Massimiliano Allegri claimed Juventus have rediscovered the desire to defend after triumphing 1-0 against local rivals Torino on Saturday.

Juve had to rely on Manuel Locatelli's late strike to secure all three points in the Derby della Mole as the Bianconeri kept their first clean sheet in 21 Serie A games.

Only in 1955 did Juve go longer without a top-flight clean sheet but that run finally ended as Allegri's side secured bragging rights with their fourth consecutive win in all competitions.

The winning streak has put an end to Juve's early-season struggles, at least temporarily, and Allegri pinpointed his team's desire to defend as a primary reason for their resurgence in form.

"After the break for international duty, we discovered the desire to defend when we needed to defend and attack when we needed to attack," Allegri told DAZN post-match.

"It would’ve been disappointing not to win a game after that performance which, after the first half against Milan, I feel was our best of the season."

 

Juve combined experience with youth at the back as Giorgio Chiellini, who equalled Gaetano Scirea as the player with the fourth-most Serie A appearances for the Bianconeri (377), partnered Matthijs de Ligt.

Allegri stated before the season that players such as De Ligt and Dejan Kulusevski were too young to be key figures, however, the head coach believes his younger players can learn from the experience around them.

"It’s a matter of experience," he continued.

"De Ligt is a good player, despite being 22 years old, and let’s not forget he came from a different type of football, so in Italy he needs to improve his reading of the situations and his aggression in marking.

"He's coming off good performances and can only improve. The same goes for Kulusevski, we have talented young players and are working to improve them individually.

"They have the advantage of playing with team-mates like Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci."

Massimiliano Allegri warned Torino will be preparing for the "match of their lifetime" against Juventus in Saturday's Serie A clash.

After opening their campaign without a win in four league games, Juve finally picked up a victory against Spezia before defeating Sampdoria to string together back-to-back 3-2 triumphs.

Federico Chiesa then inspired Juve against Chelsea as he fired in the fastest second-half goal in Champions League history, claiming a 1-0 win as Allegri's resurgent players continue to turn around their season around.

However, the Bianconeri have conceded in each of their last 20 top-flight games – only conceding more consecutively in 1955 (21) – and Allegri warned that local rivals Torino could prove tougher opponents than Chelsea.

"For Torino this will be like the match of a lifetime," Allegri told Friday's pre-match news conference ahead of the key away match.

"It's the derby and they're preparing for it to the maximum. It will be even more difficult than Wednesday.

"On paper, we have five fewer points than expected. We have to recover them at every step.

"On Saturday we have to improve our position in the table a bit more. The Derby della Mole is the perfect opportunity, also with the fans returning to the stadium."

Juventus have lost only one of their last 30 Serie A meetings with Torino, but the pair meet on the same number of points (eight) for the first time since October 2015.

Despite earning a well-deserved three points against Chelsea on Wednesday, Allegri is expecting Torino to provide a different challenge.

"On Wednesday night we felt the closeness of the stadium that had great enthusiasm and passion," he continued. "It filled me with joy, both for the team and for the atmosphere.

"Against Chelsea, the game went well in a certain way. We have another one on Saturday. We will have to be good at finding spaces.

"[Ivan] Juric has given great quality to Torino. They're a team that gives away very little. We will have to be switched on and give as good as we get.

"Let's try to bring home a win in order to go into the international break in the best possible way. Let's make the most of the positive energy of the moment."

Juventus head coach Massimiliano Allegri highlighted the importance of beating Chelsea after his underperforming side topped the Champions League holders to preserve their 100 per cent record in Group H.

Federico Chiesa scored the earliest second-half goal in Opta's Champions League records as Juve overcame Chelsea 1-0 in Turin on Wednesday.

Juve came into the blockbuster showdown with just two wins from their first six Serie A fixtures this season, though they did ease past Malmo in their Champions League opener.

It is only the fourth time Juve have won their first two matches of the Champions League group phase without conceding a single – the last two (this season and 2018-19) have been under Allegri.

Allegri revelled in the result as Juve continue to grow in his second stint at the Italian giants, having replaced Andrea Pirlo in the off-season.

"It was important to get the three points, this victory is a step forward to pass the group stage," Allegri told reporters.

"It is also important for the lads because they won against the European champions. This victory is good for all of us as it boosts the morale of the team.

"We played well against a very physical team; the team was very organised defensively. We did not concede much, we had also some chance and in some moments we could do better when managing the ball.

"This helps us understand that you also achieve big objectives through this kind of games."

