Sergej Milinkovic-Savic scored a dramatic 96th-minute equaliser as Lazio came from two goals down to snatch a 2-2 draw with Juventus in Turin.

In a match where Juventus paid tribute to departing stars Giorgio Chiellini and Paulo Dybala, first-half goals from Dusan Vlahovic and Alvaro Morata seemed to have put the Bianconeri in control.

But after Alex Sandro's own goal halved the arrears, Maurizio Sarri's return to the Allianz Stadium ended in chaotic fashion when Milinkovic-Savic fired into the roof of the net with the last kick of the game.

As well as spoiling the farewell home appearances of Chiellini and Dybala, the result boosted Lazio's hopes of beating local rivals Roma to a fifth-place finish in Serie A.

Following Wednesday's Coppa Italia final defeat to Inter, it was confirmed Juventus will finish the 2021-22 season without a trophy for the first time since 2011.

Last season under Andrea Pirlo, Juventus not winning Serie A was in itself shocking, but this season has only shown further regression.

Massimiliano Allegri returning to replace Pirlo after his single season in charge was viewed as a means to halt that slide, but Juve will not just likely finish 10 points off the Serie A title winners and without a trophy this term; the Bianconeri are set to finish with a double-digit deficit in a season where the champions will likely will not break the 85-point barrier.

How much the Turin club spend relative to the rest in Italian football must be brought into context. Granted, the financial impact of COVID-19 caused significant restructuring, but they are still the only club in Italy to have a gross annual payroll in excess of €150million and are joined by Inter as one of only two over €100m. Meanwhile, seven Juventus players make up the top 10 salaries in Serie A this season.

Given that comparatively gaudy expenditure, that represents a spectacular failure – especially in comparison to the likes of the notoriously thrifty Atalanta or this Milan project that has sought to maximise value on the pitch and cut unnecessary spending. The major issue with Juve over the past four seasons has been a dramatically diminishing return on investment, but how has it manifested on the pitch?

Juventus had this inevitable capacity to find a way to win games in Allegri's first stint, but they were still volatile. It would be misguided to look at this season in isolation when in a continuum. Cristiano Ronaldo's arrival for the 2018-19 season – which was viewed as the key signing to propel them to long-awaited Champions League glory – arguably accelerated the regression.

Real Madrid's midfield and Karim Benzema allowed Ronaldo to have a largely singular role as the end point to the team's actions in possession. At Juventus, a player who was largely a finisher and was not going to force defensive collapses between the lines by that point had to take on greater responsibility in the team's build-up. Despite the Portuguese star's stature in the game, he was effectively signed for a task on the pitch he was not capable of fulfilling.

Consider that in his last season at Madrid, Ronaldo was averaging 46.87 touches per 90, and 10.02 were in the opposition's penalty area. The next two seasons at Juventus saw a dramatic shift, where for touches per 90 he averages 54.5 and 56.26 respectively. Touches in the penalty area actually decreased, however, at 6.64 and 6.92 respectively per 90.

With Paulo Dybala as the team's attacking focal point, Miralem Pjanic had previously mitigated the deeply conservative nature of Juve's midfield, but with Ronaldo it became a bridge too far. Ronaldo might have sustained his goal involvements, but it came at the expense of the collective. The Bianconeri came no closer to winning the continental silverware he was brought to Turin to secure but, more importantly, declined domestically and were suddenly challenged for what had become a fait accompli that decade in Serie A.

Pjanic's departure at the end of 2019-20 further accelerates that regression, despite the arrivals of Arthur, Alvaro Morata, Federico Chiesa and Weston McKennie that off-season, as well as Adrien Rabiot, Mathijs de Ligt and Dejan Kulusevski the previous off-season.

Arguably, the additions of Rabiot, McKennie and Arthur have only further reinforced the rigidity of Juve's midfield over the years. Pjanic's final season saw him average 1.21 chances from open play per 90, along with 10.34 passes into the final third and 0.13 for expected assists at 92.66 touches. Not one Juventus midfielder since has been able to match all of those averages individually, and trying to replace them in an aggregate creates different requirements elsewhere.

 

Amid Dybala's increasingly marginalised status upon Ronaldo's arrival, it necessitated someone like Morata, whose fantastic movement and ability to incorporate the players around him is paired with erratic finishing in front of goal. It represents a sizeable trade-off. Still, Morata leads the Bianconeri for chances created (1.63) in open play per 90 in all competitions this season.

That provides some context for this season and Dusan Vlahovic's arrival, because he is almost the opposite to Morata – cold-blooded in front of goal, but much less flexible in build-up play and movement off the ball. Yet, while he creates fewer chances in open play (0.81) than Morata, the quality of his shots (0.13 xG per shot) is still lower than Morata's average of 0.16.

