Allegri backs Juve to beat Benfica after thrashing Empoli

By Sports Desk October 21, 2022

Massimiliano Allegri backed his Juventus side to claim a vital Champions League win at Benfica after they thrashed Empoli 4-0 on Friday.

The Bianconeri followed up their derby victory over Torino last weekend with an impressive display at the Allianz Arena, where Moise Kean put them in front with his first goal since April.

Weston McKennie opened his Serie A account for the season to double their lead and there were two late goals for Adrien Rabiot as Juve moved above Inter into seventh place.

Allegri's future had been called into question following defeats to Milan and Maccabi Haifa, but the Turin giants look to have turned the corner.

They must win at Benfica on Tuesday to have any chance of qualifying for the Champions League round of 16 and head coach Allegri fancies their chances in Lisbon.

He said: "Tonight it was important to win because we are behind in the championship and we hadn't won two in a row.

"Unfortunately we have to chase in the championship for the points lost against Salernitana and Monza. Tuesday will be an important match for two reasons: we are not out of the Champions League and we are not even in the Europa League.

"We will face a strong team, we can go there and overturn the result [they were beaten at home by Benfica], we need to be confident."

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  • Poland to make late decision on Lewandowski inclusion v Austria Poland to make late decision on Lewandowski inclusion v Austria

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    Lewandowski missed Sunday's 2-1 loss to the Netherlands in Poland's Group D opener after injuring his thigh in his side's final warm-up game.

    The Barcelona striker was always expected to miss that game but was given a chance of playing against Austria in Berlin after taking part in team training.

    Probierz confirmed on the eve of the crucial showdown that "all players" are available, but could not say whether Lewandowski will start.

    "There is a big difference if you have best player in the world on the bench or you have him on the pitch," Probierz told reporters. 

    "We will make a decision later today. I hope the decision is positive and I hope I can select him tomorrow. We still don't know. 

    "I am waiting for the medical team to take the decision. Practically all players will appear in training and a decision will be taken after that.”

    Lewandowski has made more appearances (150) and scored more goals (82) for Poland than any other player.

  • Southgate's flawed thinking puts England's Euro 2024 progress on ice Southgate's flawed thinking puts England's Euro 2024 progress on ice

    England have a track record of not being at their best in the second matches of major tournaments.

    At Euro 2020, Scotland held out for a goalless draw at Wembley. At the 2022 World Cup, it was the United States who frustrated the Three Lions in a 1-1 draw.

    In Frankfurt on Thursday, at Euro 2024, it was Denmark's turn. Harry Kane's opener was cancelled out by Morten Hjolmund's long-range stunner.

    Yet this was an England performance that has been long in the making, and their manager Gareth Southgate must shoulder plenty of the blame.

    England headed into Euro 2024 as one of the favourites, but on the evidence of their first two matches, then barring flashes, that tag is definitely not befitting.

    In the end, England could arguably be considered as being fortunate to come away with a point. The Danes accumulated 0.58 expected goals to the Three Lions' 0.36 in the second half, and looked the more likely to score even if they didn't truly test Jordan Pickford.

    England did take the draw, which sees them stay top of Group C, albeit they missed the chance to secure passage into the last 16 as group winners.

    With four points, they should progress, but there is no guarantee on which of the top three places they will take, and Southgate has plenty of food for thought.

    But under Southgate, England have now failed to win 13 games in which they led at some stage, losing five of those.

    What can he do to change track?

    TAA in midfield should come to an end

    The Trent Alexander-Arnold experiment must stop. He is not a midfielder.

    This is a prime example of Southgate's flawed thinking. Alexander-Arnold is a world-class player, but he is a full-back who needs the freedom to drift infield - he is not a midfielder. Indeed, at times during his 54 minutes on the pitch, he resembled a spare part.

    That being said, Southgate will likely point to the numbers: Alexander-Arnold created three chances, a team-high, played five line-breaking passes and registered an 87.5 per cent passing accuracy, while also attempting two crosses.

    But there is a severe lack of balance in that area of the field, and it is skewing the entirety of England's system.

    Southgate's attempt to address that was by bringing on Conor Gallagher, who is a busy box-to-box presence, but does not solve the issue of balance. Jude Bellingham drops deep to get on the ball, but with Phil Foden stationed out wide, there is nobody dropping into the '10 spot' with regularity.

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    A move away from 4-2-3-1, which has seemingly been introduced to get the best out of Bellingham as a number 10, might in turn benefit Kane.

    The Bayern Munich star, fresh from scoring 44 goals for the Bundesliga giants, showed his clinical edge with the only chance he got, but that was the sole touch he managed in Denmark's box.

    His tally of 22 touches was two fewer than England's captain managed against Serbia (24), and he found himself hauled off in a bizarre triple change around the 70th minute.

    Southgate threw on Ollie Watkins as Kane's replacement, but why not try the two together? 

    Kane's opener was his fifth goal at the Euros, making him the first England player and eighth player overall to score five or more goals at both the men's World Cup and the European Championship. How can you take such a threat off with the match poised at 1-1?

    Jarrod Bowen and Eberechi Eze were the other substitutes handed a chance - they hardly struck fear into Denmark's defence. Anthony Gordon, a winger truly capable of stretching the opposition and offering England a threat down the left, was left on the bench, as was Cole Palmer, the Premier League's Young Player of the Season. Jack Grealish and Marcus Rashford didn't make the squad, of course.

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  • Kane calls for calm but accepts England not good enough Kane calls for calm but accepts England not good enough

    Harry Kane called for some perspective following England's 1-1 Euro 2024 draw against Denmark but accepts his side were not good enough.

    England failed to build on a 1-0 win over Serbia in their Group C opener as they saw Kane's opener cancelled out by Morten Hjulmand in Thursday's match in Frankfurt.

    Gareth Southgate's side once again failed to push on after taking the lead in a game and supporters made their frustrations known.

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    "We're struggling with and without the ball," he told BBC Sport. "The pressing in both games hasn't been quite right, and with the ball we haven't been good enough – that's from top to bottom, from me to Picks (Jordan Pickford). 

    "It was tough out there with the heat and the pitch. It wasn't our greatest game but we got away with a draw.

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    England sit top of Group C with four points from two matches and will guarantee a place in the knockouts with a draw against Slovenia on Tuesday, while a win sees them through in top spot.

    "We're top of the group and we've all but qualified," added Kane, who was substituted with 20 minutes to go. "I know there’ll be loads of noise and a bit of disappointment at home, but we experienced this when we drew with Scotland in the last Euros. 

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    Kane's opener was his fifth goal at the Euros, making him the first England player and the eighth from any country to score five or more in both this competition and the World Cup.

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    Southgate's side dropped deep after going in front, as they did against Serbia and have done in recent tournaments, and Kane believes that is an area that needs working on.

    "It’s not just when we score that [we drop deep]," he said. "It's something we need to get better at. When the teams drop a few players deeper, we're not sure how who's supposed to be pressing. 

    "In the second half we tried to change it a bit with me and Jude [Bellingham] playing in front of their two midfielders and then trying to get up. But it was difficult. Credit to Denmark, they’re a really good side and they carried a threat."

    England have now won just two of their past eight competition meetings with Denmark, and this most recent result means they are unable to rest up against Slovenia.

    Reflecting on the disappointing performance, Southgate told BBC Sport: "The performance was not what we would have hoped. At the moment we're not using the ball well enough, and if you do that you'll suffer as we have at times tonight. There's another level we have to find.

    "There's a huge amount of work to do - that's evident. We have to stay tight. We understand people will be disappointed with the performances, and rightly so. We've got make them better."

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