Three matchdays remain in Serie A, and yet there is plenty still to be decided at both ends of the table – not least which side will be crowned champions.

Milan occupy top spot in their quest for a first Scudetto since 2011, but fierce rivals Inter are just two points behind and arguably have an easier set of fixtures to conclude the campaign.

Napoli and Juventus are not officially out of the title race just yet, though they are seven and eight points off first place respectively, therefore requiring a remarkable set of results.

Both Napoli and Juventus are already assured of a top-four finish, but there are several other teams still battling it out for the three remaining European spots.

Venezia appear doomed at the opposite end of the table after losing to fellow strugglers Salernitana on Thursday, with the latter's victory lifting them out of the bottom three – in all, six teams remain in trouble.

But just how will the remaining two and a half weeks of the season unfold? Using the Stats Perform League Prediction Model, we can try to forecast the final standings.

Created by Stats Perform AI using Opta data, the model has analysed the division to assign percentages to potential outcomes for each club.

The model estimates the probability of each match outcome (win, draw or loss) based on teams' attacking and defensive qualities, which considers four years' worth of results.

Weighting is based on recency and the quality of opposition, with the rest of the matches then simulated 10,000 times to calculate the likelihood of each outcome.

Let's take a look...

 

MILAN TO SEE THE JOB THROUGH

Milan still have Hellas Verona (ninth), Atalanta (eighth) and Sassuolo (11th) to face, whereas Inter's final fixtures are against Empoli (14th), Cagliari (18th) and Sampdoria (15th).

However, it is worth noting that if they finish level on points, Milan would be crowned champions by virtue of a superior head-to-read record against their rivals this term.

With that in mind, while Inter are only two points behind, they essentially need to take three more points than Milan over the final three matchdays.

And our model suggests the Rossoneri have a 62 per cent chance of retaining top spot, compared to a 37.7 per cent chance of defending champions Inter overtaking them.

Just to highlight how unlikely it is either Napoli or Juventus will pip the current top two to the summit, they have a 0.2 and 0.1 per cent chance of winning the title respectively.

A ROME ONE-TWO FOR EUROPA LEAGUE?

The Champions League places may now officially be wrapped up, but five teams are still battling it out for the three remaining European berths.

The sides that finish in fifth and sixth, currently occupied by Roma and Lazio, will qualify for the Europa League group stage.

Roma, according to the model, have a 59.1 per cent chance of nailing down fifth place – though if they were to drop to seventh, the Europa Conference League finalists could get into the Europa League by winning UEFA's third-tier competition.

Lazio would take great enjoyment from finishing above their neighbours and have a 36.9 per cent chance of doing so.

The first priority for Maurizio Sarri will be locking down sixth, though, and there is a 46.7 per cent likelihood of achieving that with Fiorentina three points further back.

ATALANTA TO PIP FIORENTINA

While the top six are forecast to remain where they are, our model predicts seventh-placed Fiorentina will miss out to Atalanta in the Europa Conference League play-off position.

After losing three games in a row, La Viola now have a 31.2 per cent chance of staying seventh, compared to 47.6 for Atalanta, whom they are currently level with on 56 points.

Verona are four points further back and that appears to be too big a gap to bridge, with the Gialloblu seemingly certain to remain in eighth.

Indeed, the 80.8 per cent likelihood of Verona finishing in that position is bettered only by the chances of Empoli staying 14th (90.2 per cent) and Venezia remaining bottom (87.4 per cent) given the points margin either side.

VENEZIA AND TWO OTHERS TO DESCEND

Thursday's 2-1 defeat away to Salernitana looks to have spelled the end for Venezia's brief stint back in the top flight as it leaves them seven points from safety. Their chances of escaping the drop sit at 0.1 per cent.

Salernitana still have a 36.2 per cent chance of dropping into the bottom three, but given they face the team directly below them – Cagliari – and Empoli in their next two games, they will surely like those odds.

Another win for Salernitana on Sunday would be massive at the bottom, as such a result will relegate Venezia and potentially Genoa, whom the model gives only a 1.2 per cent likelihood of climbing up to 17th.

Spezia and Sampdoria aren't quite out of the woods yet, but their five-point cushions should be enough to keep them in Serie A. Everything points to Sunday's contest being almost a straight relegation play-off between Salernitana and Cagliari.

The model suggests with a 63.3 per cent probability that Cagliari will go down, but their fate is in their own hands.

Jose Mourinho confronted a journalist ahead of Roma's visit to Sampdoria on Sunday, saying the reporter "s***" himself in front of him. 