 

 

It all matters because, with the exception of Inter and Lazio, the Bianconeri still keep more of the ball than anyone else in Serie A. They both can and cannot afford for their midfield to be so palpably one-dimensional. While Juventus rank 19th across the top five leagues in Europe for touches per 90 (678.46) in all competitions, they rank 32nd for big chances created per 90 (1.56), and 50th for passes into the final third (53.02), calling into question the nature of their possession and how they actually generate their chances.

With that all in context, it can be difficult to definitively assess someone like Fabio Miretti or where he best suits in a system of play, because it is akin to developing an emotional attachment to a captor.

Yet Dybala's forthcoming departure from Turin at the end of this season is symbolic, let alone if he ends up somewhere else in Serie A.

His career trajectory over the past four years, coinciding with Juve's regression and eventual embarrassment of this season, represents how badly the club have managed squad composition and, to reference Jose Mourinho's famous quote, their Champions League dream that became an obsession. As such, they have lacked anything resembling a plan or clarity, and have been blindly led by ambition to this empty-handed season.

Massimiliano Allegri compared Dusan Vlahovic's recent goalscoring drought to Cristiano Ronaldo's early struggles with Juventus as they prepare for the Coppa Italia final with Inter.

Juve will attempt to salvage silverware from a disappointing season when they face Inter at the Stadio Olimpico on Wednesday. The Nerazzurri beat Juve 2-1 in the Supercoppa Italiana back in January.

The Bianconeri's hopes of regaining the Scudetto have long since evaporated, with Juve 11 points behind leaders Milan with two Serie A games to play.

They have at least secured Champions League football for next season, despite a run of form from Vlahovic that has seen him fail to score in any of the past four games in all competitions.

But Allegri is backing their marquee January signing from Fiorentina to fire in the final, while drawing a comparison with Ronaldo's slow start to life in Turin, which saw the Portugal star go the opening three Serie A games of his Juve career without scoring.

Asked in his pre-match media conference about Serbia national coach Dragan Stojkovic's prediction that Vlahovic would score in the final, Allegri responded: "I hope he scores two! Not just one.

"Vlahovic is doing well and is serene. Sometimes he asks too much of himself. He is worthy of Juventus and he can improve next season.

"He has been scoring a decent amount of goals. In Italy, it isn't easy to score a goal per game.

"When Ronaldo arrived, he didn't score for five or six games. If Vlahovic looks upset, it means that he cares about what he does."

Luigi Delneri was the last Juve coach to end a season without a trophy, doing so in 2010-11. Allegri is keen to avoid that fate at the end of a season impacted by Ronaldo's departure to Manchester United.

"The team had a bad start, but we reached an important result because playing the Champions League every season is crucial," said Allegri.

"We'll try to improve things and be ready to start again from next season.

"You all know that seeing Ronaldo leave with only three days remaining in the summer transfer window wasn't easy. I had to know the team as well. Then we lost Federico Chiesa.

"We faced a few difficult moments. On the other hand, we have improved and qualified for the Champions League round of 16. The club helped us by signing Dusan Vlahovic in January, but our run was stopped against Inter last month.

"Now I know the players and the staff, I am sure that next season we'll have more chances to win our main target, the Scudetto. It would be nice to win tomorrow, end the season in the best way and prepare for the next one."

Manchester United were left short of attacking options due to the board's refusal to sign a forward late in January, according to Ralf Rangnick.

Rangnick took interim charge in November after the dismissal of club legend Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, and arrived as a highly acclaimed operator in the transfer market after his technical role at RB Leipzig.

United fans may have been hopeful the German would be allowed to deliver some transfer gems, having previously signed the likes of Erling Haaland, Sadio Mane and Naby Keita for small fees while at RB Salzburg.

However, United were instead left with a shortage of strikers after the unsettled Anthony Martial was loaned to Sevilla and Mason Greenwood was suspended indefinitely by the club with three days left in January.

Rangnick eyed moves for Dusan Vlahovic, who subsequently left Fiorentina for Juventus, Manchester City-bound Julian Alvarez, and Luis Diaz, who joined Liverpool from Porto, but none came to fruition.

That left United to rely on the evergreen Cristiano Ronaldo, who has scored nine of their last 13 league goals across 10 matches, with Edinson Cavani hampered by fitness and injury issues.

"The answer at the time was no there was no player on the market that could really help us – there were a few, Diaz who is now at Liverpool, Alvarez who will be at Manchester City in the summer, Vlahovic who at the time still was with Fiorentina those are just three of them that come across my mind now," said Rangnick.

