Massimiliano Allegri says Juventus do not need to change their style to see the best of Dusan Vlahovic, as the striker prepares to face former club Fiorentina in the Coppa Italia semi-finals.

However, Allegri did acknowledge the Bianconeri must improve their attacking returns after seeing nine Serie A outfits outscore them this season.

After winning the first leg 1-0 in Florence, Juventus, who have progressed from each of their last six Coppa Italia semi-finals, remain among the favourites for a sixth domestic cup triumph in eight seasons, having lifted the trophy in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2021.

The Bianconeri are, though, just the 10th-highest scorers in Serie A despite Vlahovic netting seven goals in 14 appearances in all competitions since his January arrival, having scored 20 in 24 games for his previous employers this term.

Ahead of the Old Lady's decisive cup meeting with Vlahovic's former club, Allegri was adamant Juve did not need to change to accommodate the Serb, but acknowledged improvements were needed.

"Absolutely not," he replied when asked if changes might benefit Vlahovic. "Vlahovic has played 14 games and scored seven goals.

"Right now, we can't play like we did in November or December, because the games weigh more. There is no chance to recover.

"We need to improve the tenth place in the ranking of goals scored, we need to be more concrete.

"In football there is one thing that remains old, but it still counts: the goal difference, which then leads you to win or lose the championships."

Allegri has reached the Coppa Italia final four times as Juventus manager, already more than any other Bianconeri manager in history. His only elimination before the competition's final came in 2018-19's quarter-finals, a 3-0 loss to Atalanta.

The 54-year-old lifted Italy's domestic cup on all four occasions where he reached the final, and says Juve's strong run will count for nothing if they fall short of winning the trophy.

Although he also emphasised the importance of a top-four league finish and said a semi-final win would not "turn around" the season, he noted that reaching a final was a "good goal".

"The Coppa Italia only counts if you win it," he added. "If you lose it, you have failed completely. As for the championship, Juve must now think about finishing in the top four. 

"In early January, no one would have expected Juventus to be five points clear of fifth [Roma] with five games to go. Now we have to be good at defending [against] them.

"We haven't won games in which we played well, we lacked that little bit more to make the leap forward. We have to work on this, and the next year will surely be better.

"Tomorrow's game does not make the season turn around, but it will allow us to go to the final and it would be a good goal."

Juventus have lost only one of their last 25 home games in the Coppa Italia (winning 20 and drawing four). Coincidentally, this was a defeat against Fiorentina in the 2014-15 semi-finals, when Mohamed Salah netted a brace for the Viola and Fernando Llorente scored for the Bianconeri.

Simone Inzaghi thinks Inter's recent struggles against rivals Milan will act as extra motivation ahead of their Coppa Italia semi-final second leg.

Inter face Serie A leaders Milan on Tuesday, bidding for a first appearance in the Coppa Italia final since they defeated Palermo to lift the trophy in 2011.

Inter, however, have failed to win any of the three previous derby encounters this season, picking up just a single point in their two league meetings before drawing the first leg of the semi-final 0-0.

Three winless derbies marks Inter's worst such run against the Rossoneri since 2005, but Inzaghi believes the Nerazzurri can use those results to give them an edge this time.

"We've had three derbies so far, two in the league and one in the Coppa Italia," Inzaghi told a news conference.

"We know we have to [win], and we want to win tomorrow because we want to reach the final.

"We could've got more [from the previous games]. We needed to be sharper to make key moments go our way, as they can be pivotal. It's such an important game.

"Certainly [the results could motivate Inter]. The three derbies have all been different. We played very well in the first two, whereas the two teams cancelled each other out in the last one, knowing that there was a second leg to come.

"That was a very cagey game. The team knows that, and we know it's a wonderful chance for us, which we want to grab with both hands.

"We're on track to achieve both of our targets. We're doing very well and mustn't forget that we also won the Italian Super Cup in January."

