Lautaro Giannetti dealt Juventus’ Serie A title hopes a potentially fatal blow as he grabbed the only goal of the game to earn a stunning 1-0 win for struggling Udinese.

The visitors made the most of a sluggish performance from Massimiliano Allegri’s men, who still trail leaders Inter Milan by seven points having played a game more.

Arkadiusz Milik was guilty of wasting most of the home side’s good chances as Udinese held firm for only their second win in 13 Serie A games which moves them three points clear of the relegation zone.

Looking to bounce back from last week’s loss to Inter, Juventus looked unlikely to be duly troubled in a strong start which saw Andrea Cambiaso and Federico Chiesa come close.

Udinese goalkeeper Maduka Okoye was busy early on, saving well from Milik’s close-range header then denying Federico Gatti who should have done better from the edge of the box.

The visitors grabbed the lead against the run of play in the 25th minute when Giannetti bundled home the loose ball after a free-kick was flicked on by Thomas Kristensen deep into the home box.

Milik failed to reach a cross-shot from Cambiaso that caused panic in the Udinese box and it was clear the home side were once again missing striker Dusan Vlahovic, who was ruled out with a groin strain.

Milik headed straight at Okoye and it could have got worse for Juventus on the stroke of half-time when Sandi Lovric fired a speculative effort over from just outside the box.

Allegri’s men hardly improved after the break as they huffed forward for little reward, although they did briefly think they had levelled on the hour mark.

A corner was headed back for Milik to nod home but celebrations were cut short as the referee ruled the ball had drifted out of play in the course of the initial set-piece.

Chiesa rammed a 72nd-minute effort over the bar while Kenan Yildiz was inches from connecting with Cambiaso’s left-wing cross in front of goal as Udinese managed to hold on for a famous win.

Massimiliano Allegri will not allow his Juventus players to be distracted from their mission of qualifying for the Champions League after a year out of Europe.

A seventh-placed finish last season, thanks in part to a 10-point deduction for capital gain violations, meant the Bianconeri were not even able to compete in the Europa Conference League this term, leaving their midweeks largely free.

That has not translated into a waltz to the Serie A title, however, with leaders Inter Milan still two points out in front despite Juve winning 12 of their last 15 matches and remaining unbeaten in the league since September.

Head coach Allegri remains wary that any complacency creeping in could allow rivals like AC Milan and Fiorentina to overtake them, and he stressed that Sunday’s match at mid-table Lecce represents an excellent opportunity for his side to demonstrate how much they have improved.

He told reporters: “Playing at Lecce is difficult, they played well against Inter and Lazio, defending really well, and they’ve got good results from their last four home matches.

“We have to focus solely on getting a positive result. The main objective is to not concede – that’s happened to us in our last four away games.

“We’re still missing lots of points in our mission to qualify for the Champions League. That’s what we are chasing, that is our goal.

“We can see that Inter are doing great things, they’ve collected 51 points already and are favourites for the Scudetto. We’re improving, but we know that winning at Lecce will be complicated. Celebrating a win is always easy but you’ve got to play the game first.

“Some horses need to wear blinkers and some don’t. Those who need to wear them worry about looking at others but blinkers help you focus on what is in front of us. We haven’t achieved anything so far – we’re only halfway there.”

Federico Chiesa and Adrien Rabiot are ruled out of the game at Stadio Via del mare, with breakthrough wing-back Andrea Cambiaso unlikely to feature.

“The squad is in good shape, we’re training in the right way,” said Allegri. “We won’t have Rabiot or Chiesa tomorrow: the former has a calf problem while Federico has suffered a recurrence of his knee issue and will be assessed in the next few days.

“Cambiaso has come on a lot and I’m happy, he’s great technically and is becoming an important player for us.”

Lecce have three players absent due to the Africa Cup of Nations: Zambian striker Lameck Banda, Tunisia’s Hamza Rafia and Ahmed Touba of Algeria. Albanian defender Kastriot Dermaku faces a late fitness check.

The Apulian club are 13th but starting to look over their shoulders after losing three of their last four games and scoring only once in that period.

Massimiliano Allegri is determined to lead Juventus to another Coppa Italia success.

Juve, the competition’s most successful side with 14 titles, are favourites to lift the trophy after holders Inter Milan and Serie A champions Napoli were both knocked out.

Standing in Juve’s way of a quarter-final tie against Frosinone is Serie A’s bottom club Salernitana, who travel to Turin on Thursday.

