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."

Gonzalo Higuain scored twice in the second half as Serie A leaders Juventus produced a late fightback to secure a 3-1 win at Atalanta.

Without Cristiano Ronaldo - who was not risked for Saturday's encounter - Maurizio Sarri's side were second best for long periods in Bergamo before Higuain's brace in the space of eight minutes.

Robin Gosens had deservedly put Atalanta ahead before the hour, though Gian Piero Gasperini will rue his team missing a series of chances - including Musa Barrow's penalty - in the first half.

Their profligacy allowed Juve - who also survived a VAR check for a second potential penalty against them – to claim the points, Paulo Dybala adding a late third for the visitors in stoppage time.

Juventus striker Gonzalo Higuain is back in training ahead of Saturday's Derby della Mole showdown with Torino.

Higuain was not part of Juve's squad for Wednesday's dramatic 2-1 victory over Genoa after coming off worse in an aerial collision with Lecce goalkeeper Gabriel last weekend.

The 31-year-old received medical treatment on the field and required stitches to his head after completing the remaining minutes of the match.

However, Juve confirmed on their official website that Higuain trained with his team-mates on Thursday, meaning a possible return to action for the trip to city rivals Torino on Saturday.

Miralem Pjanic, also absent for the win against Genoa, worked separately from the group as he continues his recovery from a minor muscle injury sustained last week.

Cristiano Ronaldo scored a 96th-minute penalty to help Juventus overcome Genoa, lifting them a point above Inter at the top of Serie A.

Maurizio Sarri admitted Juventus missed the quality of Miralem Pjanic in their dramatic victory over Genoa.

Juve were without the injured midfielder and striker Gonzalo Higuain for Wednesday's Serie A clash at Allianz Stadium, which they edged 2-1 through a 96th-minute penalty from Cristiano Ronaldo.

The Italian champions were held 1-1 by Lecce last weekend and were heading for another draw after Christian Kouame cancelled out Leonardo Bonucci's opener.

But sluggish Juventus found a last-gasp winner after Ronaldo won and scored a penalty in a game that ended with both sides reduced to 10 men.

Victory lifted Juve a point above Inter at the top of the table and Sarri was pleased that his side found a solution in the absence of some key men.

"We are speaking about players who are unavailable," he said at his post-match news conference. "We need to focus on those who can play. 

"We played with [Paulo] Dybala and Ronaldo and [Federico] Bernardeschi behind them. Then with Douglas Costa and two very offensive midfielders. 

"We missed Pjanic's quality, of course, and his rhythm, because he moves the ball fast and our play gets faster. 

"Gonzalo is a player that in the last 40 minutes of the game is always in the box more than the strikers we had today. But we had solutions."

Pjanic picked up a knock against Lecce but avoided any serious damage, meaning he could be back in contention for Saturday's Derby della Mole against Torino.

Douglas Costa and Aaron Ramsey also returned from lay-offs as second-half substitutes in midweek, but Sarri is being cautious over their fitness.

"Ramsey is not completely fit and Douglas only trained twice," the Italian said. "Both are not ready for the 90 minutes. 

"I was worried about Ramsey today, but he reacted well until the end. Anyway, I don't think we need to think about who is missing."

Cristiano Ronaldo has returned to Juventus' squad for their Serie A clash with Genoa, but Gonzalo Higuain and Miralem Pjanic miss out through injury.

Portugal superstar Ronaldo was rested for Juve's trip to Lecce on Saturday, a decision that backfired as the Italian champions were held to a 1-1 draw.

Head coach Maurizio Sarri defended his decision to overlook Ronaldo for selection but has recalled the 34-year-old for Wednesday's home match against Genoa.

However, there is no place in the 22-man squad for Higuain, who came off worse in an aerial collision with Lecce goalkeeper Gabriel late in the match.

Pjanic has featured in every competitive game for Juve this campaign, meanwhile, but will miss out against Genoa after pulling up last time out, though the club have confirmed he did not suffer any muscular damage.

Aaron Ramsey is back after missing Juve's last three squads with a muscle injury, while Douglas Costa is also in contention following a seven-week absence.

