Juventus boss Allegri admits Maccabi clash a 'must win' after poor Champions League start

By Sports Desk October 04, 2022

Massimiliano Allegri says Juventus' Champions League clash with Maccabi Haifa is a "must win" following their difficult start to the 2022-23 season.

A 3-0 victory over Bologna in Serie A over the weekend saw the Bianconeri finally snap a winless streak that started in August, having lost their first two European games to Paris Saint-Germain and Benfica.

But that result has not fully masked the struggles of a side that have looked ill at ease with themselves this term, off the pace all too frequently at home and abroad, with them yet to claim a Champions League win this term.

The visit of the Israeli Premier League champions – the lowest ranked side in the competition by UEFA Club Coefficient – therefore represents a match in which they must prevail to further stem their troubles.

"We must win, but we don’t need anxiety," Allegri cautioned. "One game does not solve all the problems. Hopefully, we'll win.

"It's not an easy game. Maccabi played well in Lisbon [a 2-0 loss to Benfica] and played an even match with PSG [a 3-1 loss]. They press high, and it's going to be tough. We have to respect them.

"It's useless to think about the other teams if we don't win both games against Maccabi. Tomorrow is our most important Champions League game."

Allegri added that he expects to rotate players amid a heavy fixture schedule through October, as teams race towards the start of the Qatar 2022 World Cup next month.

"Surely, we will change something," he noted. "We have a packed fixture list. I can rotate a bit during the game."

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    Brazil are already through to the knockout stage and will top the pool unless they lose and Switzerland win with a significant goal swing.

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    They have never won their final group game at a finals, however, while Brazil are unbeaten at this stage in a record 17 matches.

    And the Selecao have their own goals in mind, looking to take nine points from a possible nine for the first time since 2006.

    "Being first is always the goal, regardless of who the opponent is in the next match," said Fabinho, one of the men set to come into the XI.

    "Our focus is always to win the games, try to earn nine points and give our best. 

    "Whoever will play will have the opportunity to wear the shirt of the Brazilian national team in a World Cup, so the thought of a winning team has to always be this, to enter, give the best, win and be the first."

    Tite's first-choice stars have set a high standard, winning both games without conceding or even facing a single shot on target. They are the first team not to face a shot on target in their first two games at a World Cup since France in 1998.

    "Personally, I don't think [maintaining the standard] brings pressure to us," added Fabinho. "I think playing in a World Cup is every player's dream. It's a once-in-a-lifetime thing.

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    Cameroon have lost only two World Cup matches to South American teams, but both have been in their two meetings with Brazil, who have won all seven of their finals clashes with African opposition, scoring 20 goals and conceding just two.

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    Cameroon – Vincent Aboubakar

    Aboubakar has twice appeared from the bench, yet he could hardly have done more to earn a starting berth. Against Serbia, he became the first substitute to both score and assist a goal in a World Cup match for an African nation, bringing Cameroon back from 3-1 down to 3-3 within 11 minutes of his introduction.

    Brazil – Vinicius Junior

    The Selecao may not need to risk playing Vinicius, with Neymar already injured, but it must be tough not to pick a man in this form. Only Kylian Mbappe (23) was involved in more open play sequences that ended with a shot than the winger (15) through two matchdays. Only Mbappe and Ismaila Sarr (four) created more chances following a carry (three).

    PREDICTION

    Even with the potential for changes in the Brazil XI, the supercomputer has no doubts about this one. Tite's men are massive 72.7 per cent favourites.

    Cameroon must win but are given only a 10.6 per cent chance, with a draw that would confirm Brazil as group winners rated at 16.7 per cent.

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    Serbia - Aleksandar Mitrovic

    The Fulham striker produced a mixed performance in the draw with Cameroon. While he was a nuisance all afternoon and scored a goal, he failed to capitalise on many of the chances that came his way. Twice in the first half he should have done better while he also missed another clear opportunity in the closing stages.

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    Only two men have made more saves than Sommer's nine, the Netherlands' Andries Noppert (albeit from three matches rather than Sommer's two) and his opposite number on Friday, Vanja Milinkovic-Savic (12).


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    Stats Perform's AI model believes all three outcomes are a distinct possibility with little to separate them.

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    Regragui added: "It wasn’t easy and when you have this kind of opportunity to make history you think about it.

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    For Canada, Thursday represented the end of a remarkable journey that saw them top the final round of CONCACAF qualifying ahead of Mexico and the United States to reach their first World Cup in 36 years.

    English coach John Herdman said: "It’s the first time in a long time that we’ve got here and we’d like to have been here longer.

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