Inter have been eliminated in each of their last four Coppa Italia semi-final ties, having progressed on six of their previous seven appearances at this stage. Overall, no team has suffered more semi-final eliminations than Inter (19).

Meanwhile, Inter failed to score when classified as the away team in last month's first leg, leaving them at risk of losing on away goals if they concede.

Inzaghi believes, as is the case in UEFA competitions, that the rule should have been abolished this season.

"There had already been talk about the away goal rule before the first leg, but it was too late," he added.

"I think it should've been the same as it is in Europe, but once the decision was made, it's only fair for it to carry on in the same way [as earlier in the competition].

"We'll need to be even more focused, because as we didn't score in the first leg, every moment in the game could prove to be decisive.

"We know how important away goals could be, so we'll have to be fully focused at every point in the game, knowing that we're up against a top side. We'll need to keep focused for the full 95 minutes and for possible extra time as well."

Inter and Milan have faced off in the Coppa Italia on 26 previous occasions, with the Nerazzurri managing eight wins.

Milan's Coppa Italia semi-final against rivals Inter will not have a decisive effect on the Serie A title race, according to Stefano Pioli.

Inter trail Serie A leaders Milan by two points, though now the focus switches to the second leg of their Coppa Italia tie.

The Milan giants played out a 0-0 draw in last month's semi-final first leg at San Siro, and will do battle again on Tuesday with 10 editions of the Coppa Italia having passed since either lifted the trophy. 

While Milan will be desperate to lift Italy's domestic cup for the first time since 2003, Pioli does not believe Tuesday's result will give either team an advantage in Serie A.

"From now until the end, we need to try and win all our matches," Pioli said. "The team are very focused and motivated, and positive energy must accompany us.

"We know very well what we need to do in the league, and I don't think tomorrow's derby will be decisive in this regard. 

"We need to try and win all our Serie A games, regardless of what happens in the Coppa Italia."

Having picked up a win and a draw from the teams' Serie A encounters this term, Milan are on their longest unbeaten run against their rivals (three matches) since a 10-game sequence ending in 2005.

This is the 14th season in which Milan and Inter will face each other on four occasions, and the first since 2004-05, when Milan managed three wins and a draw. The Rossoneri have gone unbeaten throughout all four clashes on seven of the previous 13 instances, but Pioli was mindful of the threat posed by Simone Inzaghi's team.

"All of our past experiences have allowed us to become a team with more awareness," he added. "Every single one of our matches against Inter have been difficult, and the details will make the difference tomorrow.

"There will be moments where we need to put our foot on the pedal, and others where we need to slow down. Inter can be dangerous when given space, and we need to manage the ball as best we can."

Milan's pursuit of silverware has been boosted by a run of seven consecutive clean sheets in all competitions, a sequence that began with Pioli's men denying Inter an important away goal in the first leg.

"Not conceding is important," Pioli added. "I'm a bit surprised because we're a team that takes a few risks in our defending, but the whole team have grown in a significant way. We need to reach high standards when it comes to our application, intensity and focus.

"Our attitude against Inter has always been very consistent, even if it's difficult to prevent them from creating dangerous situations. They take up positions that will force us to do a lot of running, but we have a strategy that we'll try to implement as best we can."

Juventus midfielder Manuel Locatelli faces up to a month out of action after the midfielder sustained a knee injury in the 1-0 loss against Inter on Sunday.

The Italy international, who tested positive for COVID-19 in March, started in the Derby d'Italia but suffered a knock in the first half and was replaced by Denis Zakaria after just 34 minutes.

Bianconeri head coach Massimiliano Allegri appeared unworried by the damage to the 24-year-old after the match, but Juve provided another update on Monday.

Scans have confirmed a problem in the ligament of Locatelli's right knee that is estimated to keep him out for a month, which means he will likely miss Serie A clashes with Cagliari, Bologna, Sassuolo and Venezia.