Juve are unbeaten in their last four Champions League encounters against Chelsea (W2 D2), winning their last two without conceding.

The Bianconeri have won 12 of their last 13 Champions League group-stage games (L1), winning each of the last four without conceding a goal.

Allegri added: "There are no turns. It is a game that allows us to go to six points and certainly look at the champions with more optimism to try to go through. Then the championship is another thing.

"The team understood: because when you manage to have possession of the ball, to have dominion over the field, then we keep the ball. When you have an opponent who still does not allow it, it is normal that you have to adapt and you have to play a defensive game." 

Juve finished the match with just 26.9 per cent possession and passing accuracy of 74.6 per cent, while they mustered only one shot on target.

After nullifying Chelsea star Romelu Lukaku, Juve and Italy defender Leonardo Bonucci said: "I see it more as a game that should serve as a lesson. But as mentioned it was a bit of matches we were looking for that attitude that we had lost a bit in recent years and that had only been seen in fits and starts.

"It must be the demonstration, it must be an example, it must not be the exception. The mental intensity and the desire to be a team on every ball: that made the difference tonight because the qualities are there.

"Sometimes maybe we are technically wrong too much, but with this mentality, with this intensity that we had tonight, the victories in certain games come as a consequence."

Chelsea looked slow, tired and lacked freedom in their defeat to Juventus on Wednesday, according to Thomas Tuchel. 

Despite having over 70 per cent possession, the Champions League holders went down 1-0 to Juve after Federico Chiesa scored the 10 seconds into the second half at Allianz Stadium. 

It was the earliest second-half Champions League goal in Opta records and made Chiesa the first Italian to score in four successive starts in the competition for Juve since club legend Alessandro Del Piero in 1997.

The Blues managed just one shot on target – a tame first-half attempt from Romelu Lukaku – across a disappointing defeat that gave Massimiliano Allegri's side the upper hand in Group H. 

"Of course, it is impossible at this kind of level to concede a goal like this in the first seconds of the second half. When you know what's coming and you have defensive organisation like we had, it's normally at all times possible to defend it. We got punished for it," Tuchel told BT Sport. 

"I think we started not sharp enough. We had possession but in the first 12-15 minutes we could have harmed them much more, we could have been much sharper and putting the rhythm up high. 

"There were so many spaces, we could've put many more dangerous balls into their box and asked more dangerous questions. We had a lot of ball possession, we had many high recoveries. 

"We had two crucial ball losses where we almost gave goals away. You cannot have this in this level – it was without any pressure. 

"We struggled to create our own rhythm because they were so deep and passive. We struggled to find our intensity. it's not an easy thing to do to find the spaces, to know exactly where to accelerate and maybe accept ball losses but only in the last 20 metres. But we were lacking runs behind the last line. 

"We were so good yesterday in training and not good enough, not free enough today. I don't know why. It was a thing for the whole team. I felt us a bit slow, tired, mentally slow for decision-making. It's a strange one to analyse."

Chelsea have now lost each of their past five away Champions League games against Italian sides and suffered successive defeats in all competitions for just the second time during Tuchel's tenure. 

Juve appear to have finally turned a corner since Allegri's return, meanwhile. They are 10th in Serie A but now sit three points clear at the top of Group H and have won four of their past five matches. 

"Sailors always find their way out when they are in a storm," Allegri said to Prime Video. 

"It was a good match against the European champions. Technically, we could have played better, but we did not suffer a lot and missed a couple of counter-attacks. 

"Two games, six points, zero goals conceded. It's another step towards qualification – a good step forwards." 

Giorgio Chiellini is urging Juventus not to focus all of their attention on Romelu Lukaku when they face Chelsea on Wednesday, also highlighting the qualities of Jorginho, who he is backing to win this year's Ballon d'Or.

Juve made a winning start to their Champions League campaign two weeks ago with a 3-0 victory over Malmo, though they will expect a rather trickier challenge as Chelsea visit Turin on matchday two.

The contest will see Chiellini renew hostilities with Lukaku, their pair having enjoyed some bruising tussles during the Belgian's time in Serie A with Inter.

But the Chelsea player Chiellini seems to hold in the highest regard is Jorginho, a player he featured alongside as Italy won Euro 2020 earlier this year.

That success coupled with Chelsea's Champions League win in 2020-21 saw Jorginho win the UEFA Men's Player of the Year award in August, and Chiellini believes he deserves to add the Ballon d'Or to his collection as well.