And Allegri, who has been in charge for four of the club’s cup successes, is aware of the opportunity that awaits a team who have not lifted any silverware since 2021.

He said: “The Coppa Italia means a lot to us, as it always has.

“That applies even more so this season as we’re only competing in this competition and in the league, so we must do everything possible to get to face Frosinone in the quarter-finals.

“Anything can happen in a knockout tie, as we saw with Napoli and Inter getting knocked out. The early stages of the Coppa Italia may not interest everyone, but there’s a trophy at stake.

“Losing or drawing a game at this club can almost be a catastrophe, which is exactly why we have to give our all to progress. That’s what’s great about being at Juve.”

Thursday’s opponents Salernitana have won just two of their 18 league matches this season.

The teams will meet twice in the space of four days, as they face off again in the league on Sunday, but Allegri has all eyes on the cup fixture.

He added: “Tomorrow we’re facing a team on the up. Salernitana beat Verona away from home (on Saturday) and are well drilled, so we mustn’t underestimate them.

“We’ll face them once again on Sunday, but right now we’re focused on the cup. When the tie is over, we’ll turn our attention towards the league.

“It’s always tough to win matches. The further ahead you go, the smaller the margin for error, so we need to be good in that regard.”

Allegri confirmed trio Mattia Perin, Daniele Rugani and Federico Chiesa will all start for the cup clash but is undecided about the rest of his selection.

He said: “I still need to assess the rest. (Kenan) Yildiz won’t play tomorrow. When a young player is doing well, they get highly praised straight away. He needs to stay calm and keep working hard.

“I’ll certainly send the best possible team out there tomorrow. The stadium will be packed out, so even more reason for us to want to win.”

Teenager Kenan Yildiz scored his first goal for Juventus on his full debut to help his team to a 2-1 victory over Frosinone.

With Federico Chiesa nursing a knee problem, 18-year-old Turkey international Yildiz was given his first start, and, in only the 12th minute, he beat three Frosinone players on the edge of the area before drilling his shot inside the near post.

The hosts levelled six minutes after the break through Jaime Baez but Dusan Vlahovic headed in an 81st-minute winner.

The victory sees Juve close to within one point of Inter Milan at the top of the Serie A table ahead of their clash with Lecce later on Saturday.

Frosinone have been strong at home this season, losing only once previously to Napoli in August, while they went into the clash buoyed by a 4-0 hammering of the same side in the Coppa Italia in midweek.

The visitors would have taken the lead in the seventh minute but for a brilliant block from Simone Romagnoli to cut out Weston McKennie’s cross with Arkadiusz Milik waiting for a tap-in.

They did not have to wait long for the breakthrough, though, Yildiz showing his talent with some brilliant skill after Stefano Turati had been hurried into a clearance.

Both teams were forced into early changes, with Federico Gatti replacing Alex Sandro and Baez coming on for Pol Lirola.

Frosinone were growing into the game and they forced Wojciech Szczesny into his first save in the 36th minute after on-loan Juventus starlet Matias Soule broke into the penalty area on the right and shot from a very tight angle.

Juve then created a good opportunity at the other end but Filip Kostic shot wildly wide of the near post after being played in by Milik.

Six minutes into the second half, the home side drew level. Right-back Ilario Monterisi was the creator with a brilliant pass that allowed Baez to get around the back of the Juve defence and slot first time past Szczesny.

Soule then almost put the hosts ahead with a curling effort from the edge of the box that evaded his team-mates and went just past the far post.

Vlahovic came off the bench as the visitors sought a response and he nearly provided it after being set up by Milik but Turati produced a smart block.

Szczesny then pulled off a fine fingertip stop to deny Abdou Harroui while McKennie left the bar shaking with a thunderous leaping volley as both sides chased a winner.

It eventually came from Vlahovic, who met McKennie’s cross from the right with a perfect header into the top corner.

The Serbian thought he had scored again late on but it was ruled out for offside.

Juventus missed the chance to move into top spot in the Serie A table as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Genoa.

Juve’s only dropped points in their previous eight games had come in a draw against leaders Inter, and a win would have left their rivals playing catch-up in Sunday’s clash with Lazio.

Federico Chiesa put the visitors ahead from the penalty spot in the 28th minute at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris, but Albert Gudmundsson levelled three minutes after half-time and Juve could not find a winner.