Locatelli will also be absent for the second leg of the Coppa Italia semi-final on April 20 against Fiorentina, who lost the first meeting 1-0, as Juve look to defend their title.

He has played an integral role this season for Allegri's side, who sit fourth in Serie A after their 16-game league unbeaten run ended against Inter.

Indeed, only Alvaro Morata (30) has featured in more top-flight games than Locatelli for Juve this campaign (29), while Juan Cuadrado (1,283) and Matthijs de Ligt (1,317) are the only players to complete more passes than him (1,141).

Locatelli has won 15 of the Serie A games he has appeared in this term, with De Ligt, Morata, Cuadrado and Moise Kean (all 16) the only players to boast better returns.

Juve will be hoping that Zakaria, Adrien Rabiot and Arthur can step up in Locatelli's absence when they visit Cagliari on Saturday.

Massimiliano Allegri called on Dusan Vlahovic to be more unpredictable after his limited impact for Juventus on his return to former club Fiorentina.

Emotions were high as Vlahovic received a hostile welcome from the home fans back at the Stadio Artemio Franchi in the first leg of the Coppa Italia semi-final.

Vlahovic, who followed a well-worn path in trading Fiorentina for hated rivals Juve in January for an initial fee of €70million, saw his influence restricted in a pulsating game.

Fiorentina dominated possession and wasted several chances to take the lead, while at the other end Vlahovic registered just 36 touches, the lowest of any Juve player to start and finish the game, with only two of those coming in the opposition box.

He was thwarted by Pietro Terracciano with one of his two shots, but the Fiorentina goalkeeper could do nothing as Juve clinched a 1-0 victory in stoppage time, the hosts punished for their profligacy when Lorenzo Venuti inadvertently deflected Juan Cuadrado's cross into his own net.

That meant an ineffectual performance from Vlahovic was immaterial, with Allegri focusing on his strengths while delivering a pointer to the man who scored 33 times in Serie A in 2021, equalling the competition's calendar-year record set by Cristiano Ronaldo – the man he was bought to replace in Turin.

"Vlahovic is very good at playing with the team, we have more of a link now between the midfielders and forwards, so that too is progress," Allegri told Mediaset.

"It's important to move around and be more unpredictable, as the simplest and toughest thing in football is to avoid marking."

"We have to congratulate Fiorentina on a good performance," he added. 

"We suffered with two counter-attacks in the first half, again in the second, and fortunately we didn't concede because they made mistakes.

"I liked the way we were organised today and only ran risks on counter-attacks. We knew Fiorentina liked to overlap on the flanks and put crosses in, so there wouldn't be a threat through the centre.

"We should've kept the ball in their half more, but I saw progress."

Dusan Vlahovic was kept at bay by old club Fiorentina but Juventus claimed a dramatic late 1-0 win in the first leg of their Coppa Italia semi-final.

Emotions were high as Vlahovic made his return to Florence following his January transfer for an initial fee of €70million, the Serbian talisman frequently whistled by a raucous home crowd.

The noise at the Stadio Artemio Franchi inspired Fiorentina, who were the better side throughout a pulsating contest, and they would be taking an advantage to the second leg in Turin had Jonathan Ikone not spurned a pair of gilt-edged chances.

They were ultimately made to pay for their profligacy in stoppage time when Juan Cuadrado's wicked right-wing delivery cannoned off an unfortunate Lorenzo Venuti and over the line to give Juve the advantage going into next month's return leg in Turin.

 

What do Dusan Vlahovic, Dodi Lukebakio and Gaetan Laborde all have in common?

As of this moment, not much – aside from having been touted as the next Newcastle United signing. But if Vlahovic gets a goal for Juventus against Fiorentina on Wednesday, he will join Wolfsburg's Lukebakio (who joined on loan from Hertha Berlin) and Rennes' Laborde (who signed from Montpellier) as the only players in Europe's top five leagues to score for and against the same team this season.

