Massimiliano Allegri says there is no questioning the "extraordinary" Paulo Dybala's value to Juventus and does not expect Arthur to leave this month.

Dybala's future is in doubt as the Argentina forward's contract expires at the end of the season and the 28-year-old has been linked with a move to Serie A rivals Inter.

Juve director Maurizio Arrivabene this week called for Dybala and his team-mates to show "character, grit and a desire to win" as the Turin giants battle for a Champions League spot.

Bianconeri head coach Allegri, who will take charge of the club for a 300th time when they face Udinese in Serie A on Saturday, says Dybala still has a big part to play.

He said: "The evaluations of the contracts are the job of the company, they are not things that concern me.

"I raised Dybala, he was a child when he arrived from Palermo, now he's grown up and he's an extraordinary player. I expect a lot [from Dybala] in this second part of the season. The value of the player is not discussed. He is a great player "

He added: "We are in a situation where we are temporarily out of the Champions League, so all the evaluations will be done in March/April. Juventus plans like this and we have to think about playing and working, we will see the rest later."

Midfielder Arthur has been strongly linked with a move to Premier League side Arsenal during the January transfer window.

Allegri is not planning for life without the Brazilian and also reiterated that Alvaro Morata will not be departing.

He said: "I don’t want to repeat myself. We have to get to the end of the season with these players in the best possible way.

"This means trying to reach the top four and go ahead in the Champions League and Coppa Italia."

Italy centre-back Leonardo Bonucci will miss Udinese's visit to Allianz Stadium due to a muscle injury.

Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri was gutted by his side's dramatic late defeat to Inter in Wednesday's Supercoppa Italiana, suggesting it was evidence of the "devil" inventing football.

Inter lifted the first piece of silverware of the Italian season thanks to a dramatic 2-1 win, secured with the final kick of the game at the end of extra time.

Weston McKennie had previously given Juve the lead, before a Lautaro Martinez penalty tied it up.

The two teams would remain level throughout the second half and for much of the additional 30 minutes.

That was until an error from Alex Sandro allowed Matteo Darmian to nudge the ball to Alexis Sanchez, who prodded home from close range to spark joyous celebrations.

It was Juve's 10th successive appearance in the Supercoppa, which pits the Serie A and Coppa Italia winners from the previous season against each other, but they were unable to claim the trophy.

While Inter's celebrations showed what the success meant to them, Allegri was philosophical yet frustrated by the last-gasp nature of the Nerazzurri's win.

"This was a real game tonight," he is quoted as saying by Sky Sport Italia. "It was a good test for us to see where we're at.

"They boys played a really good game, unfortunately football seems to have been invented by the devil, and five seconds from the end we committed an error.

"We played against the strongest team in Serie A, we had several chances and conceded few. We could have avoided the two goals and done better at the beginning, in the first 10 minutes, when they had the upper hand, but then the team played well technically.

"It is a burning defeat – losing five seconds from the end and seeing the others celebrate hurts. I have nothing to blame,

"Now, awareness and anger must enter us to continue well in the league, the Coppa Italia and the Champions League.

"We have to look on the bright side: the kids are physically better and growing. Tonight did not go well, but now let's think about Serie A."

Massimiliano Allegri says he will need "a year or two" to make Juventus Serie A title contenders ahead of Sunday's crunch clash at Roma.

Juve boss Allegri won five consecutive league titles during his previous spell at the club, but took on a rebuilding job when he returned to Turin last May.

The Bianconeri are fifth in the table ahead of their trip to the Eternal City, 11 points adrift of leaders Inter and the champions have a game in hand.

Allegri reiterated that he will need time to make Juve a huge force once again.

"I came here knowing that this year we needed to start changing the team, [in order to] be back challenging for the title in a year or two," Allegri said.

"We could have done better so far, but it's a matter of experience, it's normal to pay for our mistakes.

"In football, things don't miraculously change in a short time."

Juve are three points ahead of Roma and Allegri is expecting a huge battle with Jose Mourinho's side.

"Tomorrow will be an important match," he continued. "Roma have excellent individuals and a coach capable of preparing them in the best possible way. Competitiveness and technique will be key.

"Against Napoli we expected to win and get within two points of them, coming from a positive period, but we still kept the gap unchanged. We need to improve the quality of our passes, but we are growing. January will be important.