Sarri's side trail Serie A leaders Inter by two points ahead of Wednesday's game in hand at Allianz Stadium.

Juventus have confirmed Miralem Pjanic did not suffer a muscle injury in Saturday's 1-1 draw with Lecce.

Playmaker Pjanic – who has featured in every competitive game for Juve this season – pulled up sharply and left the field gingerly 67 minutes into the clash at Stadio Via del Mare.

Examinations on Monday did not show any muscular damage for the Bosnia-Herzegovina international, with the club confirming the 29-year-old took part in a personalised session in the gym.

Gonzalo Higuain also undertook a gym session after requiring a stretcher at full-time of Saturday's game.

Higuain came off worse in an aerial collision with goalkeeper Gabriel but played on, with Sarri confirming the striker was conscious and lucid despite having to be carried from the pitch after the final whistle.

Douglas Costa – who has not played since the 0-0 draw with Fiorentina on September 14 – took part in full training, while Aaron Ramsey participated in in a section of the session after missing out on the past three matchday squads.

Juventus are back in Serie A action on Wednesday when Genoa travel to the Allianz Stadium.

Maurizio Sarri confirmed Gonzalo Higuain was conscious and lucid after a blow to the head left the Juventus striker needing a stretcher at full-time in a 1-1 draw with Lecce.

Higuain came off worse in an aerial collision with goalkeeper Gabriel late in Saturday's entertaining Serie A match at Stadio Via del Mare.

Medical staff applied bandages to the Argentinian's bloodied head and he completed the match as normal, unleashing multiple shots as the visitors attempted to reclaim the lead.

His condition reportedly worsened after the final whistle and he had to be carried from the pitch.

"Gonzalo is having stitches, then they will decide whether to take him to the hospital," Sarri said in a post-match interview with Sky Sport Italia.

"He is conscious and responding clearly. I think he will come back with us [to Turin]."

Juve earlier lost Miralem Pjanic to a muscle problem on a costly day.

Sarri's decision to rest Cristiano Ronaldo from the matchday squad backfired badly as the Bianconeri wasted numerous chances either side of Paulo Dybala's 50th-minute penalty.

Matthijs de Ligt's inadvertent handball allowed Marco Mancosu to equalise from the spot six minutes later and Lecce held firm under pressure to register their first home point of the season.

Sarri said: "Ronaldo was tired physically and mentally. Bringing him here would not have allowed him to recover.

"When a player becomes fatigued, then it's right to let him rest. It was something he also felt. The fact remains we produced 10 scoring opportunities and didn't finish them."

The draw marked the second time Juve have dropped points under Sarri in Serie A, the champions having settled for a stalemate against Fiorentina in September.

Match-winner Gonzalo Higuain understands why Maurizio Sarri dropped him for Sunday's crucial Serie A clash with Inter and is glad to have made a telling impact from the bench in Juventus' 2-1 victory.

The 31-year-old was brought on just after the hour at San Siro after losing his place in the starting line-up to Paulo Dybala, who justified his selection for the top-of-the-table showdown by brilliantly opening the scoring in the fourth minute.

Lautaro Martinez levelled up from the penalty spot but Higuain proved to be the hero for Juve as he fired a low finish past Samir Handanovic to snatch three vital points late on.

Asked how he felt about being overlooked for a starting spot, Higuain told Sky Sport Italia: "The coach makes his decisions. Paulo had been doing well recently, so it was understandable. 

"All I can do is be ready to help the team when I come on and fortunately I managed it."

Juventus leapfrogged their opponents into top spot after ending the erstwhile leaders' perfect start under Antonio Conte.

"It was a great game from us," Higuain said. "Inter were the most solid side in the league, they had won six out of six.

"We played with great character and determination. I am glad we took it home.

"This is a great start to the season, but it’s still early and we want to fight on all fronts."

Inter enter the two-week break on the back of successive defeats, Conte's men having let slip a one-goal lead to lose 2-1 against Barcelona in the Champions League on Wednesday.

Centre-back Milan Skriniar played a full part in both matches and admits there are improvements to be made.

