Allegri lauds 'winning DNA' of improving Juventus

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Massimiliano Allegri hailed Juventus' "winning DNA" as the Italian champions prepare to face Sporting CP in Champions League Group D.

Allegri has not spared his players from criticism during some faltering moments over the early stages of their Serie A defence, not least after they squandered leads to draw at Atalanta and lose to Lazio either side of the October international break.

A 2-1 victory at home to Sporting sparked a run of four wins in succession heading into the return clash in Lisbon, where Juve will progress to the last 16 with a win so long as Barcelona avoid defeat at Olympiacos.

"I'm really proud to be part of this team," Allegri told a pre-match news conference, having overseen a Gonzalo Higuain-inspired 2-0 win over AC Milan at the weekend. "Juventus have a winning DNA.

"This game will be very difficult. Sporting are a very good squad and we need to get a positive result.

"It would be like a gift for us, for our fans and for everyone associated with the club [to reach the last 16].

"We know what a win here will give us, it gives us the possibility of going through on the night. But a draw would also keep us on the right path."

Veteran goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon flanked Allegri at the media briefing and spoke warmly of Portugal international and opposite number Rui Patricio.

"He's a very good goalkeeper," he said. "He did amazing things at Euro 2016."

Juve captain Buffon added: "We are improving a lot as a team, we must manage tomorrow's game with intelligence and respond appropriately when the going gets tough.

"Sporting are a very good team, especially at home. After the Barcelona [defeat], every game in this section for us became vital, decisive."