"We are working to improve our game. We want to reach our Champions League goal, and then there are still many other ambitions.

"To win, you need to have quality as well as technique, and it is only with experience that you learn that."

Allegri will be absent from the touchline for the encounter with Roma, after being handed a one-match ban and a €10,000 fine by the Italian Football Federation following a furious outburst at referee Simone Sozza at the end of the 1-1 draw with Napoli on Thursday. 

Juve have the opportunity to win three consecutive league games against the Giallorossi for the first time since 2014.

Juventus manager Massimiliano Allegri has dismissed agent Mino Raiola's suggestion that Matthijs de Ligt was ready to move on, saying the defender's next step is "to score goals".

Raiola claimed on Sunday that the centre-back was ready for a new step and suggested that the player shares the same view.

However, the 22-year-old has been performing well this term despite Juventus' struggles, with the Bianconeri seventh in Serie A, 12 points behind league leaders Inter.

Allegri was dismissive when asked about the agent's comments ahead of Juventus' clash with Cagliari on Tuesday, focusing instead on how the defender can improve and help the team.

"The step is to score goals tomorrow!" Allegri said in his pre-match press conference on Monday.

"I didn't hear the interview. I can only say that in [the 2-0 win over] Bologna he made two interventions as a great defender. He can still grow like all players."

De Ligt has been a regular fixture in Juve's defence this term, starting 13 times in 18 Serie A games and is becoming a dominant force in the air, competing for the most aerial duels per 90 minutes in the side (4.71) and winning 2.99 of them – also a club high.

Allegri is also still waiting for star forward Paolo Dybala to officially pen new terms, with the 28-year-old out of contract at the end of this season, and confirmed that the club plan to be active in the transfer window ahead of next season.

"I only know that there was a meeting the other day," Allegri continued. "I did not speak, I do not know the developments. It's an important contract.

"We have to work [in the transfer market], we have five months to do it. We have to be concentrated and be calm."

Massimiliano Allegri was pleased with Juventus' improved "attitude" as they ran out 2-0 winners over Bologna at Stadio Renato Dall'Ara on Saturday.

The Bianconeri were held to a 1-1 draw by Venezia in their last Serie A outing, but they cruised to all three points against Sinisa Mihajlovic's side thanks to goals in each half from Alvaro Morata and Juan Cuadrado.

Juve have now kept five clean sheets in Serie A since November – a joint-record among the top five European leagues in this period, level with Inter.

The performance was a marked improvement from the one at Venezia, and Allegri wants plenty more of that from his sixth-placed team as they bid to climb the table.

"Everyone collaborated when defending, which is how it ought to be," he told DAZN. "Compared to Venezia, we had a better attitude from the start, but we need to do more going forward.

"Bologna have a lot of quality, so it's natural they were going to have some chances. We did well here, but cannot lower our guard now, as there are many head-to-head clashes coming up in January before the Champions League resumes.

"It is a good result that keeps us in the running for fourth place, but we mustn't lower our guard now. It's a long journey, with many young and inexperienced players. We knew from the start it would not be easy to finish in the top four or challenge for the Scudetto.

"We've got one game left in 2021, then we look forward to these exciting clashes in January."

 

Midfielder Arthur was replaced after 61 minutes by Manuel Locatelli, with the former Barcelona man looking less than impressed with the decision.

Allegri expressed no regrets over the call and had some words of advice for the Brazil international.

"We still need to improve our reading of the game and various moments of the match, for instance just before half-time Arthur made this vertical pass when it was the time to hold on and control the possession," he explained.

"It's different at Barcelona; he was in a three-man midfield and not accustomed to sitting in front of the defence.

"He also is used to taking a lot more touches than we do here. I think if he plays in front of the defence with the right mentality and his technique, he can do well.

"His head was wobbling as he ran. He seemed tired so I took him off."

Massimiliano Allegri insisted there is cause for optimism at Juventus as he demanded a strong finish to the year and ruled out a desperate transfer plunge.

Juventus travel to face Bologna on Saturday before wrapping up 2021 with a home game against Cagliari on Tuesday.

They will resume with games against Napoli and Roma in January, a testing opening to the year for a Juventus side who have spluttered through the season so far.

There were high hopes of a Scudetto tilt when Allegri returned to Turin in the close season after the failed experiment of having rookie coach Andrea Pirlo in charge of the team last term.

