Juventus look to build on Chelsea win in Turin derby
Milan (AFP) – Juventus approach the Turin derby on Saturday in the unusual position of being behind rivals Turin in the Serie A table, but have started to find some momentum in recent weeks.
Massimiliano Allegri’s side have had a nightmarish start to the season as they seek to regain the title which was lost to Inter Milan last season.
A five-game unbeaten streak, capped by an impressive Champions League victory over Chelsea in midweek, has raised hopes that the old lady has turned a corner.
“We showed the spirit of Juventus tonight, and that’s what the coach asks of us,” winger Federico Chiesa told Amazon after scoring the game-winning goal on Wednesday.
Juve had to rally late to qualify for the Champions League finishing fourth last season under Andrea Pirlo, with their offer for a 10th consecutive Scudetto that never took off.
The return of Allegri, who led the club to five consecutive titles from 2015 to 2019 and two Champions League finals in his previous tenure as coach, should put an end to the woes of the Turin giants.
Juventus, however, found themselves languishing on the wrong side of the table after four games, and still have not kept their clean sheet in Serie A this campaign.
But the old defensive determination was there against Chelsea as the European champions failed to create a clear chance despite the dominant possession.
Further on, Juve have a potential future star in Euro 2020 winner Chiesa.
The 23-year-old had been criticized by Allegri after a slow start to the season, but his manager believes he can become a striker – like his father, former Italian striker Enrico Chiesa.
“He is absolutely not 100% and it was the first time he has played as a center forward,” said Allegri. “I told Federico my assessment that he can play as a center forward or a supporting striker.”
Juventus are unbeaten in their last 14 meetings with Turin, whose last derby victory was a 2-1 success, also at Stadio Olimpico in Turin, in April 2015.
Juve occupy 10th place in the standings, behind Turin on goal difference.
– Naples faces a tough test –
Luciano Spalletti’s Napoli will be hoping to avoid the first slump of their season when they make the tricky trip to face fit Fiorentina on Sunday.
Napoli, who started the league campaign with six straight wins to give fans hope for a first Serie A triumph since 1990, suffered their first defeat of the season against Spartak Moscow in the Europa League on Thursday.
Fiorentina will look to take advantage of the hangover of this defeat to try to secure a fifth victory in seven league games.
Defending champions Inter Milan sit third in the debut table and, like city rivals AC Milan and Napoli, are also undefeated.
Inter visit Sassuolo after announcing record annual Serie A losses for 2020-2021.
AC Milan face the always dangerous Atalanta in Bergamo on Sunday, while Jose Mourinho’s Roma host Empoli.
Player to watch: Victor Osimhen
Nigerian forward Osimhen suffered an injured first season at Napoli in 2020-21 but started the current campaign in brilliant form.
The 22-year-old scored 10 more in the league last season, but he continues 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 kept clean sheets back to back in Europe.
13 – Draws for Turin in 2021, three more than any other team.
22 – Years since Salernitana last won a Serie A match. They’ve only managed one point on their return so far.
Calendar (GMT hours)
Cagliari versus Venice (1845)
Salernitana against Genoa (1300), Turin against Juventus (1600), Sassuolo against Inter Milan (1845)
Bologna against Lazio (1030), Sampdoria against Udinese, Verona against Spezia (both 1300), Roma against Empoli, Fiorentina against Napoli (both in 1600), Atalanta against AC Milan (1845)