"It has been a mixed week because we played not badly in Barcelona and here tonight too," he said. "We kept the ball and created chances, but were unable to score the goals.

"Juve are a strong side, we all knew that. We have a lot to improve and that's the beauty of it - we are constantly learning and developing.

"I think we need to be more aggressive in our defending around the penalty area, as Barcelona were very dangerous there too with their passes. We need to get closer to the forwards."

The serial winner looking to topple the dynasty he established versus the idealist who must show he can string together results as he does cigarettes. No two men could ever be bigger than Inter versus Juventus, but Antonio Conte, Maurizio Sarri and their sharply contrasting ideologies loomed large over the latest instalment of this historic clash.

Inter's 100 per cent start in Serie A and Juve's comparatively tentative first steps under Sarri – alongside the respective esteem in which each coach was held while at Chelsea – meant the script felt somewhat set as the teams emerged at an expectant San Siro.

Juventus' flying start suggested otherwise, as they followed Sarri's way line by line and to the syllable.

Inter answered in kind – Diego Godin splattering his old Madrid derby foe Cristiano Ronaldo on the turf in a case of Sarrismo meeting machismo – but insufficiently, as Miralem Pjanic's immaculate pass carved enough space for Paulo Dybala to lash a shot through Samir Handanovic's hands.

Ronaldo was alternately playing to the gallery and the gameplan, and the deft footwork that ended with him planting an effort against the crossbar cut an uncomfortable contrast with the hosts' most convincing early foray, when Romelu Lukaku ploughed towards Leonardo Bonucci in a straight line and was dispossessed.

Wojciech Szczesny passing a ball out for a throw-in near his own byline in the 13th minute showed a Bianconeri still coming to terms with Sarri's preferred means of building play. Alex Sandro was booked for trying to delay the restart and Inter seized on momentary uncertainty to apply judicious pressure.

It was typical of a Conte team, clinically sensing their moment. His wing-backs pushed on, Matthijs de Ligt headed a Danilo D'Ambrosio delivery away under pressure, but erred the next time he was called upon by Nicolo Barella at the near post.

Lautaro Martinez made himself enough of a nuisance for De Ligt to handball. Up stepped the Argentina striker to make it 1-1. By the time he got the better of Bonucci to test Szczesny in the 28th minute, Inter were in the ascendancy.

Juve needed to settle back into their work, with some lovely touches from Pjanic, Sami Khedira and Ronaldo played out before an uncompromising and unmoving back five.

Makeshift full-back Juan Cuadrado started their next attack with an audacious pass around Martinez near his own goal-line. Conte's men stood off and Sarri's side were rewarded for trusting their method.

The Bianconeri were back on the front foot and another delicious Pjanic pass met a Dybala lay-off. Ronaldo finished and tore off inimitably, only for VAR to fractionally and cruelly rule against his strike partner.

A touchline skirmish at the interval – "brawl" would be overstating the case – seemed to be instigated by Inter, although De Ligt's crunching challenge on Martinez early in the second half showed Juve were not here to be pushed around while they looked pretty.

Following Pjanic's prompting it was Khedria's turn, in a midfield alliance that sometimes purred like the Jorginho and Allan pairing under Sarri at Napoli, to unpick Inter. Dybala was onside this time, but Handanovic was out sharply.

For all that, the visitors had not managed to shake the Nerazzurri and a live Conte team is a dangerous one. Lukaku was enduring one of his clumsier outings but drove at De Ligt to force an inch-perfect challenge in the area before tumbling under Bonucci's attentions and appealing in vain for a penalty.

De Ligt's mixed showing continued when he turned his back on a drive from substitute Matias Vecino, deflecting it against the post with Szczesny rooted.

Inter were again rumbling their way on top, but Sarri showed there was room for pragmatism within the high-spec masterplan. On came Emre Can for Dybala to add some midfield ballast before his other two replacements – Rodrigo Bentancur and Gonzalo Higuain – combined to send Juventus back to the top of the table.

Like Sarri, Higuain was a hero in Naples and derided at Stamford Bridge. There could be no more fitting matchwinner on a night Sarri faced down the doubters and gave the most compelling demonstration yet that his widescreen vision can be a winning one.