Asked about the prospect of going up against Lukaku again, Chiellini said: "Lukaku is a great player, we will have to be careful.

"It will be important not to allow the qualities of champions like Lukaku to come out. He's a great player, whom they paid a lot for. He's not there by chance, but maybe it's a bit diminishing to talk about just the meeting of me and Lukaku – it's not just Lukaku.

"Chelsea have many champions: let's think of our great friend Jorginho, who is the 'lighthouse' of this team.

"I truly hope he can win the Ballon d'or because he's a good friend of mine and it's also an award that would feel like it's mine as an Italian and a player who was involved in the [Euro 2020] win."

Jorginho has not always had it easy at Chelsea, with many critics sceptical of his suitability to the club and English football in general, but Chiellini believes the fact he has outlasted both Maurizio Sarri and Frank Lampard at Stamford Bridge is telling.

"I always thought he was a good player but after two or three sessions in the national team under [Roberto] Mancini, I realised just how good he is," Chiellini continued.

"What a top player he is. He maybe doesn't have great physical qualities, but the real difference is in his head, his mentality, and I was really happy because many said he could only play with Sarri.

"Instead, two other coaches arrived at Chelsea and then in the national team. Wherever he goes he plays as a regular, so I'm happy for him and he definitely deserves an award, so I truly hope he wins the Ballon d'Or."

Juve coach Massimiliano Allegri was questioned on the form of his own midfielders, specifically Adrien Rabiot.

The Frenchman has only impressed in spells since joining from Paris Saint-Germain two years ago and Allegri clearly wants more – though he is adamant Rabiot has the capacity to improve.

"It's similar to [Federico] Bernardeschi," Allegri said. "The difference among players is when they come to Juve – if a big club chooses them, there's obviously a reason, but the difference in their career depends on mentality, their specific objective in helping the team and the capacity to improve, being determined in training sessions, scoring, defending.

"These are the elements that make the difference. How many good, technical players haven't been able to explode in their careers because maybe there was something missing?

"Rabiot is a player, if I was him, I'd be very angry with myself because he's a player who's been here two years, how many goals he scored? Ten [six] in two seasons? That's not acceptable. He needs to improve in order to get much better and I'm pretty sure he'll be able to do that this year."

Massimiliano Allegri confirmed Paulo Dybala and Alvaro Morata will miss Juventus' Champions League clash with Chelsea following injuries suffered against Sampdoria.

The Bianconeri's second successive Serie A win came at a cost as both Dybala and Morata were ruled out of their Group H showdown with the reigning European champions.

Dybala was on target with the opening goal as Juve moved up to ninth in Serie A, eight points behind leaders Milan, with a 3-2 defeat of Sampdoria.

Yet Allegri did not appear overly concerned by the absence of the two forwards.

"We'll see how to play against Chelsea without Dybala and Morata," he said.

"It's not a decisive game anyway. The key games for the qualification are those against Zenit."

Manuel Locatelli told DAZN of Dybala's injury: "I hope it's nothing serious. He is our great champion and we hope he'll be back as soon as possible."

It was an unconvincing win for a Juve team who have not looked like title contenders in the first season of Allegri's second spell in charge.

Leonardo Bonucci's penalty doubled their lead before Maya Yoshida pulled one back prior to half-time.

Locatelli restored Juve's two-goal lead but Antonio Candreva's 83rd-minute goal set up a tense finish.

"We are all responsible, we all know what we have to do on the field and to help each other out. The fundamental thing today was to win," Locatelli said.

"What happens in the locker room stays there, we listen to what the coach says and must get our way back up the table."

Paulo Dybala left the pitch in tears after scoring the opening goal as Juventus beat Sampdoria 3-2 in Massimiliano Allegri's 400th Serie A game in charge.

Dybala showed his class with a great finish but was forced off midway through the first half three days before a Champions League clash with Chelsea, having seemingly sustained a muscular problem.

Leonardo Bonucci doubled Juve's lead from the penalty spot, but Maya Yoshida's header gave Samp hope just before half-time at the Allianz Stadium on Sunday.

Manuel Locatelli's first goal for the Bianconeri gave them breathing space and although Antonio Candreva's strike set up a tense finale, the Turin giants secured a back-to-back Serie A home wins – and their first at home this season – in boss Allegri's landmark match.

Dybala put Juve in front with a fine finish in the 10th minute, rifling into the bottom-right corner with his left foot from outside the penalty area after Locatelli had set him up.