Rather than challenge for top spot, Juventus head into the latest round of games in seventh place, already 12 points adrift of leaders Inter. Allegri won five Scudetti with Juve in his first spell in charge, but there is ground to make up this time.

Asked what light there might be at the end of the tunnel, Allegri told a news conference on Friday: "I see it, even if at the moment we are lagging behind in the standings.

"We need to work to improve. I am very happy with the choice I made. In this squad there are players with little experience of winning, and it takes time to train them.

"I am sorry we have fewer points than we might have."

Pointing to a string of fixtures where Juventus under-performed this season, he added: "We can't only get two points from games with Verona, Udinese, Sassuolo, Empoli and Venezia; two out of 15 is very few."

Juventus are not looking to buy their way out of trouble, Allegri insisted.

His squad boasts plenty of quality, including several Euro 2020 winners, and it is about drawing the best performances from the resources he already has that is occupying Allegri.

"We talk to the club and evaluate every day, but the transfer market will not solve the goal problem," Allegri said. "The squad is excellent, but we need to improve."

He stressed his focus is not on a top-four finish and Champions League football, but rather on shorter-term objectives.

"In January we have to face Napoli and Roma, and they are two important steps," Allegri added. "We must be ready.

"We need to understand our mistakes and improve also on our goalscoring. We must do our best, and then play the second part of the season in the best possible way. We need to work with confidence, we still have 21 games to improve our position."

 

Juventus have won their last 10 Serie A games against Bologna, which bodes well for Saturday.

Indeed, Bologna's last home win over Juve in Serie A was back in November 1998.

There are signs of Juve sharpening up, having conceded just two goals in their last six league games and taken 13 points from a possible 18. Four clean sheets across that stretch is as many as they managed in their previous 29 Serie A matches.

Yet the goals are not flowing freely this season, with Juve managing just 23 from their opening 17 games, which is their lowest tally at this stage since 1999-2000 (22 goals).

Paulo Dybala, their top scorer with five Serie A goals, will miss the Bologna game after a recent knock. The last time Juventus had a leading scorer with five or fewer goals after the first 17 matches of a league season was in 1991-92, when Pierluigi Casiraghi had five. Juve still managed to finish as runners-up to Milan in that campaign.

Aaron Ramsey is another confirmed absentee, while Dejan Kulusevski could feature but Allegri said the winger "doesn't have 90 minutes in his legs" after surgery to resolve a sinusitis problem that affected his ability to eat, meaning he has lost weight.

Federico Chiesa and Danilo are also sidelined for now, with question marks over the availability of several others, including Giorgio Chiellini and Manuel Locatelli.

Massimiliano Allegri has urged Juventus to "play ugly" after his side dropped two points in Saturday's 1-1 Serie A draw with Venezia.

Juve had won three successive matches in all competitions without conceding ahead their trip to Stadio Pier Luigi Penzo, where they opened the scoring through Alvaro Morata.

However, the Bianconeri wasted a good chance to double their lead through Juan Cuadrado before half-time and were made to pay 10 minutes into the second period.

Former Torino man Mattia Aramu guided a first-time shot past Wojciech Szczesny from range and Juve, who lost Paulo Dybala to an early injury, failed to muster a response.

The visitors finished with an expected goals (xG) return of 2.13 compared to Venezia's 0.54, but Juve were made to pay for a lack of cutting edge in front of goal.

Juve are now six points adrift of fourth-placed Atalanta, who face Hellas Verona on Sunday, and Allegri admitted his side need to improve in certain areas after their latest setback.

"It was a good first half, but then we had a 10- or 15-minute blackout before the Venezia goal," he told DAZN. 

"The same thing happened against Salernitana recently – we were lucky then not to concede as they hit the post – so it's something we clearly need to work on.

"We were under pressure, couldn't play the ball to feet anymore, so we should've had patience with one or two balls over the top to the strikers, but we didn't do that.

"We had to attack the space, force them into fouls and more yellow cards, but we threw away two points against a good Venezia side.

"At the start of the second half we were wandering about, giving the ball straight back. Sometimes we don't realise the game is getting 'ugly' and we don't read the moment. 

"Once that moment passed, we started playing again and pinned Venezia back into their own half, but the damage was done."

