Juve coach Maurizio Sarri.

Both men denied the speculation and Ronaldo has returned to the Juve side for the Group D game despite, with his team having already sealed a place in the next round.

Matthias de Ligt will also start in defence after Sarri suggested the Netherlands international would need to be assessed ahead of the game.

Joao Felix is only on the bench for Atletico as he continues to recover from an ankle injury, with Vitolo instead partnering Alvaro Morata in attack for Diego Simeone's side.

Cristiano Ronaldo has been named in the Juventus squad for Tuesday's Champions League home game against Atletico Madrid.

Ronaldo was a doubt for the Group D clash in Turin after missing Juve's win away to Atalanta in Serie A at the weekend.

But the Portugal superstar has been included in an initial 20-man squad, with Matthijs de Ligt and Federico Bernardeschi also making the list after head coach Maurizio Sarri suggested they needed to be evaluated for the game.

Ronaldo and Sarri have both denied there is a problem in their relationship after the attacker was substituted two league games running prior to the international break when Juve were chasing a winning goal.

Former Real Madrid forward Ronaldo has scored 2 goals against Atletico in all competitions, including four hat-tricks.

Two of those were scored in the Champions League, with a treble in March 2019 against Atletico turning the tie around for Juventus and booking a quarter-final spot.

Juve are top of Group D, three points clear of Atletico, and have already secured their place in the next round.

Cristiano Ronaldo has trained with Juventus and will be evaluated ahead of Tuesday's Champions League clash with Atletico Madrid, Maurizio Sarri has confirmed.

The Portugal striker sat out the unconvincing 3-1 win at Atalanta over the weekend as he continues to contend with a knee injury.

However, Ronaldo is seemingly in line to feature in the Group D contest against Atleti, an opponent the former Real Madrid star has scored 25 times against in his prolific career.

"Yesterday he did the training sessions with his team-mates," Sarri said. "He seems to be growing [stronger].

"We will evaluate it between today and tomorrow to see if we have solved it, but the fact that yesterday he did all the training with his team-mates is very positive.

"I think and hope there will be no repercussions."

Ronaldo's relationship with Sarri has been under the microscope in recent weeks, mainly due to the coach's decision to haul off his star forward in two straight matches when Juve were chasing a win prior to the international break.

The second of those games, a 1-0 victory over AC Milan, saw Ronaldo head straight down the tunnel and reportedly leave the stadium before the match had finished.

However, Sarri insists all is well between the duo and he has no objection to players showing frustration when being substituted.

"My relationship with Cristiano is good," he added. 

"If a player who has won so much is angry about being substituted it means he still has a lot of motivation and this is something positive.

"It is 25 years I have seen players get angry over substitutions."

Sarri, who confirmed Matthijs de Ligt and Federico Bernardeschi will also be evaluated before the game with Atleti, also explained why he does not foresee Ronaldo, Gonzalo Higuain and Paulo Dybala lining up in the same XI any time soon.

"Playing Paulo, Gonzalo and Cristiano all together is difficult because of their characteristics, but all three know how to play really well and are comfortable with each other," he said.

"We have three strong strikers for two places. None of the three can play 65 games as seen in the early part of the season. Everyone will find a place."

Juve have already qualified for the knockout phase of the Champions League but know a win over Atleti will secure top spot in Group D.

"Right now I'm seeing the team play excellently in flashes and I would like to see some more continuity in certain aspects, but we must take into account the characteristics of the players," Sarri said. 

"We certainly have room for improvement. Against Atleti we can't worry about what they are going to do. 

"They are a difficult team to face but we must think about how important first place in the group is."

Maurizio Sarri insists he had no problem with resting Cristiano Ronaldo for Juventus' Serie A clash with Atalanta, despite an unconvincing display from the Bianconeri.

Ronaldo was not risked on Saturday as he continues to deal with a knee issue, and his absence was felt for the majority of the match, until Gonzalo Higuain's double and Paulo Dybala's stoppage-time strike secured a 3-1 comeback win.

Sarri, who made headlines when he took Ronaldo off against AC Milan prior to the international break, hopes to have the former Real Madrid star fit to feature against Atletico Madrid in the Champions League on Tuesday.

However, he stated he had no issue with leaving Juve's star forward out against Atalanta.

"I hope he'll be back for the Champions League on Tuesday. He has this little problem that is above all affecting him in training, as he's struggling to train consistently," Sarri told Sky Sport Italia.

"A lot depends on how the lad feels, the fatigue and the need he has at any moment to rest. He felt, and I fully agreed, it was important right now to find a way of training that wouldn't put extra pressure on the knee.

"It's a solid knee, there are no lesions, but constantly having that pain does take it out of you.

"I was happy to rest him, as I felt the same way, that it was best to take this time to first of all rest and secondly analyse training methods to see how he could train differently."

Musa Barrow missed an early penalty for Atalanta, who deservedly went ahead thanks to Robin Gosen's 56th-minute header, though the hosts' profligacy did ultimately come back to bite them.

Sarri conceded his side were fortunate to get back into the match, but was thrilled with their self-belief once the scores were level.

"It was an entertaining game with tempo and intensity, the kind you don't usually see in Serie A," Sarri said.

"We lost our heads after the penalty, thinking of everything except the game of football and allowed Atalanta to take total control. They deservedly went in front.

"We were fortunate to score the equaliser in a chaotic move against the run of play and from there on showed belief we could win it.

"In the final minutes, we started to attack the spaces that were opening up, whereas we didn't do that enough before."

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