"We had four days off at the time and on the Sunday I was informed about the issues with Mason Greenwood and obviously Anthony Martial had already left.

"Then I was aware that within four days we had some strikers missing and it might make sense, we were still in three competitions – Champions League, FA Cup and fourth in the league but that's the past and it doesn't help us anymore.

"I spoke to the board and said shouldn't we at least speak and try and analyse if we could get a player either on loan or as a permanent deal but in the end the answer was no.

"I still believe that we should have at least tried, if we would've found and been able in 48 hours, 48 hours is short notice but it's still 48 hours, it might have been worth to try and internally discuss but we didn't and it was not done."

Rangnick will move into a consultancy role at the end of the season, alongside his coaching commitments with Austria, and partner the incoming Erik ten Hag in an attempt to transform United's fortunes.

Ten Hag has already demanded some ruling over transfers, while Rangnick claimed United may need up to 10 players to compete.

Rangnick is under no illusions about how sizeable the rebuilding task will be at Old Trafford.

"If there is a good thing about the poor season we had so far it is that everybody now should be aware how big and where the problems are and what needs to be done to raise the level again and to be a serious title contender again – and this is what it's all about – to me it's obvious what needs to be done, this is what is most important," said Rangnick.

"If there hadn't been any problems before I came I wouldn't have come, probably Ole [Gunnar Solskjaer] would still be sat here answering your questions.

"There were some problems the team already had at the end of November and as we all know in the first couple of months until the end of January we were improving, we conceded less goals, we had a point average of 2.1 after the West Ham game but then in that international break we lost three players and we had problems to score goals and find our balance."

"Now it's time to look ahead, now we have two games to play try to play as well as we possibly can, get as many points as we possibly can out of those two games. 

"Then together with Erik, together with the board, together with the scouting department, hopefully find and also convince the players, it's not only about finding them, scouting them you also have to convince them to come to Manchester United."

Massimiliano Allegri says Juventus do not need to change their style to see the best of Dusan Vlahovic, as the striker prepares to face former club Fiorentina in the Coppa Italia semi-finals.

However, Allegri did acknowledge the Bianconeri must improve their attacking returns after seeing nine Serie A outfits outscore them this season.

After winning the first leg 1-0 in Florence, Juventus, who have progressed from each of their last six Coppa Italia semi-finals, remain among the favourites for a sixth domestic cup triumph in eight seasons, having lifted the trophy in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2021.

The Bianconeri are, though, just the 10th-highest scorers in Serie A despite Vlahovic netting seven goals in 14 appearances in all competitions since his January arrival, having scored 20 in 24 games for his previous employers this term.

Ahead of the Old Lady's decisive cup meeting with Vlahovic's former club, Allegri was adamant Juve did not need to change to accommodate the Serb, but acknowledged improvements were needed.

"Absolutely not," he replied when asked if changes might benefit Vlahovic. "Vlahovic has played 14 games and scored seven goals.

"Right now, we can't play like we did in November or December, because the games weigh more. There is no chance to recover.

"We need to improve the tenth place in the ranking of goals scored, we need to be more concrete.

"In football there is one thing that remains old, but it still counts: the goal difference, which then leads you to win or lose the championships."

Allegri has reached the Coppa Italia final four times as Juventus manager, already more than any other Bianconeri manager in history. His only elimination before the competition's final came in 2018-19's quarter-finals, a 3-0 loss to Atalanta.

The 54-year-old lifted Italy's domestic cup on all four occasions where he reached the final, and says Juve's strong run will count for nothing if they fall short of winning the trophy.

Although he also emphasised the importance of a top-four league finish and said a semi-final win would not "turn around" the season, he noted that reaching a final was a "good goal".

"The Coppa Italia only counts if you win it," he added. "If you lose it, you have failed completely. As for the championship, Juve must now think about finishing in the top four. 

"In early January, no one would have expected Juventus to be five points clear of fifth [Roma] with five games to go. Now we have to be good at defending [against] them.

"We haven't won games in which we played well, we lacked that little bit more to make the leap forward. We have to work on this, and the next year will surely be better.

"Tomorrow's game does not make the season turn around, but it will allow us to go to the final and it would be a good goal."

Juventus have lost only one of their last 25 home games in the Coppa Italia (winning 20 and drawing four). Coincidentally, this was a defeat against Fiorentina in the 2014-15 semi-finals, when Mohamed Salah netted a brace for the Viola and Fernando Llorente scored for the Bianconeri.