 

Allegri added: "We have players without a great deal of experience. The whole team was a bit sluggish after the restart.

"We can't seem to realise when it's the time to play pretty and those 10, 15 minutes we ought to play ugly, grit our teeth and push through."

Dybala hobbled off against Malmo in the Champions League on Wednesday and lasted just 12 minutes before being replaced against Venezia.

"We ran a risk, and it went badly," Allegri said. "He went off on Wednesday with a muscular issue; we hoped he was better now, but that was not the case."

Juventus, who had won 15 of their previous 17 league meetings with Venezia, could find themselves nine points off the Champions League places come the end of the weekend.

"We mustn't think about that," the coach said. "We threw away two points today, two points we should've brought home."

Massimiliano Allegri said Juventus are like an Easter Egg, "there's always a surprise" as the Bianconeri head coach called for more consistency amid a stuttering start to the Serie A season.

While Juventus qualified for the Champions League last 16 as group winners ahead of Chelsea, the Italian giants are fifth domestically and already 11 points off the pace.

Allegri's second spell in the Turin dugout has resulted in eight wins in 16 matches, with five defeats ahead of Saturday's trip to Venezia.

"[Saturday's] game is a high-risk one, if we interpret it in a certain way," Allegri told reporters.

"I think the players have understood the importance of this match. Therefore, we will certainly put on a good display.

"Let's see the game. It's always Easter for us, you know, we're like an egg, there's always a surprise inside. Let's hope it's a good one tomorrow [Saturday]."

Juventus have kept a clean sheet in four of their last five league games (W4 L1), as many as they had in the previous 29 matches in the competition.

Meanwhile, Juve have won, without conceding, in their last two Serie A away matches – they last kept a clean sheet in three such matches in a row in December 2018, under Allegri.

"Regarding [finishing in] first place [in the Champions League], it's a source of satisfaction, but we can't think about the Champions League right now," Allegri said.

"We have to think about the league, where we are clearly behind. Therefore we have to work on a daily basis and game after game to try and give some stability to our table.

"It is a matter of scoring percentages. We are clearly below the average, so we need to be more focused and clinical in front of the goal.

"At the moment, our scoring percentage in relation to the opportunities we create is too low for a club like Juventus. We need five chances to score a goal."

Arthur will not feature for Juventus against Venezia after the midfielder was dropped by Massimiliano Allegri for being late to training.

Juve have been underwhelming since Allegri's return for a second tenure and currently sit in fifth, nine points behind Serie A leaders Milan and seven behind Atalanta in the final Champions League qualification spot.

Allegri's team have, however, secured qualification for the next round of the Champions League by topping their group, while they were 2-0 victors over Genoa in their last league game.

As Juve prepare to visit Venezia, who have suffered 15 defeats against the Bianconeri in their last 17 Serie A meetings, Allegri confirmed Arthur will not be in the squad after the former Barcelona midfielder arrived late to training.

"It's simple, he arrived late the day before the game," Allegri told reporters at Friday's pre-match news conference. 

"So I don't think it's right and he won't be called up, but from Tuesday he'll be back with the team. These things happen."

Indeed, Arthur has only started twice for Juve this season across all competitions, making eight appearances in total for his 255 minutes with the likes of Manuel Locatelli, Adrien Rabiot and Rodrigo Bentancur preferred.

Arthur has only created four chances across those appearances, as he continues to form way below the standards he set at Camp Nou.

 

Aside from the Brazil international's misdemeanour, Allegri explained he is expecting a tough test from Venezia, who are just five points above the relegation zone.

"The next step is tomorrow's match, which I think is complicated," he added. "If I'm not mistaken, Venezia scored a lot at home: I think they didn't score a goal only with Inter. 

"However, Venezia plays and is a carefree team, then comes from a bad defeat against Verona. They had dominated the first half, tomorrow they play with Juventus and will try to make a historic feat. 

"We have to put ourselves on par with them, in terms of mentality and above all in terms of pace.

"Nobody has played on the pitch of this team, only Chiellini and I played in Venice. It's all strange because you arrive by ferry and then the field is narrower. 

"If you don't go there and play a certain game then you put yourself on a par with the others, you risk getting hurt. There are narrow fields where there are no spaces and the games become fast. 