Alvaro Morata failed to beat Emil Audero when he went one-on-one with the Samp goalkeeper after being slipped in by Dybala, who was the best player on the pitch before he was replaced by Dejan Kulusevski just 22 minutes in.

Bonucci took the armband from an emotional Dybala and he doubled Juve's lead in the 43rd minute after Nicola Murru handled Federico Chiesa's shot.

The Bianconeri had only just finished celebrating when Yoshida rose to nod in Antonio Candreva's inviting cross to half the deficit just before the break.

Locatelli restored Juve's two-goal advantage 12 minutes into the second half, though, slotting Kulusevski's cutback into the empty net to punish Omar Colley for a terrible pass inside his own area.

Audero showed sharp reflexes to palm over Rodrigo Bentancur's rasping drive and Morata failed to round off a swift break when he fired wide.

Candreva finished clinically with his left foot against his former club when Adrien Silva picked him out seven minutes from time, but Juve held on to secure three much-needed points.

Massimiliano Allegri declared "I like criticism" as he embraces the challenge at Juventus ahead of his 400th Serie A game in charge against Sampdoria on Sunday.

Juve are in the bottom half of the table after picking up only five points from as many games at the start of the season.

The Bianconeri came from behind to secure their first Serie A victory of the campaign on Wednesday, beating Spezia 3-2.

Critics have rounded on the Turin giants early in Allegri's second reign as Juve boss, but the 54-year-old is embracing the opportunity to turn things around.

He said during a press conference on Saturday: "I came back here to help a club I am very attached to win again. I like criticism, our situation is a challenge and I love challenges. With calm, we will get there."

Allegri added: "When I hear the criticisms, and I read everything, they are interesting. Some are constructive and I think about it, some I need to understand that I have to do the opposite."

 

Juve have won four consecutive matches against Samp and have beaten them six times in row at home by an aggregate score of 19-2.

The Genoa club are level on points with the Bianconeri and were hammered 4-0 at Napoli last time out. 

Allegri hopes the victory over Spezia has given his side the confidence to claim back-to-back wins in his landmark game, with a Champions League showdown against holders Chelsea to come next Wednesday.

He said: "We're missing the results, because when you win, your self-esteem rises, you work better. So we have to think about beating Sampdoria tomorrow.

Allegri continued: "We will try to play well and win the game, the first at home. Then we will think about Chelsea. There will be changes and we need to recover energy. 

"There are many players who have played six or seven games in a row and tomorrow we will see [what team to select]."

Adrien Rabiot misses out due to an ankle injury, while Allegri revealed goalkeeper Mattia Perin will play.

Juventus captain Giorgio Chiellini scoffed at the lack of patience afforded to the Bianconeri following their slow start to the Serie A season under new head coach Massimiliano Allegri.

After opening their 2021-22 Serie A campaign without a win in four matches, Juve finally opened their account by edging Spezia 3-2 midweek, moving the Italian giants out of the relegation zone.

Juve have just five points from five games to start the season under Allegri, who returned to Turin to replace Andrea Pirlo after being dethroned by rivals Inter last term.

In a period of change following Cristiano Ronaldo's exit, veteran Juve defender Chiellini bemoaned the impatience.

"We must be able to keep the ship steady in a stormy sea," Italy international Chiellini told Sky Sport Italia ahead of Sunday's match against Sampdoria.

"We'll see if we'll come out of it a little dented or with full sails, but we will arrive at the port.

"As with everything, it takes time to find a balance. When there are big shocks, environmental like an earthquake or not, it takes a little time to settle and to restart.

"Unfortunately, in the world of today, there's no patience."

Juve have gained a point from their two home games this term and last went three home fixtures without a victory at the start of the 2015-16 season, also under Allegri.

Chiellini and Juventus, who have allowed eight goals in five league games this campaign, have conceded a goal in each of their last 19 Serie A contests. Only in 1955 have they had a longer run without a clean sheet in the league (21).

The visit of Sampdoria will be Allegri's 400th game in charge in Serie A – the Juve boss has claimed 243 wins in the competition, at least 59 more than any other coach since his debut in Italy's top flight in 2008-09.

Jose Mourinho praised his Roma players for holding on with 10 men to claim a 1-0 win against Udinese that saw the Portuguese equal Massimiliano Allegri's record unbeaten home run in Serie A.

Tammy Abraham scored what proved to be the only goal of the game in Thursday's clash at Stadio Olimpico with a flicked finish nine minutes before half-time.