Journalist Alessandro Austini recently criticised Mourinho on Italian radio and the former Manchester United and Real Madrid boss took him to task at his pre-match media conference on Saturday.

Mourinho, 59, said he expected a tougher line of questioning from Austini and accused the journalist of cowering in front of him.

In response to his question, Mourinho said: "I was expecting a much more aggressive question, more negative and violent after I listened to you on the radio.

"I didn't expect such an easy question. My conclusion is that you are much more aggressive and violent on the radio but when you come here you s*** yourself a little bit in front of me."

Roma sit seventh in Serie A ahead of Sunday's visit to Sampdoria, having amassed 51 points from their 30 games.

They are unbeaten in their last nine Italian top-flight matches (W5 D4), winning three of their last four. They last went 10 unbeaten in a row in a single campaign in 2015-16 (17 back then, under Luciano Spalletti).

Sinisa Mihajlovic is facing a new leukaemia battle after the Bologna head coach revealed he is heading back to hospital for treatment.

The Serie A stalwart, who played for Roma, Sampdoria, Lazio and Inter, was first diagnosed with the disease ahead of the 2019-20 season and underwent a bone marrow transplant in October 2019. He was back in the dugout six weeks later.

He has remained boss of Bologna since then but will step away from his responsibilities for an indeterminate period after revealing he has encountered a setback.

Mihajlovic announced the news on Saturday, telling reporters in a news conference that a routine test had given cause for concern.

"In recent years the recovery was excellent, but unfortunately, from the latest analysis some alarm bells have emerged and there is a risk of a reappearance of the disease," Mihajlovic said.

"This disease is very courageous in returning to face an opponent like me."

Former Yugoslavia hard man Mihajlovic, who has coached teams including Sampdoria, Milan and Fiorentina, spoke of the challenges of always knowing there might be a bump in the road after his initial recovery.

"You can fall, and you have to find the strength to get up," he said. "At the beginning of next week I will have to be absent, and I will be hospitalised again at Sant'Orsola. I know I am in excellent hands. Unlike two and a half years ago, when I was in tears, this time you see me calmer.

"I know what I have to do, and my situation is very different than it was then."

Mihajlovic is hoping for a swift return to his Bologna duties, but it will not be immediate. "I will certainly have to skip some matches," he said.

Bologna sit 12th in Serie A and have won just one of 10 league games since the turn of the year, losing six times. Mihajlovic is convinced his players can thrive without him and rise to his encouragement which will come from afar.

Their next match is an April 4 clash with leaders Milan.

"I know they will fight for me. They are all good guys and good players," said 53-year-old Mihajlovic. "I ask the wonderful Bologna fans to support and help them, I am sure it will happen both in training and in matches. 

"None of us will give an inch, we'll move up in the table, and I'll be back with the team soon."

Juventus secured a 3-1 win away at Sampdoria on Saturday to move within a point of third-placed Napoli in Serie A.

An own goal from Maya Yoshida and an Alvaro Morata brace were enough to give all three points to Massimiliano Allegri's side at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris, despite a late strike from Abdelhamid Sabiri.

The hosts had previously squandered a golden chance to get back into the game in the second half when Wojciech Szczesny saved Antonio Candreva's penalty, sealing the win and giving the Bianconeri momentum going into their Champions League last-16 second leg against Villarreal on Wednesday.

Likely with that game in mind, Dusan Vlahovic started on the bench as Moise Kean was given a start alongside Morata.

It was a quiet opening to the game, with the first shot on target from either team coming from Candreva in the 22nd minute, which was palmed away by Szczesny.

However, Juve went straight up the other end and took the lead as Juan Cuadrado's cross from the right was turned into his own net by Yoshida.

Bizarrely, Allegri's men were ahead before they had taken a single shot at goal, and their first effort of the game made it 2-0 as Morata coolly slotted home from the spot after Omar Colley had clumsily brought down Kean in the box.

A listless second half finally came to life when Adrien Rabiot was judged to have handled in the box, but Szczesny got a good hand to Candreva's spot kick down to his right to briefly keep it at 2-0.

The Polish shot-stopper could do nothing about Sabiri's free-kick in the 84th minute, which deflected in off substitute Vlahovic to give the home side late hope, but Juve had their two-goal cushion back shortly after when Morata headed in Manuel Locatelli's cross at the back post to seal victory.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rafael Leao was likened to Thierry Henry by Milan head coach Stefano Pioli after firing his side to a slender victory against Sampdoria.