Juventus head coach Massimiliano Allegri acknowledged the Bianconeri's slim title hopes were over despite Dusan Vlahovic's dramatic late equaliser against Bologna.

The Serbian striker scored the 50th goal of his Serie A career five minutes into stoppage time to spare the blushes of the Turin giants, who were on course for an embarrassing loss despite Adama Soumaoro and Gary Medel receiving late red cards for Bologna after Marko Arnautovic's second-half opener.

The result marked the first time Juventus have failed to defeat Bologna since February 2016 and left Allegri's men eight points behind league leaders Milan with just five games remaining, as their hopes of a 10th Scudetto in 11 seasons faded.

Juventus failed to register a single shot on target during a dismal first-half showing, the fifth time they have done so during Allegri's first season back at the helm but first since facing Fiorentina in November.

The 54-year-old insisted after the draw that the Bianconeri were embroiled in a four-way battle for Champions League football rather than the title race, acknowledging his team needed to show more patience against a stubborn Bologna defence. 

"This year Juve is not fighting for the Scudetto," Allegri said. "We had gotten close to Inter, even until today, when we stopped. 

"In football, however, anything could happen. Reaching fourth place remains an important goal. I think Fiorentina have a good calendar and a direct match against us. Then there are also Lazio and Roma.

"We take one step at a time. In football you think one thing and another happens. We have to be calmer. The games last a long time and there is always time to win them."

Juventus hold a lead of six points over fifth-placed Roma in the Serie A table, having played one extra game ahead of the Giallorossi facing Napoli on Monday.

Allegri refused to criticise his team for a below-bar display, however, suggesting they would have lost the same game had it occurred at the start of the season.

"We managed to equalise a match that had become complicated after playing a bad first half," he added. "Immediately [after conceding] we hit the post and shot more on goal. 

"Lately we have conceded too many goals, we need to improve, but we would have lost these games at the beginning of the season. Let's look at the glass half full."

Juventus defender Leonardo Bonucci also rued the Old Lady's lack of patience when faced with breaking down their opponents, as Bologna avoided defeat at Juventus for the first time since September 2011.

"We tried to push and put pressure on after the equaliser," the 34-year-old said. "With more clarity we could also have scored the second goal, given their numerical inferiority. 

"It was a pity because three points could have given us so much."

With Juve seemingly out of the Serie A title race, their last hope of silverware this season is the Coppa Italia, in which they host Fiorentina on Wednesday after winning their semi-final first leg 1-0.

Dusan Vlahovic netted a stoppage-time equaliser as Juventus rescued a 1-1 draw against nine-man Bologna in Turin, though the result still dealt a severe blow to their slender title hopes. 

Juve failed to create clear-cut chances during a dismal first-half display before Marko Arnautovic's goal put Bologna ahead.

Yet the match sparked into life in the final stages when Adama Soumaoro and Gary Medel both received red cards amid remarkable scenes.

Juve made their numerical advantage count when Vlahovic nodded in on the line from Alvaro Morata's acrobatic attempt to salvage a point that leaves them eight behind Serie A leaders Milan.

Massimiliano Allegri has told Juventus they require at least 10 points from their remaining six games to clinch a Champions League place as Dusan Vlahovic targets a landmark goal.

If Vlahovic scores against Bologna on Saturday, the former Fiorentina striker will reach 50 goals in his Serie A career at the age of 22 years and 78 days old.

In Italian top-flight history, only one foreign player has reached 50 at a younger age, with Alexandre Pato doing so with Milan at 21 years and 220 days.

That gives context to Serbian Vlahovic's performance to date, with five of his goals having come in his first nine league games for Juventus.

Juventus sit just six points behind league leaders Milan, having last had a shorter gap to top spot after matchday two, but a defeat to Inter two weeks ago has probably ended their title hopes.

This is why Allegri is focusing on making sure of a fourth-place finish. A five-point cushion over fifth-placed Roma suggests Juventus should achieve that objective, but Allegri is demanding sharp focus.

There have been disappointments in his reign to date, including a Champions League last-16 exit to Villarreal and a Supercoppa Italiana loss to Inter, so there will be no early celebrations from Juventus.

"Bologna drew at San Siro against Milan and won the last match [2-0 against Sampdoria]. We have to be careful," Allegri said, "there are six games left between now and the end of the championship.

"We still need 10 points to get into the Champions League. I am satisfied with how the team have grown and how we are working. We have started a path, even if I am sorry about how we came out of the Champions League and how we lost the Supercoppa Italiana.

"The team have been doing well for several months now, but we have reached the crucial moment of the season and we must reach the minimum goal, which is fourth place, by.trying to score as many points as possible."