Vlahovic said his feelings were "a bit mixed" as he contemplated facing the Viola at the Artemio Franchi, where he spent four years after joining as an 18-year-old from Partizan. "It's a bit strange," he told DAZN, to prepare for a game against the team for whom he scored 33 times in Serie A in 2021, equalling the competition's calendar-year record set by Cristiano Ronaldo – the man he was bought to replace in Turin.

The sentiment among Fiorentina's faithful will be a bit more, well, partisan. Vlahovic's January transfer, completed on his 22nd birthday for an initial fee of €70million, sparked levels of fury among the fan base arguably not seen since the Roberto Baggio riots of the early 1990s. Fiorentina ultras vented their anger not just at the player, but at the club itself, lambasting president Rocco Commisso for doing deals with "the ultimate evil" after previously promising never to sell their best players to the hated Bianconeri.

Meanwhile, Vlahovic has got on with the day job of scoring goals, and with three in his past two games, Juve are beginning to hope of a surprise late challenge for the Champions League and Serie A titles. Before then comes the small matter of a Coppa Italia semi-final in Florence, and the chance for Vlahovic to take a step closer to a first trophy outside Serbia by knocking out his old employers.

And he wouldn't be the first Juve player to return to haunt Fiorentina...

Roberto Baggio

Baggio isn't the sole reason Fiorentina don't like Juventus, but ask someone to explain the rivalry and his name will likely come up pretty quickly.

The pony-tailed posterboy of Italian football developed into a star in his five years in Tuscany even before his rise to global fame at the 1990 World Cup on home soil. It was in that same year that Juve signed him from Fiorentina for an approximate fee of £8million, smashing the world transfer record and sparking furious Fiorentina fans to take to the streets in protest.

Baggio claimed he never really wanted to leave and, when he returned to face them in Bianconeri colours on April 7, he refused to take a penalty ostensibly out of concern that goalkeeper Gianmatteo Mareggini would know where he would put it. Luigi Di Biagio stepped up instead, missed, and Juve lost. Picking up a Fiorentina scarf didn't help Baggio to endear himself to the Juve faithful, either.

Still, over the next five years, Baggio would fire them to Serie A, Coppa Italia and UEFA Cup glory and become the first Italian since Paolo Rossi in 1982 to win the Ballon d'Or (it would be 13 more years before another, Fabio Cannavaro, did the same).

Giorgio Chiellini

If Baggio's transfer sparked a riot, Giorgio Chiellini's permanent move to Juve in 2005 prompted more of a quiet grumble. He spent 2004-05 with the Viola after they and Juve reached a co-ownership deal, so it was always anticipated the suits in Turin might stump up the full amount for his registration rights.

Of course, watching Chiellini win nine Scudetti, five Coppa Italia crowns and Euro 2020 as part of a glittering Azzurri career has left plenty of Fiorentina fans with an unshakeable sense of 'what if'.

In December 2005, Chiellini started against Fiorentina in a frankly unfair back four that also featured Lillian Thuram, Fabio Cannavaro and Gianluca Zambrotta, with Juve claiming a 2-1 win thanks to Mauro Camoranesi's 88th-minute goal. 

He's since gone on to face Fiorentina 17 times in Serie A, losing just twice. But, more importantly, Chiellini has become a Juve great – he is just two games away from putting himself third behind Alessandro Del Piero and Gianluigi Buffon on the club's all-time appearances list.

Federico Bernardeschi

Bernardeschi may have moved out of season, but that didn't stop Fiorentina fans venting their anger in response to his €40m switch. They hung a banner outside the stadium that made their displeasure fairly clear. It read: "Who wouldn't like to spit in your face… you s***** hunchback".

His move to the Old Lady came after a something of a breakthrough season as he scored 11 times in Serie A – that was an improvement of nine from the two he'd got the previous campaign.