The Portugal international scored the only goal of the game eight minutes into Sunday's clash at San Siro to send Milan top of Serie A.

Leao controlled a pass from Mike Maignan – the first Milan keeper to assist a league goal since Dida in 2006 – powered past Bartosz Bereszynski and coolly converted.

He now has 10 goals for the season in all competitions, making him the Rossoneri's joint-leading goalscorer alongside Olivier Giroud.

That is already three goals more than Leao managed in 39 appearances last season, and four more than in his first season at San Siro in 2019-20.

Of those 10 goals this season, seven have been scored in Serie A and four of them have been the opening goal of the match.

Pioli has been pleased with Leao's development and is confident there is more to come from the 22-year-old striker.

"I believe he can always do better, he must not be satisfied," Pioli said at his post-match news conference. "He has the qualities to reach the top of Europe and the world.

"He reminds me of Henry, but it is true that Rafa must be himself. Leao is an extraordinary player, but he mustn't rest on his laurels."

Milan took full advantage of Inter's 1-1 draw with Napoli on Saturday to leapfrog both sides into top spot with their win over Sampdoria.

The Rossoneri are two points in front of Napoli and one better off than Inter, who have a game in hand to play.

Pioli's side have gained 55 points from their opening 25 matches – in the era of three points for a win, they have had so many only in 2003-04 (64).

But while his side occupy top spot in a tight battle for the Scudetto, Pioli insisted he is not yet thinking about ending Milan's 11-year wait for a league title.

"Our goal does not change," he said. "We printed last year's standings at the beginning of the season and our goal is to improve on the 79 points collected last season.

"We had a perfect week and I'm happy for the guys who really gave everything, playing with intensity and determination, which allowed us to achieve these results. 

"We also know that the championship is still long: let's concentrate as we have always done to better prepare for the next match to get the best out of it."

 

Milan may be flying high in Serie A and through to the Coppa Italia semi-finals, but not every player is in the good books of supporters.

Franck Kessie appeared to be targeted by the club's ultras on Sunday amid suggestions he is not planning to sign a new contract, with his current one set to expire in July.

A banner was unfurled at San Siro that read: "Those who love Milan show it with facts; cordial goodbyes to those who are dissatisfied."

Kessie was also booed by some supporters during the warm-ups, which Pioli was not pleased with.

"I heard it. I don't think it's the right thing because we need everyone. The past teaches us it is the attitudes and behaviours of the players that make the difference," he said. 

"When I train, I don't care if he has renewed or if it's about to expire. I know these players and I see them, I see how they behave. 

"As long as they have the right attitudes, I will put them on the pitch. The Milan fans have a great heart and a great passion and are giving us great support."

Rafael Leao's early goal proved the difference as Milan beat Sampdoria 1-0 at San Siro on Sunday to climb to the top of Serie A.

Saturday's 1-1 draw between Inter and Napoli provided Milan with the opportunity to leapfrog both sides and they did exactly that without ever being at their best against Samp.

Leao calmly converted inside eight minutes after being assisted by keeper Mike Maignan and that was enough for the hosts, who have now won three in a row in all competitions.

Milan are two points clear of third-place Napoli and one point better off than reigning champions Inter, who still have a game in hand to play.

 

Milan had collected just one point from their past two home matches but started brightly and took the lead early on through Leao's 10th goal of the campaign.

The Portugal international controlled a long pass from Maignan, drove away from Bartosz Bereszynski into the opposition box and coolly fired away from Wladimiro Falcone.

Falcone produced a fine one-handed save to keep out a powerful Junior Messias drive and the Milan midfielder flashed another attempt narrowly wide the other side of half-time.

Sampdoria had a brief moment on top but the big chances continued to fall Milan's way, with Olivier Giroud twice being denied by the visiting keeper from a volley and a header.

The visitors never truly looked like finding a leveller, though, with Stefano Pioli's side seeing out the job to climb to the summit.

 

What does it mean? Tight at the top

After following up a late 2-1 comeback win over Inter with a 4-0 Coppa Italia quarter-final victory against Lazio in midweek, this latest result caps a fine week for Milan.

The Rossoneri will end a gameweek top of Serie A for only the second time this season in what is by some distance the tightest title race in Europe's top five leagues.

As for relegation-threatened Sampdoria, this was their 67th Serie A defeat to Milan – only against Inter (70) have they lost more games in the competition.

Route-one Rossoneri

Leao profited from Maignan's quick thinking to release the ball early for Milan's early breakthrough goal.