Massimiliano Allegri was without Adrien Rabiot, who joined Mattia De Sciglio and Moise Kean on the sidelines because of a minor foot problem, while Paul Pogba and Nicolo Fagioli were both suspended.

Genoa’s options in the attacking areas, meanwhile, were limited by the unavailability of Kevin Strootman and Mateo Retegui.

The hosts had the first shot in the sixth minute through Ruslan Malinovskyi, but it was from a long way out and was comfortably saved by Wojciech Szczesny.

Chiesa looked the man most likely at the other end and he tried to catch out Josep Martinez in the home goal with a fierce shot from the tightest of angles that was pushed behind.

Chiesa then turned creator in the 22nd minute with a brilliant cross to the edge of the six-yard box, where Dusan Vlahovic met the ball but could not keep his effort down.

Six minutes later the visitors took the lead, with Vlahovic seizing on a heavy touch in defence to play in Chiesa, who had his legs taken out by Martinez.

The striker picked himself up and confidently found the bottom corner from the penalty spot for his first goal in Serie A since September.

Genoa tried to hit back, but the closest they came before the break was a Johan Vasquez effort from a corner that flew just over the crossbar.

Alberto Gilardino sent on Caleb Ekuban for the second half in place of Vasquez and within three minutes he had created the equaliser, chesting the ball down and then heading it on for Gudmundsson to fire into the net on the stretch.

Martinez made amends for his own mistake three minutes later, this time timing his challenge on Chiesa perfectly after he had given the ball straight to the Juventus forward.

He then pushed away an Andrea Cambiaso cross that just evaded the onrushing Vlahovic.

But Martinez saved his best for last, reacting very smartly to push the ball over the bar after a corner hit Gleison Bremer on the hip and securing an impressive point for Genoa.

Federico Chiesa is "unstoppable" in one-on-one situations and would be a fantastic signing for any of Europe's top clubs, believes his former Juventus and Italy team-mate Giorgio Chiellini. 

Chiesa has been linked with a move to Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich in recent months, having impressed for Massimiliano Allegri's much-improved Juventus side this season. 

The Italy international only made six league starts for the Bianconeri in 2022-23, having battled back from an anterior cruciate ligament injury which caused him to miss most of 2022.

He has been back to something approaching his best this term, scoring four goals and adding one assist in 14 league games to help Juventus stay within two points of Inter at the Serie A summit.

Chiellini – who called time on his own glittering career at the age of 39 this week – believes the Azzurri forward could be a difference-maker for any of the continent's elite teams.

Speaking exclusively to Stats Perform, the former defender said: "Chiesa is a player that could play in every big team in Europe. He could face you 10 times and beat you nine of 10 times! 

"He can go right and left, his pace is amazing. He's fantastic for that type of job. 

"He's not the type of player that links the team, like a number 10, not a player that likes to have the ball and connect passes with team-mates, but one against one, he's unstoppable. 

"We have to use that in the space, one against one, starting from the edge and trying to shoot or cross into good positions. 

"That's the player that Chiesa is and that makes the difference. He would be good for Bayern, he would be good for Juventus and also many other teams all over Europe because these skills are unique and he's very good at that. 

"He's maybe not able to do other things but in those skills, he's very, very, very good."

Italy avoided another damaging defeat to North Macedonia to keep their automatic Euro 2024 hopes in their own hands after a 5-2 win in Rome which belied the nerves they suffered in the second half.

The hosts almost squandered a three-goal lead at the interval after Juventus forward Federico Chiesa scored twice to spare Arsenal midfielder Jorginho further agony when he failed to take his shot at redemption from the penalty spot.

It was Jorginho’s last-minute spot-kick miss two years ago in a 1-1 draw against Switzerland which ultimately consigned Italy to a World Cup qualifying play-off and led to North Macedonia’s shock win in Palermo.

But while the 31-year-old, making his first start since June, was fluffing his lines again with the score at 1-0, there was no such profligacy from Chiesa who scored a quick double late in the first half to pave the way for a seemingly comfortable victory.

However, half-time substitute Jani Antonov scored a double of his own to crank up the tension in the Stadio Olimpico before Giacomo Raspadori’s 81st-minute strike eased the nerves and another substitute, Stephan El Shaarawy, scored the fifth in added time.

The win put Luciano Spalletti’s side into second place in Group C and means they now only need a draw against Ukraine in Leverkusen to avoid another dreaded play-off.