Unsurprisingly he was jeered and targeted by banners on his first return to Florence in February 2018, though Bernardeschi had the last laugh, curling a free-kick in as Juve won 2-0. It's fair to say he didn't abstain from celebrating, letting out a huge scream.

"I celebrated when I scored because I believe a professional should respect the fans. I've always been grateful to Fiorentina, and always will, for the way they looked after me and helped me develop, but I made a career choice and now I play for another team," he told Sky Sport Italia at the time.

But Bernardeschi's struggled to have the same kind of importance to Juve, rather being used as more of a utility and back-up player, which is reflected by the fact he's scored just eight league goals for the club.

Federico Chiesa

If Fiorentina fans are upset on Wednesday, just wait until next season when Federico Chiesa is fit again and lining up alongside Vlahovic. The pair appeared together 41 times for the Viola before Chiesa's October 2020 departure for Turin.

Chiesa, who is out for the rest of the season following damage to his anterior cruciate ligament, will be a permanent Juve player in 2022-23. For now, remarkably, he is merely on loan from Fiorentina.

Such deals that appear to favour the buying club are not uncommon in Serie A, but Fiorentina supporters could be forgiven for being furious as their club again accommodated the transfer of a star player to their bitter rivals.

Chiesa – the son of former Fiorentina forward Enrico – dazzled in his final full season in Florence, with 11 goals and six assists, and has done likewise for Juve following a slightly tricky start. At the time of his injury – before Vlahovic's arrival – he was the Bianconeri's standout performer.

Inter boss Simone Inzaghi blamed fatigue levels for his team's limp performance against Milan in the Coppa Italia semi-finals, admitting the Nerazzurri are still "licking their wounds" after losing to their rivals in Serie A last month.

Inzaghi's men managed just seven shots at goal and created a disappointing 0.30 expected goals in the 0-0 first-leg stalemate, extending their winless run to five matches in all competitions.

That is their longest such streak since a sequence of 10 without winning in February 2018, and has also seen the reigning champions surrender top spot in Serie A to Napoli.

Inter have also failed to win any of the three Milan derbies played this season, going down to an Olivier Giroud double in league action just last month, and Inzaghi believes their previous loss to the Rossoneri, as well as their recent physical exertions, have taken a heavy toll.

"I think the draw was the right result," Inzaghi told Mediaset. "We are still licking our wounds after losing the Serie A derby 2-1, that looked completely different until the 75th minute [Inter led for the majority of that contest].

"I think this derby was less spectacular compared to the other two, as there was a lot at stake. The two teams were anxious and looking at the 180 minutes.

"We want to reach the Final and win another trophy [but] knowing this was our 36th game of the season, we need to regain sharpness, but we are working on it.

"We're playing a lot. Apart from one error we made playing out from the back and a Handanovic save, I don't remember other Milan chances."

Milan boss Stefano Pioli believes his side deserved to beat rivals Inter in the first leg of their Coppa Italia semi-final clash, but also claimed the goalless draw represented a "good result".

The Milanese giants, who are split by just two points in a fierce Serie A title race, could not be separated at San Siro, with the lively Rafael Leao and Rade Krunic going closest for the more adventurous Rossoneri. 

Milan managed 13 attempts to Inter's seven in a cagey encounter, also creating 0.70 expected goals to the below-par Nerazzurri's 0.30, but were unable to break the deadlock. 

Although Pioli felt his team merited more from the encounter, he also professed himself pleased with the result, with Italy's preservation of the away goals rule perhaps making the Rossoneri slight favourites ahead of April's second leg.

"Milan played well and deserved something more," Pioli told Mediaset. "But if we look at it over the two legs, it is a good result. I still think we deserved a victory.

"It's only a partial result, we know the second [leg] will be very difficult, but I am satisfied with the performance. 

"We've made progress over the last two and a half years, we would like to win something and make this a wonderful season.

"The team was aggressive against an Inter side with a great deal of quality. We didn't allow Inter any real shots on goal and had chances of our own.