Roma struggled in the second half as they saw less of the ball than Udinese (47.4 per cent) and were out-shot seven to two, with Rui Patricio forced into a couple of saves.

The Giallorossi had to play the final stages a man light after Lorenzo Pellegrini was issued a second yellow card for catching Lazar Samardzic with his elbow, but they saw out their fourth victory in five league games this term.

That includes three successive wins at Stadio Olimpico under Mourinho, who is now 41 without defeat on home soil in the Italian top flight going back to his hugely successful tenure at Inter.

He is one short of taking the outright record in the three-points-per-win era (since 1994-95), with Allegri's previous benchmark set between September 2015 and September 2017 during his first spell in charge of Juventus.

Mourinho was pleased to pick up all three points against Udinese and move up to fourth in the standings, but he acknowledged his side dropped off in the second half of the contest.

"We played well for about 35 minutes," he said at his post-match news conference. "We had total control of the game, 1-0 is little for what we did. In the second half we struggled a bit more, and they reacted.

"We had to suffer a bit. But we did so as a team. We played about six or seven minutes with a man less and fought hard for the three points."

 

Pellegrini's contentious dismissal means that he is set to miss Sunday's Derby della Capitale showdown with bitter rivals Lazio, but Mourinho suggested he intends to appeal against the decision.

"It was ridiculous. We had an educational meeting with the referee chiefs and the rules were explained for two hours," Mourinho said. "Then we get to the game and see a red like this.

"I can't say anything except that it was ridiculous. Football is and always will be football. You cannot change it into a non-contact sport."

Mourinho added to DAZN: "I don't know the legal mechanisms in Italian football, but if we can appeal, then we must try. I have many doubts that anyone could say that was a deserved second yellow card. 

"If there's a way of appealing this card, then we must do that and allow him to play on Sunday."

Roma have now scored 22 goals in all competitions this season, a tally that is bettered by only Bayern Munich (38), Manchester City and Borussia Dortmund (both 23) among clubs in Europe's top five leagues.

Abraham has been responsible for three of those and, with his strike against Udinese, became the first English striker to score a home goal in Serie A since Jay Bothroyd against Ancona with Perugia back in May 2004.

The recent signing from Chelsea has made a massive impact since joining, having also chipped in with a couple of assists, and he is grateful to have been made to feel so welcome in his new surroundings.

"I knew there was a lot of pressure with me coming in, but I love the fans, the staff, they make me feel like family from the first day and I need to repay them," he told DAZN.

"I came here to win, I love to win, the boys look to me, I have to give them confidence, and hopefully we'll continue getting results."

Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri has demanded his team win at last in Serie A as they bid to avoid their worst five-game start to a season for 66 years.

Allegri takes Juve to Spezia on Wednesday, having snatched just two points from his first four league games in charge, a far cry from what he was looking for on his return to the top job.

Juventus have only once begun a Serie A season without winning any of their opening five fixtures, and that was in the 1955-56 season.

This is the fourth time they have strung together four without a victory at the start of a campaign, and Allegri called on his players to make sure the wait goes on no longer.

"Our technical qualities will have to come out in the long run," Allegri said. "We have to win, and then we will begin to see things differently.

"At this moment, talking about long-term goals makes no sense, the only thing to do is to beat Spezia. We have to take it one step at a time."

Juventus looked like winning game four of their domestic campaign as Alvaro Morata gave them an early lead against Milan on Sunday, but Ante Rebic equalised late on to secure a 1-1 draw.

Consequently, Juve sat third-bottom heading into the midweek games and will face a Spezia side buoyed by a first win of the campaign at the weekend, away at Venezia.

 

Allegri returned to begin a second spell as head coach in the close season, replacing the sacked Andrea Pirlo, but it has been far from smooth sailing so far.

"Compared to the match against Milan there will be some changes," Allegri told a news conference, ahead of the trip to Spezia. "We're playing every three days and some players will have played six to seven matches in a row between the national team and Juventus. Spezia won in Venice by creating a lot of chances, they are a carefree team that play without excessive worries. Playing in their stadium is not easy."

Allegri said his team are "still making too many technical mistakes" and pointed to them failing to win a string of loose balls midway through the Milan game.

The "feverish" Giorgio Chiellini misses out for Juve, but Allegri confirmed Matthijs de Ligt and Federico Chiesa, substitutes against Milan, would start.

He wants to see more from Chiesa, who shone for Italy at Euro 2020 but has had a shaky start for his club this term.

