Allegri: Juventus playing catch up


Massimiliano Allegri knows Juventus are playing catch up in Serie A after an underwhelming start to the season, but is confident they can get back in the title race ahead of matches against Lazio and Fiorentina.

Juventus won just one of their opening six league games, but have since bounced back and climbed to fifth place in the table following four consecutive wins.

They have collected 24 points from 14 games and Allegri believes they need around 80 points to successfully defend their title.

"We are facing Lazio and Fiorentina in the next two weeks, two games against title contenders. We're playing catch up and need to be clear headed," the Juventus coach said at a news conference.

"I think this season's Scudetto winners will end up with around 80 points. Picking up points is always tougher in the second half of the season.

"We still haven't achieved anything, I don't want to see a drop in focus Friday. It's a delicate moment in our season. We need to try and climb another position in the league."

Juventus will be without the suspended Paul Pogba when they take on Lazio at the Stadio Olimpico on Friday and Allegri expects a tough encounter, even if he is confident he has adequate cover for the Frenchman.

"It will be a difficult game because Lazio have had a tough time of late. Lazio will be out for revenge following our Super Cup and Coppa Italia wins over them. We've worked out that winning games requires us to dig deep and fight for every ball.

"We have plenty of options for Friday's starting XI. I'll have a good look at the players on Thursday in order to see who's best suited to replacing Pogba in midfield.

"[Kwadwo] Asamoah is training with the team, but [Sami] Khedira will miss out on the game against Lazio. [Simone] Padoin always comes on with the right attitude, he's a player that every coach would want to have within his ranks."

Allegri also briefly responded to rumours that Manchester United have earmarked him as a potential candidate to replace Louis van Gaal, stressing that he is content with life at Juventus.

"I'm very happy to coach Juventus and remain fully focused on achieving the very important objectives we have here."