Massimiliano Allegri insisted there is cause for optimism at Juventus as he demanded a strong finish to the year and ruled out a desperate transfer plunge.
Juventus travel to face Bologna on Saturday before wrapping up 2021 with a home game against Cagliari on Tuesday.
They will resume with games against Napoli and Roma in January, a testing opening to the year for a Juventus side who have spluttered through the season so far.
There were high hopes of a Scudetto tilt when Allegri returned to Turin in the close season after the failed experiment of having rookie coach Andrea Pirlo in charge of the team last term.
Rather than challenge for top spot, Juventus head into the latest round of games in seventh place, already 12 points adrift of leaders Inter. Allegri won five Scudetti with Juve in his first spell in charge, but there is ground to make up this time.
Asked what light there might be at the end of the tunnel, Allegri told a news conference on Friday: “I see it, even if at the moment we are lagging behind in the standings.
“We need to work to improve. I am very happy with the choice I made. In this squad there are players with little experience of winning, and it takes time to train them.
“I am sorry we have fewer points than we might have.”
Pointing to a string of fixtures where Juventus under-performed this season, he added: “We can’t only get two points from games with Verona, Udinese, Sassuolo, Empoli and Venezia; two out of 15 is very few.”
— JuventusFC (@juventusfcen) December 15, 2021
Juventus are not looking to buy their way out of trouble, Allegri insisted.
His squad boasts plenty of quality, including several Euro 2020 winners, and it is about drawing the best performances from the resources he already has that is occupying Allegri.
“We talk to the club and evaluate every day, but the transfer market will not solve the goal problem,” Allegri said. “The squad is excellent, but we need to improve.”
He stressed his focus is not on a top-four finish and Champions League football, but rather on shorter-term objectives.
“In January we have to face Napoli and Roma, and they are two important steps,” Allegri added. “We must be ready.
“We need to understand our mistakes and improve also on our goalscoring. We must do our best, and then play the second part of the season in the best possible way. We need to work with confidence, we still have 21 games to improve our position.”
Juventus have won their last 10 Serie A games against Bologna, which bodes well for Saturday.
Indeed, Bologna’s last home win over Juve in Serie A was back in November 1998.
There are signs of Juve sharpening up, having conceded just two goals in their last six league games and taken 13 points from a possible 18. Four clean sheets across that stretch is as many as they managed in their previous 29 Serie A matches.
Yet the goals are not flowing freely this season, with Juve managing just 23 from their opening 17 games, which is their lowest tally at this stage since 1999-2000 (22 goals).
Paulo Dybala, their top scorer with five Serie A goals, will miss the Bologna game after a recent knock. The last time Juventus had a leading scorer with five or fewer goals after the first 17 matches of a league season was in 1991-92, when Pierluigi Casiraghi had five. Juve still managed to finish as runners-up to Milan in that campaign.
Aaron Ramsey is another confirmed absentee, while Dejan Kulusevski could feature but Allegri said the winger “doesn’t have 90 minutes in his legs” after surgery to resolve a sinusitis problem that affected his ability to eat, meaning he has lost weight.
Federico Chiesa and Danilo are also sidelined for now, with question marks over the availability of several others, including Giorgio Chiellini and Manuel Locatelli.
- Soccer News Like
- Be the first of your friends!