 

Juventus have a Coppa Italia semi-final second leg against Fiorentina coming up on Wednesday, with Allegri's side holding a 1-0 lead.

"We will think about the Coppa Italia from the day after tomorrow," Allegri said.

However, that game is already somewhat in his thoughts, with Allegri saying he will choose either Leonardo Bonucci or Giorgio Chiellini in central defence against Bologna, but will not pick both, given the importance of the Fiorentina game.

Vlahovic is a confirmed starter, and Allegri said: "I hope he can become the top scorer in the league."

Heading into the weekend, Vlahovic has 22 goals for the season, two fewer than top scorer Ciro Immobile of Lazio.

Juventus have won each of their last 11 Serie A games against Bologna, scoring 26 goals in this run, and at home they have put together eight successive league wins against Saturday's opponents.

Paulo Dybala should have demanded a one-year contract to prove his worth to Juventus if he was happy in Turin, according to former Bianconeri boss Fabio Capello.

Argentina international Dybala is set to see his time at the Allianz Stadium comes to its conclusion when his contract expires at the end of the season.

The forward has 113 goals across all competitions for Juve, ranking him third all-time among the club’s non-Italian scorers, behind only David Trezeguet (171) and John Hansen (124).

Fellow Serie A competitors Inter and Premier League side Tottenham, managed by former Nerazzurri coach Antonio Conte, are reportedly among the favourites to secure Dybala's signature for the next campaign.

But Capello believes if the 28-year-old was settled at Juve then he should have pleaded with the club for another chance, while he heaped praise on Massimiliano Allegri's new star striker Dusan Vlahovic.

"I like Vlahovic, he has pace, physical strength and desire to improve," he told Italian outlet Corriere dello Sport. "He knows how to work for the team and stay inside the box.

"But Max [Allegri] is right when he says that he must learn how to play in a top club, managing the pressure and the different phases in a game.

"You can't question Dybala technically, but he has had some fitness issues. If he was happy in Turin, he should have challenged Juventus. Ask them for a one-year contract and show how much he's worth.

"The same goes for [Roma forward Nicolo] Zaniolo. He suffered two serious injuries and remained out for 18 months. He must rediscover self-confidence because he has the technical skills."

 

Capello also expressed his concern for the state of Italian football, with the Azzurri missing out on two straight World Cups and no Serie A side in the Champions League quarter-finals.

Roma and Atalanta are the only two Italian sides left in the Europa League, and former England manager Capello believes Italy are way behind their international competitors.

"Italian football is far behind the others. The ball doesn't move quickly, referees blow the whistle too often," he added. "They stop the play too frequently. Every challenge is a foul, so there is never intensity, our teams do not learn to keep up the pace.

"We have fallen behind, in every sense, but the main problem is that the best players no longer come to Italy, so there is no comparison with the best. 

"I don't learn anything if what should help me grow is of the same level as me, has my same knowledge, identical experiences"

Allegri acknowledged his reluctance to use young players in an interview on Friday, and the preference to utilise more experienced players is a problem thought to spread across the whole of the Italian game.

Capello expects no quick fixes as he cited the progression of other countries to learn from.

"Even eight. In Italy, everyone intervenes," he responded when asked if it would take five or six years to return Italy to the top of the footballing pyramid.

"As for youth sectors, those in charge should have a trip to Spain where they work on the technique, not on tactics."

Dusan Vlahovic joins Kylian Mbappe and Erling Haaland as "the best players of their generation", according to Juventus head coach Massimiliano Allegri.

Allegri signed Serbia international Vlahovic from Fiorentina in January in a transfer initially worth €70million, and the striker has managed four goals in his first seven Serie A games for his new club.

The former Viola star also netted 33 times in the league in 2021, matching Cristiano Ronaldo's record for the most scored in the Italian top flight during a calendar year.

Indeed, his 21-goal league haul last season was the highest recorded by a Fiorentina player in a single campaign since Alberto Gilardino in 2008-09 (25), and he has carried that form into the new campaign as well.

Vlahovic has registered 21 goals across appearances for Juve and Fiorentina in Serie A this season, making him the league's joint-top scorer – level with Ciro Immobile – while only Robert Lewandowski (31) and Karim Benzema (22) have scored more in Europe's top-five leagues.

Haaland, who has been limited by injuries at Borussia Dortmund, is ninth in the same list with 16 Bundesliga goals, striking once every 81 minutes on average, while Paris Saint-Germain's Mbappe is 11th with 15 to his name in the French top flight.

Allegri hailed the youthful trio as he expressed his excitement to see Vlahovic develop more.