"Just look at the results and goals scored by Venice who beat Rome and Fiorentina. Then they are a team that plays football well and creates a lot. I congratulate [Paolo] Zanetti. We have to play an important match."

Massimiliano Allegri is "worried" about Juventus' second-half display in their 1-0 win over Malmo that helped clinch top spot in Champions League Group H.

The Italian side saw off Malmo in Wednesday's contest at the Allianz Stadium thanks to a first-half header from Moise Kean.

That fifth win from six group matches ensured Juve finished two points above holders Chelsea, who were pegged back late on in a thrilling 3-3 draw with Zenit.

Despite securing one of the seeded spots for Monday's last-16 draw, Allegri was not pleased with the way his side dropped off in the second half.

"We're happy to finish first; it shows that winning is not easy," he said at his post-match news conference. "But let's put the game aside and think about Venezia on Saturday.

"I'm worried because I didn't like the second half. But we go into the game with three wins without conceding a goal and on Saturday we play in a field where it is difficult to play.

"As for finishing top, it's like I said before – being first does not tell us who we will draw. Right now, the only concern is the match against Venezia."

With his match-winning header, Kean has now scored four goals in five Champions League starts across spells with Paris Saint-Germain (three goals) and Juventus (one).

He is only the second Italian aged 21 or under to score for Juve in the competition after Alessandro Del Piero, who netted eight times before turning 22.

Fellow youngster Koni de Winter also impressed as he became the youngest player to start a match for the Bianconeri in the Champions League at 19 years and 179 days.

Belgium Under-21s international De Winter played 71 minutes at right-back and had the fourth-most touches (78) of any Juve player on the field.

"He didn't play the whole game but I'm happy with him," Allegri said. "He's a technical player and can play central or full-back. He played with real personality today."

Juve have won six home Champions League games in a row for just the second time in the 21st century, having previously done so between December 2016 and October 2017.

Allegri's side are well off the pace domestically, however, and Leonardo Bonucci accepts his side cannot be considered among the favourites to win a third European Cup.

"It would be hypocritical to say that Bayern Munich, Chelsea, Real Madrid and Liverpool do not have something more than us," he said. 

"Whoever we draw, even if it's Paris Saint-Germain or Atletico Madrid, we need to arrive in the best possible form. We have to reach at least the quarter-finals this time."

Juventus head coach Massimiliano Allegri confirmed he will rotate his side against Malmo, though Paulo Dybala will start for the Bianconeri.

Juve have already secured qualification for the next round of the Champions League, level on 12 points with Chelsea at the top of Group H heading into the final matchday.

Allegri's side, though, were crushed 4-0 by Thomas Tuchel's reigning European champions last time out, the Bianconeri's heaviest defeat in the competition and second-heaviest defeat in European Cup/Champions League history.

Chelsea visit Zenit on Wednesday and Juve host Malmo, who have won just one of their last eight meetings with Italian opposition in Europe's premier competition, but Allegri confirmed he would make mass changes despite top spot being up for grabs.

"Tomorrow, [Matteo] Perin, [Daniele] Rugani, Alex Sandro and [Adrien] Rabiot will play," Allegri told reporters at Tuesday's pre-match news conference. 

"We will see how [Moise] Kean is doing after he took a hit on Sunday. [Mattia] De Sciglio is back and I hope to give him a few minutes. We have to close the group well to prepare for the league match [at Venezia on Saturday].

"Arthur is fine and we'll see tomorrow morning because I have [Dejan] Kulusevski out and we only have [Federico] Bernardeschi as a winger. Let's see if we can play with three midfielders."

Allegri also confirmed that talisman Dybala, who has been directly involved in seven goals in as many Champions League appearances, would start after scoring in consecutive league games against Salernitana and Genoa.

"Paulo is fine, he'll be available tomorrow and he doesn't need to rest," Allegri added. "He's been out for a long time and he needs to play."

Asked whether finishing first or second in the group would make a difference for the next round of the competition, Allegri responded: "Apart from Liverpool, City and Bayern Munich the other things are still to be seen.

"We need to be lucky in the draw. It is important to have passed this round then let's see who gets us."

Juve are 11 points behind Serie A leaders Milan and seven behind Atalanta in the final Champions League qualification spot but Allegri insisted he is not concerned about being behind the pace at this point.

"When we win we are better, we train better, we are more serene," he continued. "We play and train to win all the games. And when we win the games, we work more peacefully, which is the most important thing.