Gonzalo Higuain sent Juventus top of Serie A - and handed Antonio Conte his first league defeat as Inter boss - as the reigning champions secured a 2-1 victory at San Siro.

Higuain started on the bench but the experienced striker once more came up with the goods for Maurizio Sarri, who he has played under at Napoli and Chelsea, guiding home the winner 10 minutes from time.

Paulo Dybala was deployed in the first XI at his compatriot's expense and took just four minutes to break the Derby d'Italia deadlock, but Lautaro Martinez equalised from the penalty spot after a handball by Matthijs de Ligt.

Although Inter rattled the post through a deflected Matias Vecino shot, a sweeping Juve move ended with Rodrigo Bentancur teeing up fellow replacement Higuain to ensure the Bianconeri remain the only unbeaten side in Italy's top tier.

Cristiano Ronaldo is fit to face SPAL after an adductor injury and could be played in tandem with Gonzalo Higuain and Paulo Dybala, according to coach Maurizio Sarri.

Ronaldo missed Tuesday's slender 2-1 win at Brescia due to the injury, having scored the winner from the spot three days earlier against Hellas Verona.

Higuain and Dybala led the line in Ronaldo's absence, and Sarri could resist dropping one of them in order to fit last season's top-scorer back into the starting XI.

He sees no problem in playing all three together, with Juve yet to win by more than one goal across all competitions this term.

"Yes, Ronaldo can play and he can coexist with Higuain and Dybala," Sarri told reporters at his pre-match news conference.

"Higuain is a guy with great technical skill, Dybala is technically super fine and Ronaldo is a champion.

"I think they can therefore coexist in pairs and in certain phases of the game even in a three."

Adrien Rabiot made his first start for Juve in the win over Brescia and Sarri's post-match comments were interpreted as criticism by some, with the coach suggesting he expects more from the Frenchman.

But Sarri insists he was not being critical of the 24-year-old, rather realistic having not featured in a competitive match since December last year.

When asked if he was unsatisfied by Rabiot's display, Sarri hit back: "I didn't say that.

"Surely he can do much more. In 2019, Rabiot has never played, so we need to be patient without expecting everything right away.

"He has good qualities, even in physical terms. He has good strength and is technically strong. He must be supported and must get used to our football."

Gonzalo Higuain said star Juventus team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo has matured since the pair's time together at Real Madrid.

Juve striker Higuain and Ronaldo have reunited in Turin after the duo won three titles with LaLiga giants Madrid before the former departed for Napoli in 2013.

Higuain eventually joined Juventus in 2016, while Ronaldo arrived in 2018-19, prompting his ex-Madrid team-mate to move to Serie A rivals AC Milan on loan and then Chelsea last term.

Higuain and Ronaldo – who won the Scudetto in his first season – are now together again under Juventus head coach Maurizio Sarri, and the former Argentina international hailed the five-time Ballon d'Or winner.

"We had already played together with Real," Higuain, who has impressed for the Serie A champions this season, told Fox Sports.

"Many years have passed, and I have found another player, a more mature person, with a family.

"I enjoyed playing alongside him before and I am glad that we are back together."

Higuain is contracted to Juve until 2021 and he did not rule out a return to Argentine giants River Plate.

The 31-year-old made a name for himself at River, emerging from the youth team in 2005 and scoring 15 goals in total before being lured to the Santiago Bernabeu by Madrid in 2007.

"I have this year and next year left [at Juventus]," Higuain added. "I never close the door to anything.

"[At River] there is a great coach and several team-mates of mine who I have a great affection for.

"The people of River were always spectacular with me. But hey, right now I'm trying to think in the present and enjoy my time here in Italian football."

Cristiano Ronaldo will not feature for Juventus against Brescia on Tuesday after the forward was left out of a 20-man squad for the Serie A fixture.

The Portugal international will miss the midweek trip to Stadio Mario Rigamonti due to "slight fatigue in the adductor", according to the club, having played three times in the space of eight days.