Maignan is the eighth goalkeeper to assist a goal in Europe's top five leagues this term, and the first Milan shot-stopper to do so in Serie A since Dida against Ascoli in 2006.

Giroud awakening

Milan's in-form striker had scored braces in back-to-back matches heading into this contest but simply could not find a way past man-of-the-match Falcone.

Giroud had five shots in total with an expected goals (xG) return of 0.40 without finding the net, compared to one shot and one goal for Leao, who had an xG of 0.33.

What's next?

Milan travel to Serie A's bottom side Salernitana next Saturday, while Sampdoria host Empoli the same day.

Juventus assistant manager Marco Landucci applauded his players' attitude and believes they are building consistency following their Coppa Italia victory over Sampdoria.

The Bianconeri made a strong start to their title defence with a commanding 4-1 win over the Blucerchiata at the Allianz Stadium.

Goals from Juan Cuadrado and Daniele Rugani put the hosts in control and despite Andrea Conti's reply for the visitors, further strikes from Paulo Dybala and Alvaro Morata sealed the passage into the quarter-finals.

Landucci oversaw Juve's fortunes in the absence of Massimiliano Allegri, who is serving a touchline ban in the Coppa Italia held over from his first stint in charge of the club.

And the assistant hailed the efforts of his squad, who are now unbeaten after 90 minutes in their last 11 across all competitions.

"We put in a good performance, which wasn’t easy with so few people in the stadium," he told Sport Mediaset.

"We had the right attitude, were fired up, and it was very important that we go through to the next round, as the Coppa Italia is a great tournament. Everyone did very well.

"The attitude is crucial, and we had many games with the right attitude, even missing key players. There are no easy games; we saw that [when] we lost more points against the so-called smaller sides like Verona, Empoli and Udinese.

"The only thing that matters is hard work, attitude and desire. We are finding some consistency now; we need to speak with actions rather than words."

Juventus launched their Coppa Italia title defence with a commanding 4-1 victory over Sampdoria at the Allianz Stadium.

A free-kick from Juan Cuadrado gave the reigning champions a 25th-minute lead, while Daniele Rugani's first Bianconeri goal in almost three years doubled the advantage after the break.

Andrea Conti replied for Sampdoria, whose fortunes were overseen by Felice Tufano following the sacking of coach Roberto D’Aversa on Monday.

But substitute Paulo Dybala put the hosts back in control, before Alvaro Morata's penalty sealed their place in the quarter-finals.

 

Juventus had won eight of their nine previous Coppa Italia meetings with Sampdoria, while they had not been eliminated from this stage of the competition since 2005.

The Bianconeri made a strong start as Cuadrado tested Wladimiro Falcone with a fierce drive, but soon after there was no denying the Colombian, who drilled a low free-kick into the far corner.

Juve thought they had doubled their lead when Morata swept home within 60 seconds of the restart. But the Spain international was denied by VAR after Adrien Rabiot was adjudged to have fouled Tomas Rincon in the build-up.

The second goal arrived seven minutes after the interval; Rugani, who last found the net for Juventus in February 2019, climbed to nod home Arthur’s inviting cross.

Despite a turbulent build-up that included the departure of D’Aversa, Sampdoria responded in the 63rd minute. Unmarked at the far post, Conti was allowed too much time to control before drilling past Mattia Perin.

However, their hard work was undone almost immediately as they were robbed of possession outside the penalty box, with Dybala gratefully sweeping home.

Morata then put the icing on the cake from the penalty spot after Marley was brought down by Tommaso Augello.

Any hopes of Paul Pogba remaining at Old Trafford appear to be fading. 

The Manchester United stalwart has halted contract talks with the club. 

Multiple European clubs are said to be interested in the 28-year-old. 

 

TOP STORY – POGBA ENDS MAN UTD TALKS

Paul Pogba has ended talks over a potential new contract at Manchester United amid an apparent row with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, The Sun reports. 

The France international will be out of contract in June and appears likely to move on. 

The Sun reports he apologised to his team-mates but did not speak to Solskjaer after being sent off 15 minutes after coming on as a substitute in Sunday's 5-0 thrashing by Liverpool. 

His former club Juventus could be an option, while Paris Saint-GermainReal Madrid and Barcelona are also said to have shown interest. 

 

ROUND-UP

- Barcelona would prefer to have Jurgen Klopp take over whenever they sack Ronald Koeman, says Sport. Klopp is under contract with Liverpool through 2024. 

- Newcastle United are prepared to offer Alex Ten Hag £6million a year after taxes if he leaves Ajax for St. James' Park, reports the Mail. 