"We take one step at a time. In the league we are behind, the four in front are travelling at an impressive rate. We can only try to win as many games as possible and hope that they falter in front but right now they are not failing."

Massimiliano Allegri acknowledged Juventus have to sharpen up in front of goal following their 2-0 Serie A win over toothless Genoa on Sunday.

Juventus were in dominant form at Allianz Stadium – tallying 27 shots – but a combination of superb goalkeeping from Genoa's Salvatore Sirigu and wasteful finishing ensured the scoreline did not truly reflect the hosts' superiority.

Such was Juve's dominance, Genoa finished the game with an expected goals return of zero after failing to register a single shot – the club are yet to score in the four games since Andriy Shevchenko was named head coach.

It was the first time Juve have not faced a shot in a game in Serie A since Opta started collecting such data in 2004.

Sirigu's 10 saves was the joint-most made by a goalkeeper in a single match in the top five European leagues this season, with Allegri accepting his side need to be more ruthless.

"I think we wanted to reinforce our position when it comes to percentage of scoring opportunities converted into goals," the Juve head coach jokingly told DAZN. "We're the worst in Serie A, I think, so wanted to consolidate those statistics!

"I enjoyed watching the team play this evening, as I have done in other games, even when we lost. We can only improve our effectiveness in front of goal, that’s for sure."

Allegri was involved in a heated exchange of words with forward Alvaro Morata when he was hauled off for Moise Kean in the 73rd minute, moments after receiving a yellow card for dissent.

The Juve boss did not expand on the specifics of their row, but said the Spain international was brought off for his own good.

"He was booked and he was continuing to argue and so I preferred to take him off," added Allegri.

"It's disappointing as Alvaro had played well and so did the whole team."

The victory was Allegri's 250th in Serie A (150th with Juventus), making him just the second coach to reach that landmark in the competition in the three-points-per-win era, after Carlo Ancelotti (275).

It marked Juve's fourth win in five Serie A games, yet they are still seven points adrift of fourth-placed Atalanta.

Allegri is not throwing the towel in yet, though, insisting Juve will keep fighting on all fronts this season.

"At this moment, we are fifth along with Fiorentina," he said. "It was important to win today; the top four are doing very well and currently deserve their positions. I don't know what will happen at the end of the season, if things will change.

"We have our objectives, in Serie A, the Champions League and the Coppa Italia, so we'll get there step by step, one game at a time."

Juve, who have already qualified for the Champions League knock-out stage, wrap up their Group H campaign at home to Malmo on Wednesday before a trip to Venezia in Serie A on Saturday.

Juventus head coach Massimiliano Allegri admits this season has not been an "easy time" for his side but that Tuesday's 2-0 win over Salernitana was about re-paying the club.

Allegri conceded the Bianconeri were out of the title race after Saturday's 1-0 home loss to Atalanta, with Juventus sitting well off the pace.

Juve claimed their seventh league win of the season at Salernitana to move up to seventh spot with 24 points from 15 games.

“It hasn’t been an easy time, we lost to Atalanta and could’ve scored more goals this evening," Allegri told reporters after the Salernitana win.

"I said Juventus have given us so much and it is time we have a sense of responsibility and give back to this club. We need to focus, because we’ve failed too many times against the smaller clubs this season.

"I told the lads, we had a lot of young players on the field today, so in these moments, they can suffer under the pressure. Fortunately, they held out well."

"We’re trailing in the league at the moment because we dropped points too many times. These players have talent, but let’s not forget that only with experience, by making mistakes and learning from them, understanding when it’s time to attack or defend, that is how they develop.

"The best thing at these moments is to simplify. We tried the passing moves in training yesterday and today I focused more on the mentality. The words Chiellini said are what I said to the team. We are the ones who now must give back to Juventus, the players, coach, the fans, everyone."

Allegri, who returned to the Turin job in May after Andrea Pirlo was dismissed following a disappointing 2020-21 campaign, called for patience.

“Naturally, we’re going to have ups and downs. I am still getting to know the players, they are getting to know me, and we play every three days," Allegri said.

"We achieved the first target by progressing in the Champions League, now we should have a little more time to work in training.

