Massimiliano Allegri demanding even more from table-toppers Juventus

Sport360 staff 23/12/2018
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Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri

Topping the table at Christmas means very little to Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri, who wants six more points on the board before the new year arrives.

Juve restored their eight-point lead over second-placed Napoli by beating Roma 1-0 in Turin on Saturday night thanks to a first-half goal from Mario Mandzukic, but the Bianconeri toiled fruitlessly in pursuit of a second goal to kill the game off.

Next is a trip to face Atalanta on Boxing Day, which is swiftly followed by next Saturday’s home meeting with Sampdoria.

Allegri told juventus.com: “We haven’t won anything yet. We are doing good things and we are the winter champions but we need to have picked up even more points as of December 29.

“The lads played well after the break and (Robin) Olsen made some good saves. Overall I’m happy, we put on a good show.

“We had to put a lot of pressure on Roma to make things difficult for them psychologically, and after we took the lead there were a few situations which we could have exploited better, but on the whole we did well, in both halves.”

Juve captain Giorgio Chiellini rued the failure to get past Roma goalkeeper Olsen again after the break, with Cristiano Ronaldo experiencing the bulk of the frontline’s frustration.

Chiellini said: “The strength of this team is not one player: whether that’s me, or Cristiano, or Mario, but it’s in the collective and we saw that tonight.

Giorgio Chiellini

Giorgio Chiellini

“In the second half we could have done a bit better when we were in possession in their half, we were struggling to counter-attack at times.

“We can get better, because we really needed to score a second goal. Games are played across the whole 90 minutes.

“We’ll enjoy a few hours of rest and then it’s on to thinking about Bergamo, where a tough game awaits us.”
Roma head coach Eusebio Di Francesco, whose side are languishing down in eighth place due to inconsistent form, said: “In the first 45 minute we saw the same fear and insecurity of recent games.

“But after the break we overcame that: we battled with determination and used the ball a lot better.” 

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Ronaldo and Juventus look to march on.

Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri felt his side had made “a big step forward” after Cristiano Ronaldo‘s penalty secured a hard-earned 1-0 win at rivals Torino which extended their unbeaten Serie A run to 16 games.

The Bianconeri produced the required response from the unexpected midweek Champions League defeat at Swiss club Young Boys, coming through what was a tough test in difficult conditions at the Stadio Olimpico.

Ronaldo converted from the spot in the 70th minute after Torino substitute goalkeeper Salvador Ichazo had clattered into Mario Mandzukic.

The Croatian was then denied a goal himself for offside in the build up from a free-kick after a Video Assistant Review, but it did not impact on the final outcome.

Juve’s 15th league victory moves Allegri’s men 11 points clear of Napoli, who are away to Cagliari on Sunday.

“It was a tricky match because it came just three days after our Champions League game, because it was the derby and because Torino are in great form at the moment,” Allegri told a press conference after the match.

“It’s a great result for us and a big step forward.

“Despite playing on a poor pitch, we played well in the second half. We created lots of chances and gave nothing away.”

Allegri praised the way his team had dug in after being stretched by their local rivals in a typically physical derby encounter.

“We struggled a bit too much in the first half, when we were too hurried in possession, partly because of their pressing,” the Juventus boss added.

“Afterwards they dropped off a bit and we grew into the game. We managed to play with more width and play off the forwards.

“The lads read the game well and waited for the right moment to strike. I can have no complaints whatsoever.”

Torino had lost just once in their previous 10 Serie A games to move into the top six.

Defender Cristian Ansaldi feels Walter Mazzarri’s side must quickly regroup and put the disappointment of the derby defeat behind them.

“To lose feels bad, but now we have to get our heads right up and continue on our path to get back to winning,” he said, quoted by the Torino website.

“It’s a pity for the (penalty) incident, but making mistakes can happen to everyone, football is like that – sometimes it rewards you or sometimes it does not.

“Now it is important that our focus is immediately on the next match against Sassuolo.”

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Mario Mandzukic

They say not everything is black and white, but it certainly seems that way in Serie A as Juventus tightened their grip on the Scudetto with a sixth straight win in Serie A, toppling Inter Milan in Tuirin.

Mario Mandzukic was the hero of the Derby d’Italia, stooping to head in the only goal in the 66th minute, getting ahead of his marker to nod in Joao Cancelo’s pin-point cross.

Inter started positively but Roberto Gagliardini and Matteo Politano wasted inviting opportunities to open the scoring. Juve defended stoutly and once they had their goal, there seemed an inevitability to the result.

It’s 15 games without defeat for Max Allegri’s side this season as they effectively ended the third-placed Nerazzurri’s title hopes – Luciano Spaletti’s side trail the league leaders by 14 points – as their eighth successive league win already looms large.

Here we rate the Juve players.

Georgio Chiellini was at his commanding best against Inter.

Giorgio Chiellini was at his commanding best against Inter.

JUVENTUS (4-3-3)

Wojciech Szczesny – 6: Relatively untroubled, reacting well to collect the rebound after Gagliardini had beaten him but hit the post. Didn’t put a glove wrong.

Joao Cancelo – 8: Switched to the right from his usual left position, but cross for the opener came from the left, indicating his thirst for getting forward. Put on a plate for Mandzukic. Lively throughout, with three key passes and three dribbles leading Juve.

Leonardo Bonucci – 6: Not as commanding as his colleague, but recovered to block well from Politano after Matuidi’s mistake.

Giorgio Chiellini – 8: The old warhorse keeps galloping, approaching 500 games in his 14th season with the club. Had a few sights of goal and typically flung himself in the way of everything Inter could muster.

Mattia De Sciglio – 7: Thirst was defensive work doesn’t hinder his ability to get forward and after a lively start from Inter, he was able to contribute in attack, his crosses always dangerous.

Rodrigo Bentancur – 7: Making himself at home in the Bianconeri engine room. Met Dybala’s centre with the side of his foot, vital intervention from Brozovic prevented the hosts taking the lead.

Miralem Pjanic – 6: Picked up early yellow card for felling Mario as Inter started brightly, but his class began to tell as the game wore on. Raking ball to Cancelo set up the opening goal.

Blaise Matuidi – 6: Continues to prove himself an elite operator with a performance full of bite and boldness in attack. Horrendous pass across goal nearly gifted Inter a goal.

Paulo Dybala – 7: Met Ronaldo’s cross but headed over. Skied a good chance well over in the second period, rightly putting his head in his hands. In-between was excellent with the ball, his crosses nearly always found a team-mate. Three key passes.

Cristiano Ronaldo – 6: Always looked to go at Inter’s defenders and was bright early on. But as he kept Skriniar and Miranda occupied, Dybala and Mandzukic were allowed to exert their influence.

Mario Mandzukic – 7: As ever, relished the physical battle, typified as he simply wanted the ball more than Asamoah for the opening goal, stooping for a trademark poachers’ header. His 92 per cent pass accuracy led his side.

SUBS:

Douglas Costa – 6: Replaced Dybala, with Allegri looking for the Brazilian speedster to utilise his pace against a tiring defence.

Emre Can N/A: Brought on to maintain stability with Juve in the driving seat and Inter running out of ideas.

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