In the second year of his loan from Fiorentina, Chiesa has played just 100 minutes and started only one domestic league game so far in 2021-22, creating two chances for others and having three shots, each of which went on target.

He awaits a first goal or assist in Serie A this season, having managed nine in each column last term.

"He must understand how to manage himself for 90 minutes, when to accelerate and when to brake," Allegri said. "And we all have to grow. So do I.

"You don't need to hammer the players. You need to understand what to do to grow. We are working together to reach important goals, both at the level of team results and personal growth."

Massimiliano Allegri accepted his share of the blame for Juventus' 1-1 draw with Milan, but also felt his players lacked focus as they slipped into the Serie A relegation zone.

Alvaro Morata put Juve ahead in Sunday's clash at the Allianz Arena inside four minutes with his side's earliest goal against Milan in Serie A since February 1996.

Juve were on top for the rest of the first half, but they dropped off after the interval and were punished by Ante Rebic's header 14 minutes from time.

The Bianconeri are winless in their opening four games to a league season for just the fourth time in their history and find themselves 18th in the 20-team division.

Allegri took off Morata, Juan Cuadrado and Paulo Dybala in a 13-minute period prior to Milan's leveller, with Moise Kean, Federico Chiesa and Dejan Kulusevski brought on.

And the experienced coach, who has one win from five matches in all competitions since returning to Turin, is annoyed that his side could not see out a much-needed victory.

"Tonight I'm left angry," he told DAZN. "The team played well in the first half and only conceded one long-range shot, but in the end we could have even lost the match.

"That's despite being in control until the equaliser. Unfortunately we lost attention and determination. We have to improve. 

"The thing you have to quickly learn is that in these games, the final moment you have to be tough. You have to remain concentrated, determined and focused.

"We know we have to play better, and that is part of the growth of some players. But I also made a mistake with the changes today – I should have brought defensive players on.

"The likes of Dybala and Morata perhaps could have made themselves more available when on the field, but the last 15 minutes is what makes me angry."

 

Allegri's side have already dropped seven points from winning positions this season, compared to 10 such points in the whole of 2020-21 under Andrea Pirlo.

Juve have now conceded in 18 successive Serie A games and could easily have shipped a second goal late on as Pierre Kalulu forced Wojciech Szczesny into a big save.

"Luckily the referee whistled when he did because otherwise we may have lost," Allegri said. "Nobody remembers the good performances because we lost two points in the end."

The draw – just the second in the last 25 league meetings between the sides – leaves Juventus eight points adrift of early pacesetters Inter and Milan in the top two.

Asked if his side are already out of the title race, six-time Scudetto-winning boss Allegri said: "It was important to take a positive result against Milan today.

"If they'd have won they would have pushed us further back. The draw leaves their advantage unchanged.

"The problem is that winning a game is one thing; winning a league is another. It means not conceding goals due to errors like we saw today.

"There were positives, mainly in the first half, but we should have suffered more and been ready to defend tooth and nail. You have to take the win even if it's ugly."

Massimiliano Allegri has reminded Matthijs de Ligt's critics that even Giorgio Chiellini had his struggles as a young player and is convinced the Dutchman has a long future ahead of him at Juventus despite Mino Raiola encouraging speculation.

De Ligt joined Juve on the back of Ajax's unlikely journey to the 2018-19 Champions League semi-finals, in which he played a vital role as he helped build moves from the back with his passing abilities but also proving a dominant physical presence despite his tender age.

His 0.45 headed shots on target every 90 minutes was the most of all defenders in the competition to play at least 270 minutes that season, while only four of them bettered his 4.2 aerial wins per game.

While De Ligt has not made quite the same use of his physicality at Juve, those strengths could lend themselves to a future in the Premier League, where he is thought to be admired by numerous clubs, with his agent Raiola suggesting on Saturday that the Dutchman may not see out the rest of his contract, which runs to 2024, at Juve.

Raiola's comments came after seeing De Ligt dropped for last week's 2-1 defeat at Napoli and playing in only one of the Netherlands' three recent World Cup qualifiers, with the centre-back yet to truly convince since signing two years ago.

 

The spotlight is very much on Juve's defence ahead of Sunday's clash with Milan, as they have conceded in each of their previous 17 league games, the third-longest run in club history and the worst currently across Europe's top five leagues.

But Allegri appears to retain belief in De Ligt, backing him for a long future at Juve.

"I've already said it before; De Ligt is 22 years old, he's very good, but when you arrive at Juve with an enthusiasm that overwhelms you, it's normal to lose some clarity," the Juventus head coach told reporters when asked about Raiola's comments.