"He is a young player with not much international experience. But he has quality. He wants and can improve. He has time to do it," Allegri said of Vlahovic in an interview with GQ, as quoted by CalcioMercato.

"He is ruthless in front of the goal and Juventus made an important signing. He, Mbappe and Haaland are the best players of their generation."

While there were expectations that Vlahovic's arrival may knock Alvaro Morata down the pecking order of Juve strikers, Allegri reiterated that the Spain international remains integral to his plans in Turin.

"I called him that night [when Juve signed Vlahovic] to tell him: 'You are going nowhere, with him, you will become even more important,' and that's what happened," Allegri added on Morata.

"It's crazy to question Morata. He can't be at his best if he is asked to do things that he can't. But he's always been available playing in a position which is not exactly the best one for him."

Allegri will be hoping for Morata and Vlahovic to link-up once more when Juve, who are fourth in Serie A and seven points adrift of leaders Milan, host Inter on Sunday.

Juventus chief executive Maurizio Arrivabene has confirmed Paulo Dybala will leave the Bianconeri when his contract expires at the end of the season.

Dybala moved from Palermo to Juventus in June 2015 in a deal worth up to €40million and has since scored 80 goals in 202 Serie A appearances.

The forward was on target in Sunday's 2-0 win over Serie A strugglers Salernitana, with Alvaro Morata alone matching his league tally of eight for Juve so far this season.

Dybala now has 113 goals across all competitions for Juve, ranking him third all-time among the club’s non-Italian scorers, behind only David Trezeguet (171) and John Hansen (124).

However, head coach Massimiliano Allegri suggested he did not know what the future held for the Argentina international, before reports claimed he would be departing.

Arrivabene reinforced those claims on Monday, as he told Tuttomercatoweb.com: "The most important change is that Juventus has not renewed Paulo Dybala's contract.

"With the transfer market, I reiterated it: the approach was sincere. With the signings made in January, with the arrival of [Dusan] Vlahovic, Paulo's position is not what it was any more at the centre of the project.

"That is why we preferred to make this kind of decision."

Previous reports suggested Dybala had reached a verbal agreement with Juve last October before nothing came of the negotiations, and Arrivabene acknowledged the club's January business had changed their thinking.

"The parameters were different. I had already talked about it; no one has ever questioned Paulo's ability," he continued. "There were considerations to be made on appearances, contract length and financial considerations.

"We had to make our choices in January, we made them, we got here. For Juventus, it would have been easy to make a lower offer, but it would have been disrespectful towards Paulo. The decision has been made. Today's meeting was friendly, clear and respectful."

Massimiliano Allegri is unsure whether Paulo Dybala will remain at Juventus beyond the end of this season after he scored in a 2-0 win over Salernitana.

Dybala's fifth-minute strike beat Luigi Sepe at his near post to set the Bianconeri on their way to a routine win, extending their unbeaten run to 16 Serie A games and keeping them within seven points of leaders Milan.

He has now scored eight league goals for Juventus this term, more than any other player (Alvaro Morata also has eight), but the 28-year-old has recently been linked with a move away from Turin.

The Argentine's contract with Juventus is set to expire at the end of the season, and he was reported to have clashed with Allegri over the Bianconeri's training schedule earlier this week.

Speaking after Dybala starred against Serie A's bottom club, the Bianconeri boss was unsure whether he would remain at the club.

"I don't know if he will be a Juventus player or not," Allegri told DAZN. "That's why there is the club, with which I am absolutely in line. 

"It is not just Paulo who is about to expire his contract, there are also [Juan] Cuadrado, [Federico] Bernardeschi, [Mattia] De Sciglio. 

"On my part and on the part of the team, there is only the will to do well now. I give evaluations of the players, but then there are also contracts and many other things to see."

Despite being unsure as to where the forward's future lay, Allegri was adamant that the pair have maintained a positive relationship.

"The relationship with Dybala and all the other players is good," the Bianconeri coach added.

"There are disagreements, exchanges of opinions, and I am quite direct in things. The players have to perform on the pitch, and they have to know that they have my respect, regardless. 

"Paulo arrived as a child from Palermo, then he grew up and became a great player."

Dybala was joined on the scoresheet by Dusan Vlahovic after 28 minutes.

The Serbia international's 21st Serie A goal of the campaign put him level with Adem Ljajic as the second-highest goalscorer from his nation in Italian top-flight history; his tally of 48 putting him just three behind Dejan Stankovic (51).

Allegri was keen to emphasise the importance of Vlahovic at the spearhead of his attack, but said the league's leading marksman still had room to improve. 

"He played a good game," Allegri said of the 22-year-old. "He's an important point of reference, then he comes back and covers. 