Ronaldo was on the field for every minute of the league games against Fiorentina and Hellas Verona, with a 2-2 Champions League draw away at Atletico Madrid sandwiched in between.

 

While Giorgio Chiellini, Mattia De Sciglio and Douglas Costa all remain sidelined, Gonzalo Higuain is included in the squad list.

The striker suffered a facial injury following his second-half introduction during the 2-1 triumph over Verona on Saturday, though he did not break any bones in his nose and could feature in the clash with Brescia.

Juventus have posted three wins and a draw in four Serie A outings so far this season, leaving them two points behind leaders Inter in the table.

Gonzalo Higuain says he is determined to prove his worth to Juventus after being handed another chance at the club.

Higuain, 31, struggled to make an impact during loan spells at AC Milan and Chelsea during the 2018-19 campaign.

Chelsea opted against triggering a purchase option in Higuain's loan and he therefore returned to Serie A and reunited with new Juve head coach Maurizio Sarri.

He was not expected to be given opportunities to start, with Juve boasting forward options including Cristiano Ronaldo, Paulo Dybala and Mario Mandzukic.

However, Higuain has started both Serie A games this term, while he scored a brilliant goal as Juve beat his old club Napoli - where he thrived under Sarri - before the international break.

"I am here to prove my worth," Higuain said on Thursday ahead of this weekend's trip to Fiorentina.

"I wanted to stay from the first day I returned. I am happy to be at Juve, at a big club with a great team and a big fanbase, in a city that I know.

"I don't think about the past, I only have the present and the future in mind. It will be an important season, last year was difficult for me but I still went into double figures and won a Europa League title.

"Now I only think of our season: I have good memories against Fiorentina, I made my Juve debut against them.

"It's never easy at the Franchi, but we must be strong as we know we are and take home the victory. I'm back on the same team as Cris [Ronaldo] after a few years and he's even stronger, more complete and ambitious, I'm happy to play with him again."

Higuain has switched shirt number this term and he believes the move to 21 is helping him turn his fortunes around.

"This is a decision that I made," the attacker added.

"I decided to swap from number nine, although it was available, with the day in which my daughter was born, to take her with me in every game - a choice of the heart, which is bringing me luck."

David Beckham and Inter Miami have set their sights on Lionel Messi.

Messi, 32, has regularly been linked with one day switching to MLS and it appears Inter are making their move.

Beckham seems to be trying his best to land the Barcelona superstar.

 

TOP STORY – BECKHAM IN TALKS WITH MESSI OVER INTER MIAMI MOVE

Beckham has spoken to Messi about joining Inter Miami, according to Catalunya Radio.

It comes in the wake of reports the forward can leave Barcelona at the end of any season, regardless of when his contract runs until.

The economic bid for Messi would be "brutal", the report said, as Inter look to sign the five-time Ballon d'Or winner.

 

ROUND-UP

- Inter Miami may not stop there. The MLS club, due to begin playing in 2020, are also eyeing Real Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane, according to AS. Napoli boss Carlo Ancelotti has previously said he is open to coaching Inter Miami.

- After the latest transfer saga ended with Neymar staying at Paris Saint-Germain, it is set to come back to life in January. PSG sporting director Leonardo wants the Brazil international to leave the Ligue 1 champions, according to Tuttosport, and a move could happen in January, with Barcelona and Real Madrid sure to again be linked.

- Barcelona are already looking ahead and are set to track Napoli midfielder Fabian Ruiz throughout this season, Mundo Deportivo reports. Fabian joined the Serie A side from Real Betis for a reported €30million in July last year.

- Expecting their transfer ban to be cut, Chelsea have identified Nice defender Youcef Atal as a target, according to The Sun. The Algeria international is also wanted by Valencia, Calciomercato.com reports.

- AC Milan have identified Stade Rennes teenager Eduardo Camavinga as a player to follow, according to Calciomercato.com. The 16-year-old made seven Ligue 1 appearances last season.

- Gonzalo Higuain is continuing to turn around his career at Juventus. Calciomercato.com says the forward – linked with a move away throughout the close season – will start alongside Cristiano Ronaldo when the Serie A champions face Fiorentina on Saturday.

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