"When he was signed, someone described him as a future Ballon d'Or winner, but it requires tranquillity. He was a 20-year-old boy who arrived at Juventus, a shirt that weighs heavy.

"Chiellini at 20 was like De Ligt, or maybe worse. Then at 28 he became a serious player.

"There is a path for everyone, players and coaches. De Ligt is still a young, good player, who can stay at Juve for many years, regardless of whether he plays one more or one less game."

Massimiliano Allegri claims Sunday's Serie A clash between Juventus and Milan is more important for the Rossoneri despite him overseeing a miserable start to 2021-22.

Allegri is three league matches into his second spell in Turin but there has been no sign of a honeymoon period, with Juve yet to win any of those matches.

They relieved a hint of pressure with a 3-0 Champions League win on Tuesday, though the good will from that victory will only last so long given it was against Malmo.

Failure to get off the mark on Sunday will leave Juve winless across their first four Serie A matches in a single season for only the fourth time, the most recent occasion being in 1961-62.

By contrast, Milan – who this season are in the Champions League for the first time since 2013-14 – have won all three of their Serie A games in 2021-22, with Stefano Pioli's men second only to Roma on goal difference.

Despite their differing starts to the season, Allegri insists Sunday's encounter is a bigger deal for Milan than Juve, and he also wanted to stress there is no reason to panic for their title hopes if Pioli's side do leave with a positive result.

"Tomorrow's game is more important for them than for us," Allegri told reporters, though he would not openly elaborate on why he felt this way. "That's what you have to say, otherwise I will help you too much."

On the title race, he added: "I believe there is no team that can crush the championship. Maybe I'm wrong.

"You can lose points, but you can also quickly recover them. We must not think that if we lose then we will be 11 points behind, we have to work thinking about making up for the ground that we lost at the beginning.

"I have always said that, the championships are won against the smaller teams. We don't know what tomorrow's result will be because the devil invented football: you can play well and still maybe you lose or draw.

 

"It's not that before Malmo we had become poor drunks and now we are phenomenal again. We need balance. You have to work and have the ambition to win.

"I have to be a coach, because the team goes out on the pitch, but I also have to hammer on the psychological aspect because Juve is a team that has to play not to win games, but to win championships.

"Everyone wins matches, all teams, but the championship will only be won by one. In the end, the team that was the best will win the championship."

Allegri's return after two years away understandably conjured up memories of Juventus' remarkable streak of nine successive Scudetti, with the 54-year-old in charge for five of them.

But he feels comparisons between the two distinctly different teams and eras are unhelpful.

"I have found a Juventus with different players," he continued. "We must not think of comparing Juve today with what it was in the past.

"This team has its own identity as well as individual characteristics of the players. You need to become a team by improving many things, in terms of personality, technique and patience in playing. But it's just a different Juve."

In a potential blow for Juve, Allegri confirmed Federico Chiesa is a doubt for Sunday's game.

The Italy international has been involved in six goals against Milan in Serie A, a haul he has bettered against no other team.

He also scored his only brace with Juventus in the Italian top-flight against the Rossoneri in January.

For so long, Juventus dominated Serie A and Milan. 

Juve won nine successive Scudetti before being dethroned by Inter last season. Gianluigi Buffon was involved in eight of them. 

But it's a period of change in Turin, where Wojciech Szczesny is well and truly under the microscope after an error-riddled start to the 2021-22 season. 

As Juve struggle defensively, form could hardly be more contrasting heading into Sunday's blockbuster showdown in the northwest of Italy. 

Milan have continued to be a solid defensive outfit, winning their opening three league fixtures, and the resurgent Rossoneri could strike an early dagger to the heart of the Old Lady.

 

Woeful Woj as Allegri tries to avoid unwanted record 

"I think Juventus will regret not signing Donnarumma for a long time." 

That was Mino Raiola – the agent of Paris Saint-Germain goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma – speaking to Rai Sport on Friday. Based on what has transpired so far, he is right. 

The star Italy goalkeeper had been tipped to swap Milan for Juve in the off-season before moving to the French capital on a free transfer. Juve must be shaking their heads after watching Szczesny's torrid start to the season under Massimiliano Allegri. 

Allegri has had his hands full since returning to Allianz Stadium after two seasons away, replacing Andrea Pirlo. The title-winning boss is trying to navigate the exit of superstar Cristiano Ronaldo. If the departure of the almost-irreplaceable Ronaldo was not hard enough, Szczesny has made life even more difficult. 

