Massimiliano Allegri not underestimating Napoli as Juve look to end barren run

By Sports Desk March 02, 2024

Massimiliano Allegri is not fooled by Napoli’s position in the Serie A table as Juventus look to end their long hoodoo at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona.

Heading into Sunday’s clash in Naples the reigning champions are only eighth, with visitors Juve 17 points better off and pushing Inter Milan for top spot.

However, the Bianconeri have not taken three points from this away fixture since March 2019 and head coach Allegri knows Francesco Calzona’s men can be very dangerous on home turf.

“Juventus haven’t won in Naples for five years, it won’t be easy,” Allegri said at his Saturday press conference. “It will be a difficult match as they’re a good team and it’s strange to see them in that position in the table.

“We know that there are endless challenges at Napoli; we need to limit their strengths and try to be proactive when we have the ball.

“They’ve just won a tough match against Sassuolo, and with (Victor) Osimhen returning they’ve found their bite again.

“They’ve had their problems this year but the quality of their players has not changed.”

Juve have problems of their own. Their tense win against Frosinone last weekend was a first victory in five attempts and Allegri wants his men to come flying out of the traps in March.

“We’ve been through a difficult period, it wasn’t a good February. We must ensure that March is better than last month.

“Against Frosinone we conceded two avoidable goals and we must do better as a team when defending.

“Now the most beautiful but also more complicated period of the season begins; we must stay focused and know that picking up points becomes more difficult from now.

“Last year we came third, this year if we came second it would be a good result.”

Federico Chiesa and Danilo should be in contention to feature for Juve in Naples while Moise Kean and Mattia Perin will need longer to recover from injuries and Adrien Rabiot and Weston McKennie have outside chances to be involved.

It may not all be doom and gloom for Napoli, for whom Jens Cajuste and Cyril Ngonge are injury doubts, as they ran riot to win 6-1 at Sassuolo last weekend.

Matteo Politano feels the appointment of Calzona as Walter Mazzarri’s replacement on February 19 could be the catalyst for a late-season resurgence.

The Italy midfielder told sscnapoli.it: “He is giving us a lot of motivation but keeping us calm, too.

“Some of us have known him for years, we know how he works and we are totally on board with following his ideas.”

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