“Things change, people come and go, but Juventus remain and will always remain. Life goes in cycles, it has to be accepted as a challenge. I accepted this challenge knowing it was difficult, because it’s impossible to win more than nine years in a row, surely?

"Now we must have the responsibility of being at Juventus and the ambition to aim as high as possible."

Massimiliano Allegri has reiterated his belief that Juventus cannot be expected to challenge for the Serie A title this season, insisting a sense of realism is required.

On the back of a 4-0 hammering at the hands of Chelsea in the Champions League, Juve slumped to a 1-0 defeat to Atalanta in Serie A on Saturday.

Paulo Dybala hit the crossbar late on, but Duvan Zapata's strike proved decisive for Atalanta, who won a league game at Juve for the first time since October 1989.

The defeat leaves Juve eighth, and they could be 14 points adrift of leaders Napoli and second-placed Milan by the time the weekend is up.

It marked a third home loss of the campaign for Juve, matching the total number of defeats at the Allianz Stadium across the entirety of 2020-21.

Juve are also seven points off the top four, and Allegri – perhaps risking the ire of the Bianconeri faithful – has claimed a Champions League qualification push is the best the 36-time champions can hope for.

Allegri told DAZN: "I think it's a very good squad, [although] there are moments when we struggle to score goals.

"But people said at the start that this was the strongest squad that simply had to win the Scudetto, and I always noted that was inaccurate.

"We are here to challenge for the top four. I cannot complain to my players after this performance; I can only congratulate their efforts, then the rest is down to those of you who talk for a living.

 

"I think we must be realistic. If we are in this position after 14 games, it means this is what we are worth right now. There's a long way to go, but in terms of performance, I only saw us get it really wrong against Verona, Sassuolo and Empoli.

"Once we are realistic, we can take the pressure off and work better in a calmer environment. All we can do is try to get the best out of ourselves.

"We are Juventus and people seem to think that means we must automatically be Scudetto favourites. What we need to do is keep working, try to calm down and score some more goals. At this moment, we are struggling to score and, in my view, it's because we have lost that sense of calm and confidence.

"There's no point thinking of ifs and buts. We have to start from scratch, put everything behind us and be prepared to fight it out on level terms with Salernitana [on Tuesday], then add our quality on top."

Juve had 15 attempts against Atalanta, but only two hit the target. Besides Dybala's late free-kick, visiting goalkeeper Juan Musso was not truly troubled.

"We don't make the most of the chances we create. Atalanta had only one shot on goal from our error, and it's the goal that counts," Allegri said.

"There is some anxiety, the players are hasty and rush things, but we must keep working on the performances and try to win games to get that confidence and calm back."

Massimiliano Allegri called for calm and patience after Juventus' mixed start to the Serie A campaign ahead of their clash with Atalanta.

The Bianconeri, who were thrashed 4-0 by Chelsea in midweek Champions League action, sit eighth in the league, 11 points adrift of early leaders Napoli and Milan.

Juve have also lost two of their first six home Serie A games for the first time since 1980-81.

However, over the last nine Italian top-flight matches, only the top two Milan (22) and Napoli (20) have picked up more points than Juve (19).

Despite that upturn in form, Allegri insisted the Bianconeri faithful must stay patient while his team continue to develop in his second tenure.

"The president asked me to return to work with the club to help Juventus return to being sustainable, obtaining results," Allegri told reporters on Friday. 

"We will put all our effort into making this happen, the team needs to work and it takes patience.

"We need to keep calm and continue working, the team is excellent. We have scored fewer goals than we would have liked and the numbers show it. 

"Football has evolved, but there is no escape from the goal difference: this is how championships are won.

"We have an important month to gain a few points. Tomorrow is not decisive, I think the most important matches will be the last six of the first round."

 

Allegri also took time to apologise to the fans following Wednesday's demolition by Chelsea, which was Juve's record Champions League defeat and second-worst in the European Cup/Champions League overall. 

"In London we lost a game and we're sorry, because we are Juventus and losing like this is not good," he added after Juve lost by four goals for the first time in 17 years in any competition.

"The match up to the 55th minute was balanced and we had a good first half, then after the second goal we lost our way, and this must not happen. 

"But we won the match we needed to win, the one in Turin against the European champions.

"Atalanta are also doing well in the Champions League where we hope all the Italians will qualify. Playing against them is always complicated, they are a physical team and we have to be attentive."

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