Struggling Serie A champions Juventus face the next test in their effort to resuscitate their title defense as they travel south to face Lazio on Friday night. The Scudetto holders got off to the worst start in the club’s history this season but have recently seen a turnaround in results, having gone undefeated in their last six matches.
Those results have included a win over AC Milan in Serie A and a win over Manchester City in the Champions League, and the good results have seen The Old Lady climb the table. Now sitting in fifth place, they are poised to break back into the top four. A win on Friday could see them draw even with fourth-placed Roma, at least temporarily.
However, amidst rumors linking him with a move to Manchester United, Juve boss Massimiliano Allegri was quick to temper expectations ahead of Friday night’s clash.
“We have not achieved anything yet. It’s true that we’ve won four in a row but our journey has only just began,” Allegri said in his pre-match press conference on Thursday.
“We need to set ourselves a series of mini objectives and start by gaining a grip of fourth position. We have Lazio and Fiorentina up next in the league and these represent two important and difficult clashes against Scudetto contenders.”
Juventus’ turnaround has coincided with a drop in form for Lazio. While Juve has won their last four Serie A outings, Lazio have failed to win a match since beating Torino back in late October. The run of poor results has seen Stefano Pioli’s men drop from the upper echelons of the table down to 10th place.
But facing Lazio at the Stadio Olimpico is never an easy prospect. Having lost at home only once this season, The Eagles currently have one of the best home records in Serie A.
Allegri was quick to point out the danger posed by Lazio in his remarks:
“The Biancocelesti approach tomorrow’s game off the back of some negative results, yet they have turned in some decent performances. They didn’t deserve to lose against Empoli and they played well at home against Palermo.”
“They also want to exact revenge for their defeats to us in the Coppa Italia and Super Cup. We can’t afford to slip up, our aim is to climb up into another position in the league.”
Allegri will have to make do without his best player, with France midfielder Paul Pogba currently under suspension, while Lazio will be without Stefan de Vrij, Stefano Mauri and Ogenyi Onazi.
Lazio’s Bosnian winger Senad Lulic is also likely to be unavailable, having suffered a horrific injury in the team gym Wednesday that saw several of his fingers crushed by exercise equipment. Although he has since undergone reconstructive surgery for his hand, it’s not yet known when Lulic will be able to return to action.