"It's disappointing we were unable to win the match and it all goes down to the second leg, [but] I really liked the performance and we should gain even more confidence from it, because we are a team who belong at this level."

Neither Milan nor Inter could establish a lead in the first leg of their Coppa Italia semi-final tie, as the Serie A title contenders played out a goalless draw at San Siro.

Rafeal Leao caused problems for Inter in a match where chances were at a premium, but the Rossoneri were unable to make their superiority count against their out-of-form city rivals.

With Italy's domestic cup not following UEFA's example of removing the away goals rule, however, the stalemate will certainly be more kindly looked upon on the red side of Milan, who are level on points with Napoli at the top and two ahead of Inter in a fierce race for the Scudetto.

Alexis Saelemaekers tested Samir Handanovic during a frantic start after the stadium observed a heartfelt message from Milan's Ukrainian legend Andriy Shevchenko, who scored in their last Coppa Italia final win in 2003.

Milan's Theo Hernandez shot wide after a trademark burst forward, while Alessio Romagnoli denied Inter with a superb defensive header on 20 minutes before limping out of the contest injured.

Stefano Pioli's men enjoyed the better of the first period, with Rade Krunic shooting over from a great position and the lively Leao troubling Inter in an otherwise uninspiring opening 45 minutes.

Dusan Vlahovic will always be grateful to Fiorentina and is calm ahead of his first return to Florence, according to Juventus head coach Massimiliano Allegri.

The Serbia international joined Juve for an initial €70million free in January, bringing an end to a three-and-a-half-year stay at Stadio Artemio Franchi.

Vlahovic had previously turned down the offer of a new contract with Fiorentina, forcing the club's hand somewhat as he had just 18 months to run on his existing deal.

After reportedly rejecting proposals from Premier League sides Arsenal, Tottenham and Newcastle United among others, Vlahovic instead opted for Serie A rivals Juventus.

Having also lost Federico Bernardeschi and Federico Chiesa to Juve in recent years, Vlahovic's choice of club did not go down well with Fiorentina's devoted supporters.

The forward's home is reported to have been under surveillance in the days leading up to the transfer, while some fans took to the streets to protest.

And in an open letter published in January, Fiorentina fans labelled Serie A top scorer Vlahovic "a coward" for joining Juve.

Ahead of Wednesday's Coppa Italia semi-final first leg, Fiorentina released a statement asking their fans to avoid derogatory and racist chants aimed towards the striker.

Allegri did not confirm whether Vlahovic would start against his former side, but he expects the 22-year-old to perform well regardless of the reception he receives.

"I believe in the intelligence and culture of the Florentine fans," Allegri said at Tuesday's pre-match news conference. 

"Vlahovic will always be grateful to everyone in Florence, society and the environment, who raised him and allowed him to arrive at Juventus. 

"He is calm. It's normal. He's a 22-year-old boy who returns to an environment where he grew up and gave him the opportunity to go to Juventus. 

"It is normal there is emotion. For him it will still be a particular match, but it is serene and so he must remain calm, otherwise he would never play against Fiorentina again.

"There are steps to be taken for the boy to mature."

Vlahovic matched Cristiano Ronaldo's high mark of the past 60 years in scoring 33 Serie A goals in a single calendar year when doing so in 2021.

He has carried that form with him to Turin, his four goals at least three more than any Juve team-mate since his debut against Verona on February 6.

Indeed, Vlahovic scored the fastest debut goal in Champions League history last week with his strike just 32 seconds into the 1-1 last-16 first-leg draw with Villarreal.

Should he score again in midweek, Vlahovic would become the third player in Europe's top five leagues after Dodi Lukebakio (Wolfsburg) and Gaetan Laborde (Montpellier) to net for and against any one team in all competitions this season.

While Allegri is pleased with the Serbia international's instant impact, however, he accepts there is room for improvement in other departments, with Juve winning just one of their past four games.