It was one-way traffic from the off but Raspadori’s clip past goalkeeper Stole Dimitrievski in the 13th minute was ruled out for offside.

Three minutes later Chiesa, who caused Macedonia’s right side numerous problems all night, produced his first key intervention when he collected a return pass from Giacomo Bonaventura and saw his near-post shot denied.

However, from the resulting corner Raspadori’s cross was headed home by Matteo Darmian, his first international goal for eight years.

Chiesa was denied again by defender Jovan Manev before Nikola Serafimov’s handball from Federico Gatti’s close-range header led to Jorginho’s opportunity to banish the memories of two years ago but, having not scored for Italy in three years, he put a poor penalty too close to Dimitrievski.

But Chiesa came to his rescue, drilling home from the edge of the area after Macedonia failed to clear a throw-in from the right and then racing onto a Domenico Berardi through-ball to cut inside on his right foot and see his shot loop up off right-back Manev and over the goalkeeper.

The visitors were missing the injured Aleksandar Trajkovski, who had scored the winner in that play-off against Italy, but appeared to have found another hero in Atanasov.

Introduced for the second half, the 24-year-old scored with their first shot on target with his 52nd-minute header – his first international goal – leading to an unnecessary degree of tension for the hosts.

With 16 minutes remaining the pressure was ratcheted up when Atanasov’s drive from distance took a wicked deflection off Italy defender Franceso Acerbi but Raspadori and substitute El Shaarawy at least ended any fears of the necessity of a must-win final qualifier.

Massimiliano Allegri says victory is the only option for Juventus in their Turin derby with Torino on Saturday.

Juve host their city rivals in Serie A hoping to hang on to the coat-tails of the two Milan clubs at the top of the table.

They are also looking to bounce back from a disappointing 0-0 draw with Atalanta last week and Allegri says it is important to get bragging rights in a “special” encounter.

“We are not satisfied with a result other than victory,” he said in a press conference reported on the club’s website.

“It will be a derby and these are always special matches. In managing the ball and passing, we will undoubtedly have to play a better match than the one in Bergamo, aware of the value of the team we will face.

“We face a Torino that is difficult to play against, an aggressive team led by Ivan Juric who is an excellent coach. For him, the results he achieved and the growth of his players speak for themselves.

Midfielder Paul Pogba remains suspended amid reports he has tested positive for testosterone in his B sample.

Juventus will also be without Dusan Vlahovic and Federico Chiesa but Moise Kean and Kenan Yildiz will be involved.

“Moise Kean is doing well and will play.” Allegri added.

“It’s sad not to have Chiesa and Vlahovic because they are doing very well, but these things are part of the game. Kenan Yildiz is ready to play like everyone else who is available.

“On Saturday I will see, the derby is important and above all for us it could serve as another step forward in the standings. We are calm.

“In terms of goalscorers we have Kean, Arek Milik and Yildiz, in midfield we have Adrien Rabiot, who is a goalscorer, Nicolo Fagioli and Fabio Miretti who will start to score goals soon, and then several defenders who are always dangerous on dead-ball situations.”

Turin is black and white if recent results are anything to go by, with Juventus unbeaten in their last 17 meetings with Torino going back to 2015.

Their head coach Ivan Juric has seen his team push Juve close in recent years, without being able to get over the line.

And he hopes that changes on Saturday.

“An aggressive Juve awaits us, we hope to repeat what we have done in the past in terms of performances but with a different result,” he said on his club’s official website.

Juventus missed the chance to go top of Serie A after they slumped to a 4-2 defeat at Sassuolo.

The Bianconeri had claimed 10 points from an unbeaten start, but came unstuck at the Mapei Stadium as Sassuolo battled to a second league win.

After Juve midfielder Adrien Rabiot had fired an early shot wide, Sassuolo took the lead in the 12th minute when Armand Lauriente’s dipping shot squirmed past Juve keeper Wojciech Szczesny.

The visitors, though, hit back to level within 10 minutes.

Federico Chiesa sent over a deep cross from the left towards the far post where Weston McKennie was sliding in and Sassuolo defender Matias Vina got the final touch as the ball dropped into the net.

Manuel Locatelli drilled a low shot just wide before at the other end, Szczesny made amends for his early error with a fine one-handed save from Ruan Tressoldi’s downward header.

The Polish keeper, though, could do little to prevent Domenico Berardi from putting Sassuolo back in front five minutes before half-time.