"Like everyone, I talk to him often, he needs to improve a lot on the cleanliness of the game. He knows this, and we are working on it."

Juventus have taken 35 points from their last 15 league games to give themselves an outside shot of the Serie A title, having taken just 24 points from their first 15 this season.

Juventus responded to their shock Champions League defeat to Villarreal by beating Salernitana 2-0, as forwards Paulo Dybala and Dusan Vlahovic starred in Turin.

Dybala's early strike set the tone for a routine victory, and Vlahovic doubled the lead after twice being denied by visiting goalkeeper Luigi Sepe.

The home defence was untroubled during a quiet second half, with Juve's win meaning they are unbeaten in their past 33 Serie A outings against teams starting the game in the bottom three.

Massimiliano Allegri's team also extended their unbeaten league run to 16 games, remaining in the hunt for a 10th Scudetto in 11 years. 

Dybala required just five minutes to open the scoring, latching onto Vlahovic's pass in the area before rifling a left-footed shot past Sepe at his near post.

The Argentine should have doubled his tally on 13 minutes, chipping over the bar when through on goal, before Vlahovic was denied by a superb Sepe save after Dybala's unselfish cut-back.

Sepe made another excellent save just moments later, clawing Vlahovic's goal-bound flick away from the bottom-right corner, but the Serbia star did net on 28 minutes when he headed home Mattia De Sciglio's cross from inside the six-yard box.

The Bianconeri did not concede a single shot on target during a dominant first-half display and went close to a third on the hour when Sepe almost spilled Matthijs de Ligt's volley to Vlahovic.

Lively substitute Simone Verdi drew Wojciech Szczesny's first save with a long-range strike, and the Poland keeper made a superb stop from Federico Bonazzoli's volley, as the hosts continued their fine league form.

What does it mean? Bianconeri maintain excellent Serie A run

As well as providing the perfect tonic to their 3-0 Champions League last-16 second-leg defeat, Juve's win moved them back to within seven points of Serie A leaders Milan and maintained their fantastic run of league form.

The Bianconeri are one of just two teams in the big five European leagues, the other being Sevilla, to be unbeaten in league action since the start of December. Allegri's men have taken 35 points from their past 15 games, having collected just 24 from their first 15 this season.

Fast start for Dybala 

Dybala's early strike set Juventus on their way to a routine win and marked the fifth time that the 28-year-old has opened the scoring in a Serie A match this season.

He has now scored eight league goals for Juventus this term, more than any other player has managed for the Bianconeri.

Vlahovic eyeing Stankovic record after bullying promoted outfit 

Having failed to score in his first 12 Serie A games against promoted sides, Vlahovic's first-half header was his 11th goal in his past nine such contests.

With his 48th strike in the competition, Vlahovic has equalled Adem Ljajic as the second-highest scoring Serbian in Serie A history, with only Dejan Stankovic (51 goals) ahead of him on that list.

What's next?

Title-chasing Juve are back in Serie A action after the international break, hosting Inter in a crucial Derby d'Italia clash over the first weekend of April, when Salernitana host Torino.

Massimiliano Allegri confirmed Juventus stars Giorgio Chiellini and Paulo Dybala will return against Villarreal in the Champions League, while he hailed the partnership between Dusan Vlahovic and Alvaro Morata.

The Bianconeri were held to a 1-1 draw in the first leg of the last-16 clash between the pair on February 22, leaving it all to play for in the return meeting on Wednesday in Turin.

History favours the Italian hosts at the Allianz Stadium, given Juve have won each of their last six Champions League home games - only managing more consecutive such victories once in the competition (10 games between 1996 and 1997).

Allegri's side will also be boosted by the return of Dybala and Chiellini, who have not featured in over a month due to muscle injuries, but they will be without Leonardo Bonucci and Alex Sandro.

"Chiellini, Dybala and [Federico] Bernardeschi are back," Allegri told reporters at Tuesday's pre-match news conference.

"They are three important returns, we hope to win the game in normal time otherwise we will have to do it in extra time.

"Tomorrow the substitutions will be important. Chiellini, Dybala and Bernardeschi are not ready to play 90 minutes, but they can be important changes.

"Bonucci is out: at Empoli and with Villarreal in the first leg, he was struggling with injury and made himself available to the team. He has a calf problem that will keep him out.

"Alex [Sandro] felt something in his calf and I do not want to risk it, since it is not the last game of the season. [Denis] Zakaria will maybe come back on Thursday, otherwise after the international break."

