Milan (AFP) – Juventus head into Saturday’s Turin derby in the unusual position of being behind city rivals Torino in the Serie A table, but have started to find some momentum in recent weeks.
Massimiliano Allegri’s side made a nightmare start to the season as they looked to regain the title which was lost to Inter Milan last term.
A five-match unbeaten run, capped by an impressive Champions League win over holders Chelsea in midweek, has raised hopes that the Old Lady have turned a corner.
“We showed the Juventus spirit tonight, and that’s what the coach asks of us,” winger Federico Chiesa told Amazon after scoring the winning goal on Wednesday.
Juve had to rally late just to secure Champions League qualification by finishing fourth last season under Andrea Pirlo, with their bid for a 10th straight Scudetto never getting off the ground.
The return of Allegri, who led the club to five straight titles from 2015-2019 and two Champions League finals in his previous spell as coach, was expected to end the Turin giants’ woes.
Juventus found themselves languishing at the wrong end of the table after four matches, though, and are still yet to keep a Serie A clean sheet this campaign.
But the old defensive resolve was there against Chelsea as the European champions failed to create a clear-cut chance despite dominating possession.
Further forward, Juve have a potential star of the future in Euro 2020-winner Chiesa.
The 23-year-old had been criticised by Allegri after a slow start to the season, but his manager believes he can become a striker — like his father, former Italy forward Enrico Chiesa.
“He is absolutely not at 100 percent and this was the first real time he has played as a centre-forward,” Allegri said. “I told Federico my evaluation, which is that he can play as a centre-forward or a support striker.”
Juventus are unbeaten in their last 14 meetings with Torino, whose most recent derby victory was a 2-1 success, also at Turin’s Stadio Olimpico, in April 2015.
Juve sit 10th in the standings, below Torino on goal difference.
– Napoli face tough test –
Luciano Spalletti’s Napoli will be hoping to avoid the first slump of their season when they make the tricky trip to take on in-form Fiorentina on Sunday.
Napoli, who have started the league campaign with six straight wins to give their supporters hope of a first Serie A triumph since 1990, suffered their first loss of the season to Spartak Moscow in the Europa League on Thursday.
Fiorentina will be looking to take advantage of any hangover from that defeat as they bid for a fifth win from seven league games.
Reigning champions Inter Milan sit third in the early table and, like city rivals AC Milan and Napoli, are also unbeaten.
Inter visit Sassuolo after announcing Serie A record annual losses for 2020-2021.
AC Milan take on the always-dangerous Atalanta in Bergamo on Sunday, while Jose Mourinho’s Roma host Empoli.
Player to watch: Victor Osimhen
Nigeria striker Osimhen endured an injury-hit first season in Naples in 2020-21, but has started the current campaign in brilliant form.
The 22-year-old still netted 10 times in the league last season but he is continuing to improve and has found the net seven times in his last five games.
10 – Goals conceded by Juventus in six league games this season. They have kept back-to-back clean sheets in Europe.
13 – League draws for Torino in 2021, three more than any other team.
22 – Years since Salernitana last won a Serie A match. They have managed only one point on their return so far.
Fixtures (times GMT)
Cagliari v Venezia (1845)
Salernitana v Genoa (1300), Torino v Juventus (1600), Sassuolo v Inter Milan (1845)
Bologna v Lazio (1030), Sampdoria v Udinese, Verona v Spezia (both 1300), Roma v Empoli, Fiorentina v Napoli (both 1600), Atalanta v AC Milan (1845)
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