Matheus Henrique rolled the ball across the edge of the penalty area and Berardi curled a fine left-foot strike into the corner to mark his 300th Serie A appearance with a fine goal.

There were penalty appeals from the visitors when Federico Gatti’s cross struck Ruan Tressoldi on the arm, but the referee’s decision not to award a spot-kick was backed up following a VAR review.

Juve coach Massimiliano Allegri made two changes for the start of the second half as Nicolo Fagioli and Samuel Iling-Junior replaced Fabio Miretti and Filip Kostic.

England Under-21 international Iling-Junior looked to inject fresh life into the Juve attack, darting down the left before a deep cross dropped just past the far post.

Sassuolo remained a threat on the counter, and Berardi slid Lauriente into the penalty area, but his wild shot flew over.

At the other end, Dusan Vlahovic scuffed just wide of the far post before Juve eventually equalised again with 12 minutes left.

Iling-Junior flicked down a deep cross at the back post and Fagioli cushioned it into the path of Chiesa, whose deflected strike flew in.

However, Sassuolo were soon back in front in the 82nd minute. Lauriente’s fierce drive was punched out by Szczesny, and Andrea Pinamonti nodded in the rebound.

Sassuolo keeper Alessio Cragno kept out Chiesa’s angled shot at the near post before substitute Gregoire Defrel almost scored another for the hosts on the break when his effort cannoned back off the crossbar.

The fourth goal did arrive in bizarre fashion during stoppage time when Gatti, under pressure from Henrique, knocked the ball back into an empty net after receiving a quick free-kick from Szczesny, who was left stranded out near the corner flag.

Juventus missed the chance to finish sixth in Serie A despite Federico Chiesa's strike sealing a 1-0 victory over Udinese at Dacia Arena.

After Paulo Dybala's late penalty helped Roma to a 2-1 victory over Spezia, Massimiliano Allegri's side were unable to leapfrog the Giallorossi and were forced to settle for a seventh-place finish in the league.

Chiesa's second-half strike was the difference for Juve, who were deducted 10 points for violating financial rules earlier in a rollercoaster campaign, but they suffered their lowest finish in Serie A for 12 years.

Meanwhile, Udinese finished 12th in Serie A following their 10th defeat in 12 meetings with the Old Lady. 

Udinese had lost their last three but went close after just four minutes when Beto somehow headed Florian Thauvin's cross over from inside the six-yard box.

Federico Chiesa’s deflected effort hit the side-netting before Juve saw a headed opportunity go begging as Leonardo Bonucci nodded against the crossbar from seven yards out following Arkadiusz Milik's flick-on.

Chiesa continued to cause Udinese problems down the left flank, yet the sides headed into half-time goalless after a profligate showing from both teams.

Juve squandered a great chance to break the deadlock just after the hour mark, Adrien Rabiot firing wide despite being found by Milik in acres of space inside the box.

But the visitors eventually opened the scoring in the 68th minute, Chiesa receiving the ball from Manuel Locatelli before bending a brilliant shot into the bottom-right corner.

Locatelli and Angel Di Maria went close to extending the advantage and though the single goal was enough, former Juve forward Dybala was to snatch sixth place for Roma from under his old club's nose.

Juventus' hopes of a top-four Serie A finish suffered a huge double blow as the Bianconeri were thrashed 4-1 at Empoli on the same day they received a 10-point deduction. 

Moments before kick-off, Juve expressed "great bitterness" at the Italian Football Federation's decision to issue a new penalty over alleged transfer irregularities, putting them seventh in the table.

Massimiliano Allegri's side showed no signs of being fired up by that ruling, as Francesco Caputo's penalty and Sebastiano Luperto's powerful effort quickly put Empoli in control. 

Caputo doubled up with a delicate finish after half-time and though Federico Chiesa pulled one back, Roberto Piccoli's stoppage-time strike compounded the visitors' misery and left them five points outside the top four with two games remaining.

Federico Gatti had the ball in the net after 14 minutes, prodding in the rebound after Arkadiusz Milik headed against the crossbar, but Bremer was adjudged to have fouled goalkeeper Guglielmo Vicario.

Empoli took full advantage of that escape four minutes later, Caputo drilling home from the spot after Milik clumsily tripped Nicolo Cambiaghi just inside the area.

The hosts only required a further three minutes to double their lead, Luperto smashing into the roof of the net from close range after Wojciech Szczesny denied Jean-Daniel Akpa Akpro.