 

Vlahovic became just the third player in Champions League history to score inside the first minute on their debut in the competition, after Andreas Moller (for Borussia Dortmund v Juventus) and Ishak Belfodil (for Hoffenheim v Manchester City).

Allegri revealed that the former Fiorentina striker will start against Unai Emery's side, while he praised the recent form of the Serbian forward and partner Morata.

"Vlahovic will play, Morata is in good form and he's always had quality. He was always criticised despite playing in a position that was not his natural one.

"I am happy with him, he is playing well with Vlahovic, he has more freedom on the pitch. We all feel well, we'll also need a bit of luck to qualify.”

As for Juve's chances of winning the competition, Allegri - who has twice guided the Bianconeri to the Champions League final - insisted that his side must leave everything on the pitch and not have any regrets.

"I have clear ideas, hopefully, I’ll get it right. The team is feeling well. It’s the decisive moment of the season," he continued.

"We must have the ambition to reach the final, it's a target we have so we must try. If we are good and lucky, we'll make it, if the others are better than us, we won't make it.

"We can't have regrets, tomorrow is like a final that we play at home. 

"However, we've done nothing so far. We can't lose balance, we must keep our feet on the ground and take a step at a time. The target was to get to March and play for our targets. We are here, there's adrenaline, the fans will have to help us.

"Villarreal are an experienced team, with a very good coach. They concede almost nothing, we must make as few mistakes as possible and prepare the game well. We took some risks in Spain, but we also had a few chances to double the lead."

Juventus head coach Massimiliano Allegri warned that "a moment can change everything" heading into a decisive stage of the season.

Allegri's side started the season in mixed fashion, but a 14-game unbeaten streak in Serie A has them back on track and they are one of only five teams still unbeaten in Europe's top-five leagues in 2022.

Juve sit fourth in the league, six points clear of fifth-placed Atalanta and just seven adrift of leaders Milan, and are still in the Champions League with the return leg of their last-16 clash against Villarreal to come on Wednesday.

The Bianconeri next head to Sampdoria, who Juve have won their last six against in all competitions and scored at least two goals in each of those games, but Allegri is expecting a tough test on Saturday.

Juve boss Allegri also referenced a frantic Champions League clash between Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid as a warning sign for how quickly things can change in football.

"We've reached the decisive moment of the season," he told reporters at Friday's pre-match news conference. 

"With two months to play, this is the run-in. There's the international break in a week, but in the meantime, we have an intense week ahead of us. 

"Our first objective is to defeat Sampdoria, then the second is to qualify to the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

"Our objective is to finish in the top four. Whether fourth, third or second, it's not important. What is important is that we continue our positive run and hold down fourth place.

"Football is played on a knife's edge - as was demonstrated during the week between Real Madrid and PSG.

"When the situation appears to be going well, a moment can change everything. So, concentration needs to be kept to a maximum."

 

Sampdoria are eyeing three straight home league wins for the first time since a run between December 2018 and January 2019, and Allegri reiterated the challenge that a new-look side under Marco Giampaolo pose.

Allegri added: "In their two matches at home with Marco Giampaolo as coach, Sampdoria have scored six goals and conceded none, while 25 per cent of their goals were scored in the opening 15 minutes, so our approach needs to be right. 

"Winning in Genoa is always difficult, either against Genoa or Sampdoria. They are transformed when they play at home. We need to have the character to obtain the result we’re looking for."

Juve will be hoping that new signing Dusan Vlahovic can continue his fine scoring run against Sampdoria, who are his favourite opponent in Serie A having scored five goals in five games against them.

Allegri still wants to see more from the former Fiorentina striker Vlahovic, despite the forward topping Juve's scoring charts with three goals in five league games since his arrival, averaging a goal every 143 minutes in Serie A.

"I am happy with how Dusan Vlahovic is coping with the mental stress of playing every three days," he continued. 

"Every ball is decisive. I told him yesterday that he needs to be more precise in each action he’s involved in, to spare some energy and increase his skill."

While Vlahovic has impressed in recent weeks, Juve have been without talisman Paulo Dybala but Allegri hinted at a return for the Argentina international against Villarreal.

"I still need to decide who will play because I'm aware that some players need a rest," Allegri said of his team for the Sampdoria clash. 

"The good news is that Mattia De Sciglio and Alex Sandro are back with the team, and Juan Cuadrado feels fine. Federico Bernadeschi is suspended, but Danilo will definitely play. It will be his 100th game for Juventus, so how can he not play?

"Paulo Dybala is improving. He could be available for the Champions League, so could Leonardo Bonucci.

"On Sunday, Giorgio Chiellini should be back with the team. When the Champions League arrives, it's like honey, it attracts everyone."

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