The former Arsenal keeper has been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons, his two howlers against Udinese and Napoli the catalyst for Juve's winless start to the campaign. 

The Bianconeri could go without a victory in their first four Serie A seasonal matches for the fourth time in their history, after 1961-62, 1955-56 and 1942-43. In those campaigns, Juve did not go on to win the title. They have never lost three of the first four Serie A games in a season. 

They have conceded five goals in three matches and are yet to keep a clean sheet domestically, shipping goals in each of their past 17 league games – only twice have Juve conceded in more consecutive Serie A fixtures (19 in 2010 and 21 in 1955). That 17-game run is the worst of its kind across the top-five European leagues since March. 

 

Szczesny's numbers do not make for pretty reading.

Since 2018-19, the Poland international has conceded 90 goals in 90 Serie A appearances with expected goals against (xGA) of 99.88, suggesting he should have let in nearly 10 goals more. For some comparison, Buffon's xGA-goals conceded difference – goals he prevented, in other words –was 2.62 from 17 matches, so Szczesny holds his own there.

The numbers do not get much better, though. A maligned figure from his days at Arsenal, Szczesny has shipped 99 goals in 107 Serie A games for Juve. Since 1994-95, his average of 0.93 goals conceded is worse than ex-Juve goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar (0.70 from 46 goals conceded in 66 games), Buffon (0.76 from 373 conceded in 489 matches), Michelangelo Rampulla (0.85 from 33 conceded in 39 fixtures) and Angelo Peruzzi (0.85 from 120 conceded in 141 appearances).

Szczesny – with a save percentage of 72 and an average of 2.49 stops per 90 minutes – has committed three errors leading to goals during his time with Juve in Serie A. Since 2004-05, only Buffon managed more (13), albeit in 391 games.

This season, Szczesny's expected goals against is 5.86 through three matches. Milan counterpart Mike Maignan's figure stands at 2.33.

When Milan refused to meet Donnarumma's demands, they wasted little time turning to Maignan, who had just led Lille to a shock Ligue 1 title after upstaging PSG.

Maignan has been a steady presence in Milan with a joint-league-high two clean sheets, while the France international tops the list in save percentage (90), well ahead of Szczesny (66.67).

 

Kjaer spearheading Milan back to summit

While Juve duo Leonardo Bonucci and Matthijs de Ligt lick their wounds, Simon Kjaer and Fikayo Tomori continue to flex their muscles at San Siro.

In the era of three points per win, Milan have won each of their first four Serie A seasonal games only twice: in 1995-96 under Fabio Capello and last season with Stefano Pioli at the helm. The Rossoneri won the title in 1996, while they finished second to Inter in 2020-21.

High-flying Milan are on the cusp of matching that feat thanks to the help of Kjaer and Tomori and perhaps even more than that as the resurgent powerhouse dream of a first Scudetto since 2011.

Kjaer and Tomori have formed an unlikely but rock-solid partnership at the heart of Milan's defence. Pioli's side have only conceded one goal to start the Serie A season. Since last May, Milan have the most clean sheets in the big five European leagues (seven in eight matches).

The pair's form has left captain Alessio Romagnoli sidelined and considering his future – not something you would have anticipated when Kjaer arrived following a brief spell at Atalanta, initially on loan in 2020.

Kjaer has come into his own in Milan, establishing himself as a key member on and off the pitch under Pioli, tallying 178 clearances in the league since January 2020 – a number only behind Torino's Bremer (219), Omar Colley of Sampdoria (214), Fiorentina star Nikola Milenkovic (205), ex-Viola centre-back German Pezzella (191) and Lazio's Francesco Acerbi (190) among defenders.

 

The 32-year-old Denmark international has also provided security in the air, with his 93 headed clearances the fourth most among defenders since January 2020, after Milenkovic (122), Bremer (119) and Colley (103).

"It happens a lot with defenders that they kind of find their own style later on. That has happened with Simon," former Denmark international Jesper Olsen told Stats Perform.

"You're playing at a top team and expected to do really well. We know your last game played doesn't count anymore, it's the next one. He just seems very settled."

Tomori, who completed a permanent switch from Champions League holders Chelsea in July after impressing on loan, scored the last time these two teams met – a 3-0 victory in Turin in May.

Milan have won two of their most recent three Serie A matches against Juventus, as many as in their previous 17 (D1 L14).

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