"We need to improve something else," he said. "We have conceded very avoidable goals, and it means that after scoring and everything seems to be done, we relax a bit. 

"In the last few games, we slept on goals, so we need to reactivate our attention, because when we lose fear, we become dangerous; not perceiving danger becomes a problem. 

"We could have conceded goals but not in those situations. From now until the end of the season, conceding few goals means reaching the top four."

Stefano Pioli called for Milan to "turn into winners" and battle through an underwhelming run of form ahead of crucial clashes with Inter and Napoli.

The Rossoneri sit level on points with Serie A leaders Napoli, who required a last-gasp winner against Lazio on Sunday, after being held in consecutive games by strugglers Salernitana and Udinese.

Pioli's side are two points ahead of Inter, who they face in the first leg of their Coppa Italia semi-final tie on Tuesday, but the Nerazzurri boast a game in hand on both their fellow title contenders.

Ahead of what is likely to be a pivotal week, Pioli demanded improvements from his team, though he insisted Milan can only focus on the future from now on.

"It's only the first leg, but it's an important step. The help from our fans will be decisive," Pili said at Monday's pre-match news conference ahead of the cup meeting with Inter.

"We are in the decisive moment of the season. We've done an extraordinary path in the last two and a half years, but only what we'll do from tomorrow will count.

"We can be better than in the last two games. We've done a lot and it's time to reap the rewards. It's the last step, the most difficult one, which is turning into winners."

While stressing the importance of improving sooner rather than later, Pioli acknowledged that there still remains a healthy portion of the season left to play as the title race continues to ebb and flow.

"The table is telling that this is a balanced league, it's a difficult season for everybody and there are no favourites in the derby," he added.

"Those who win the most duels will have more chances to win. It's an important week, but not decisive. There is a second leg in Coppa Italia and there will be 10 more Serie A games after the match with Napoli."

Pioli also did not hide away from his side's recent struggles, after they recorded consecutive top-flight draws for the first time since December 2020.

"Numbers do not lie. We've had difficulties," Pioli continued.

"We were not able to kill the games off and we should have kept more control. Anything can happen when you defend deep, we must be more aggressive when we do not have the ball.

"We do well when we go at full pace, but we must improve handling certain situations, especially when the opponents are waiting for us. 

"We have analysed what didn't work and we are ready to put what we've learned into practice."

Juventus head coach Massimiliano Allegri previously suggested that 85 points will be required to win the Scudetto, and Pioli does not think his fellow boss was too far off the mark.

"The top five teams are in the race for the title and a Champions League spot," he responded when asked about the title race.

"Everyone has slowed down a little, 11 games are remaining and every game will be difficult. Surely more than 80 points will be needed."

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has vowed he will not call quits on his career until he has "won something with this Milan side".

The Sweden international celebrated Scudetto success in 2011 with Milan and lifted the Supercoppa Italiana the following season, but Stefano Pioli's side are yet to lift a trophy since the striker returned in 2019.

The Rossoneri sit second in Serie A this campaign, having been displaced by Napoli – who required a last-gasp winner to defeat Lazio on Sunday – following a disappointing 1-1 draw at home to strugglers Udinese.

Pioli's team are also still in contention for the Coppa Italia as they face neighbours Inter across a two-legged semi-final tie, the first leg of which comes on Tuesday.

Ibrahimovic, who has been sidelined with an Achilles injury sustained against Juventus on January 23, insists he will not retire until he has won something with the current Milan outfit.

"My future is football, my world is football," Ibrahimovic told reporters.

"I am disappointed that I am not able to play at the moment, this really pains me, especially when the team is doing well. 

"I want to be there and help the team. We've done great things since I arrived, and now we are only missing one element: a trophy.

"We are fighting to achieve this, I won't quit until I have won something with this Milan side."

Ibrahimovic penned a one-year extension at Milan last April to keep him at the club until the end of the season.