Juve missed huge chances to pull one back either side of half-time, Bremer and Dusan Vlahovic both blazing over the crossbar when unmarked inside the area. 

Vlahovic's miss was swiftly punished as Caputo put the result beyond doubt after 48 minutes, lifting Akpa Akpro's square ball over Szczesny to complete his brace.

Chiesa gave Juve a faint glimmer of hope when he drilled a shot under Vicario with five minutes left, but Empoli restored their three-goal cushion in stoppage time as Piccoli fired into the bottom-left corner.

Angel Di Maria and Federico Chiesa remain in contention to play in Juventus' Europa League last-16 second leg against SC Freiburg despite injury worries.

Di Maria appeared hampered by a left thigh injury late in the 1-0 first-leg win last Thursday, where he earlier netted the winner, and subsequently missed Juventus' 4-2 Serie A win over Sampdoria on Sunday.

Chiesa came on in the 67th minute against Freiburg but sustained a right knee injury, although the club confirmed it was not ligament capsule damage.

Bianconeri head coach Massimiliano Allegri hopeful that the pair would play some part in the second leg, although he conceded they would not be fit to start.

"It is very unlikely they will be there from the start, as we only recovered them this morning, but they could be of use during the match," Allegri told reporters.

"I will evaluate Chiesa and Di Maria tomorrow morning and from there I can make my decision on the starting line-up.

"Unfortunately, Di Maria had this injury after the first leg with Freiburg and had to miss quite a few training sessions.

"The test went well today, that doesn’t mean he has a lot of minutes in his legs, but there is the risk we could lose him for 40 days, seeing as that is what happened in September.

"Tomorrow is important, but we also have many more matches to play this season."

Di Maria has scored eight goals in all competitions with four Serie Aa assists this term, while Chiesa has contributed three league assists with one goal.

Allegri declared striker Dusan Vlahovic was fully fit and available to play although he declined to commit to starting him alongside Moise Kean.

Vlahovic has not scored in his past six appearances dating back to his goal against Nantes in the Europa League on February 16.

"Dusan Vlahovic was very sad that he hasn't scored recently, but is fine physically. I am relaxed and certain that he’ll soon be back on the scoresheet," Allegri added.

"We want to score here, because just trying to defend for 0-0 is really not a good idea. Freiburg are good on set plays, we need to be very organised and concentrated for the full 100 minutes."

Massimiliano Allegri accepts it will take time for Paul Pogba to get fully up to speed as the midfielder prepares to make his long-awaited second debut for Juventus.

The France international has yet to feature for Juve since rejoining the club last July following his Manchester United exit due to a succession of setbacks.

He sustained a knee injury in pre-season that required surgery, forcing him to miss the entire season to date and France's World Cup campaign.

Pogba was on the substitutes' bench for Juve's shock 2-0 home loss to Monza in January, but Allegri opted against bringing him on and he has not featured in the squad since.

However, Allegri confirmed at his pre-match news conference on the eve of Tuesday's Serie A match with city rivals Torino that the 29-year-old is finally ready to play.

"He's feeling better and he's been called up for tomorrow's game," Allegri said. "If necessary, we'll play him. We know he won't have much playing time, but he can play.

"I've talked to him like I have all the others. He understands it's an important part of the season to get back playing. He must remain motivated to help us finish the season well."

Pogba, who signed a four-year deal with Juventus, has not played a competitive game since his former club United's 4-0 Premier League loss to Liverpool last April.

 

Allegri also confirmed Federico Chiesa, who has missed Juve's past two matches, is in contention to play against Torino.

"He trained with the team yesterday," Allegri said. "He can't start from the beginning. Players who come back from a long period of inactivity must be managed. He's fine, though.

"We have Pogba, who has not played for 315 days, and Chiesa, who missed 10 months. It'll take a little patience. It's normal – they're humans. We need to help them grow."

Juventus, who were docked 15 points last month following an investigation into the club's past transfer dealings, have won their past three Serie A games without conceding.

The Bianconeri are now eighth, 12 points off the top four ahead of their midweek Derby della Mole showdown with Torino, who are one point and one place further back.

Juve are unbeaten in their past 17 derbies in all competitions, with 13 wins and four draws.

"The derby is always an important game for both teams, especially for us. We must continue this climb by increasing our points in the league," Allegri said.