- Arsenal and Manchester City are interested in Barcelona's Spain international Sergi Roberto, says Fichajes. 

- Inter have had talks with Sampdoria midfielder Morten Thorsby's agent over a potential move, claims Calciomercato. 

- River Plate forward Julian Alvarez is drawing interest from Milan, Bayer Leverkusen and Aston Villa, says Calciomercato. 

What does the future hold for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer?

His position as Manchester United manager is becoming more uncertain after an embarrassing loss to Liverpool.

A former Premier League-winning boss, Antonio Conte, is believed to be waiting in the wings.

 

TOP STORY – CONTE EYEING UNITED ROLE?

The Manchester United job would be a priority for Antonio Conte should the Red Devils part with embattled manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, according to Sportitalia journalist Gianluigi Longari.

Solskjaer is facing fierce criticism following Sunday's humiliating 5-0 defeat to Premier League rivals Liverpool at Old Trafford.

Former Inter and Chelsea boss Conte has been linked with Newcastle United following talk of a pre-season move to Tottenham, while the likes of Zinedine Zidane, Ajax head coach Erik ten Hag and Paris Saint-Germain's Mauricio Pochettino could reportedly be considered for the United role.

 

ROUND-UP

- Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger is in talks with Manchester City, Tottenham and Juventus, per Gianluca Di Marzio. The Germany international is available on a free transfer at season's end amid reported interest from Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain.

- Marcelo wants to leave Madrid for Fluminense in 2022, claims El Nacional. Marcelo is out of contract at the end of the season.

- El Nacional says Barcelona have decided to sell United States international Sergino Dest. The 20-year-old has struggled for form at Camp Nou and he has been linked with Bayern.

Inter and Juve both identified Fiorentina star Dusan Vlahovic and Sampdoria's Mikkel Damsgaard, per Calciomercato. Vlahovic has also been linked with City, Atletico Madrid, Tottenham and Arsenal.

- Calciomercato claims Serie A high-flyers Milan are eyeing Brest midfielder Romain Faivre.

 

Watford have appointed Premier League winner Claudio Ranieri as their new head coach.

Ranieri has signed a two-year deal at Vicarage Road following the departure of Xisco Munoz, who became the first Premier League managerial sacking of the season on Sunday.

Under Munoz, the Hornets won their first game on their top-flight return against Aston Villa but only managed to pick up four points from the next six games to leave them in 15th.

However, new appointment Ranieri is no stranger to English football having enjoyed spells with Chelsea and Fulham, while overseeing the most unlikely of title-winning terms with Leicester City.

The Foxes secured the title in 2015-16, led by the likes of Riyad Mahrez, N'Golo Kante and Jamie Vardy as they lost just three times all season under the Italian's stewardship.

Despite the triumph, Leicester and Ranieri parted ways the following season with the defending champions just a point above the relegation zone with 13 games left to play.

He then returned to take charge of Fulham in 2018, via a stop at Nantes, but was sacked after just 106 days in charge, with the Cottagers heading for an imminent relegation from the Premier League.

The former Chelsea manager's most recent job was with Sampdoria, but he departed in the close-season after a two-year spell with the club, having initially taken charge in 2019.

Watford, who have now hired six and fired five different permanent head coaches since Marco Silva's departure in January 2018, become Ranieri's 21st club in his 35-year career.

He will be joined by assistant coaches Paolo Benetti and Carlo Cornacchia, as well as fitness coach Carlo Spignoli, as he prepares for the difficult task of the unbeaten Liverpool in his first game on October 16.

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.

Paulo Dybala was in tears as he left the pitch during Sunday's Serie A clash between Juventus and Sampdoria having suffered an injury.

Dybala was limited to just 14 league starts last season as he struggled with his fitness, but has started each of Juve's five Serie A game so far this season.

He scored on the opening day against Udinese and took his tally for the season to two with an exceptional first-time strike from the edge of the area to give Juve the lead against Sampdoria.

However, his day came to an abrupt end 12 minutes later when he pulled up with an apparent muscular problem and immediately had to be taken off.

The 27-year-old was visibly distressed and emotional as he left the pitch, with his team-mates comforting him as the Argentine forward used his shirt to wipe away his tears. He had been hugely impressive, creating three chances and having two attempts.

It is not just a worry for Dybala, but also Juve boss Massimiliano Allegri, whose side have had a poor start to the Serie A campaign, taking only five points from their opening five matches, while the Bianconeri face Chelsea in the Champions League on Wednesday.

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