"This match has the value it must have. On the pitch, regardless of what happens outside, we have to get the points to stay in the top-four battle."

Not since April 1995 have Torino won away at Juventus, losing 11 times and drawing five since then.

Massimiliano Allegri explained injuries were to be expected for Federico Chiesa this season and the issue that will keep him out this week is "nothing serious".

Chiesa will not play for Juventus against Nantes in the second leg of their Europa League knockout round play-off.

His absence is a blow having impressed in a first leg the Bianconeri dominated before drawing 1-1 in Turin.

Any lay-off for Chiesa is likely to cause concern given he missed almost a year with an anterior cruciate ligament injury.

However, Allegri was able to reassure Juve supporters ahead of the match at Stade de la Beaujoire, suggesting such setbacks were natural after a major injury.

"Unfortunately, tomorrow we don't have him, but we knew this," Allegri said.

"When a player is 10 months without playing, he comes back and when he makes two games in a row, some issues can occur that are nothing serious but affect the possibility of having him available."

Juve would have hoped not to be playing in the Europa League, but Allegri still sees an opportunity to take a rare step.

In each of the previous three campaigns, the Serie A giants were beaten in their first knockout tie in the Champions League, meaning they are looking to end a long wait for a two-legged triumph.

"This year Juventus has an important goal," Allegri said. "It is to pass the first qualifying round, even if these are the 'sixteenth-finals', given that in the last three years we have always gone out in the first knockout round in the Champions League.

"Tomorrow is a final, a unique game, since away goals no longer count double. We know that tomorrow we play a game at [Nantes'] home, and we play for the passage through this round."

Juventus dominated throughout but were held to a 1-1 draw at home to Nantes after Ludovic Blas scored a priceless equaliser in the Europa League play-off.

Massimiliano Allegri's side fell into this competition after a dire Champions League campaign, finishing third in Group H, but looked good value for their early first-leg lead on Thursday.

Dusan Vlahovic tapped home after 13 minutes at Allianz Stadium, only for Blas to finish a flowing counter-attack in the second half before Juve were left aggrieved after a late VAR check deemed Andrei Girotto had not handled for a penalty in the dying minutes.

That left it all to play for in the return meeting at Beaujoire Stadium on February 23 after a wasteful Juve offered Nantes the chance for a memorable European night at home.

Angel Di Maria stung the palms of Alban Lafont with an early drive and Nantes did not heed the opening warning signs from Argentina's World Cup winner.

A delicate Di Maria chipped pass found Federico Chiesa to selflessly nod across for Vlahovic to convert from point-blank range.

Lafont parried another ferocious Di Maria long-range effort as a tepid Nantes were fortunate to head in at half-time just a goal down.

A clinical counter-attack drew Nantes level on the hour as Blas capitalised on Bremer's slip to race onto Mostafa Mohamed's pass and fire past Wojciech Szczesny.

Chiesa rattled the crossbar and Lafont's left post with a venomous left-footed strike that somehow bounced off the line and away from goal as Juve looked to respond.

Danilo blazed over on the volley before Girotto was deemed not to have handled when challenging a late Bremer headed chance, with the referee awarding a free-kick for a push on Girotto instead, leaving it all to play for in France next week.

What does it mean? Juve falter in rare Europa League appearance

Juve had played their last 84 matches in European competition in the Champions League, as has been their dominance in recent years on the continent.

On their first appearance in the Europa League since reaching the 2013-14 semi-finals, Allegri's side failed to make their superiority count and were punished for a profligate outing.

Any hopes in Serie A have diminished due to their points deduction, therefore Juve need to recover in the return leg as a run in Europe or April's Coppa Italia semi-final against Inter could be their only hope of salvaging a positive season.

Chiesa and Vlahovic finally link-up again

Star Juve attackers Chiesa and Vlahovic have rarely played together due to injuries hampering the pair this season, but Allegri will be delighted to see them together once more.

The duo linked up in ruthless fashion for the opening strike, just their second combination together for a goal – the other coming in August 2019 when Vlahovic assisted Chiesa for former side Fiorentina.

Lafont leads the way

Lafont produced a captain's performance as Nantes battled with their backs against the wall to keep their hopes alive in this two-legged affair.

While the majority were far from eye-catching, the France goalkeeper made six saves in a vital performance to stave off Juve's prolonged periods of pressure.

What's next?

Juventus return to Serie A action at Spezia on Sunday, when Nantes travel to Lens in Ligue 1.

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