The 40-year-old has not featured in over a month but has eight goals in all competitions this season, with no Milan player scoring at a greater rate than his average of one every 133 minutes.

Milan, without Ibrahimovic, will look to get back to winning ways in the league when they visit fellow title contenders Napoli on Sunday after their Coppa Italia clash with Inter.

Juventus head coach Massimiliano Allegri hailed new signings Dusan Vlahovic and Denis Zakaria but acknowledged his side were lucky to edge past Sassuolo in the Coppa Italia. 

Paulo Dybala fired in the opener at the Allianz Stadium after just three minutes in Thursday's quarter-final, but Hamed Traore soon restored parity 

Allegri's side twice struck the woodwork in the second half, with Matthijis de Ligt missing a gilt-edged opportunity, but a late winner arrived when Vlahovic's effort deflected past Gianluca Pegolo after an attempted Ruan block. 

Victory meant Juve have qualified for the Coppa Italia semi-finals in seven of the last eight seasons, while no side has made it past the quarter-final stage on more occasions than the Bianconeri (10) since the 2006-07 season. 

Much of the credit Allegri gave to his players after the game was aimed at new additions Zakaria and Vlahovic, the latter of whom made a January move from Fiorentina in a transfer that could be worth up to €80million. 

 

"We are happy with the signings of Vlahovic and Zakaria, who have integrated well," Allegri told Mediaset. 

"We are happy to have Vlahovic, who still needs to improve as much at attacking the depth better, but this is part of the improvement of each player.  

"We also had luck after a good second half, their goal made us leave the game but then we woke up." 

Juve's fortunes have slowly been changing. They have won nine of their 13 games since the start of December and have moved up to fourth in Serie A – eight points behind leaders Inter, who have a game in hand. 

But when asked if Juve could make a late charge for the Scudetto, Allegri swiftly dismissed the suggestions: "We are potentially 11 points behind Inter.  

"We have to make the race against Atalanta and we will have to be ready: it will be head-to-head until the end. The others are out of reach." 

Vlahovic may take the plaudits, including from Allegri, for his role in the winning goal, but he failed to replicate the form he showed when scoring on his debut against Hellas Verona last Sunday. 

The striker missed the target with three of his five shots, while also squandering a glorious first-half chance, but the Serbia international expressed his satisfaction with how he is settling in as he heaped praise on his attacking colleagues Dybala and Alvaro Morata. 

"We are only at the beginning, but as I said last time, I owe a lot to my team-mates, to the coach, to the whole club, who have welcomed me very well, they are helping me a lot," Vlahovic said. 

"It would not have been possible without the team. For me it is an honour to play here, to help my team-mates and to be available to the team. 

"They [Dybala and Morata] are two very good guys, after great champions, great players, they have won a lot. I'm the youngest, I'm here to listen to them and try to reach their levels." 

The Bianconeri will look to continue their fine run of form when they return to Serie A action against fellow top-four contenders Atalanta on Sunday. 

Atalanta director general Umberto Marino was unhappy with what he believed was a "serious error" to allow Nikola Milenkovic's 93rd-minute winner to stand as Fiorentina triumphed 3-2 at Gewiss Stadium in the Coppa Italia quarter-finals. 

A ninth-minute Krzysztof Piatek penalty was overturned by goals from Davide Zappacosta and Jeremie Boga to give Atalanta the lead. 

Piatek equalised with 20 minutes remaining after having a penalty saved by Juan Musso, before Milenkovic hit a superb volleyed winner in the last few seconds of stoppage time. 

La Viola – who also had Lucas Martinez Quarta sent off with 10 minutes remaining for a second yellow card – celebrated wildly, but the hosts were unhappy the VAR chose not to overturn it, believing Giacomo Bonaventura was offside in the build-up. 

Speaking after the game, Marino told Sport Mediaset: "I can only congratulate Fiorentina and accept what happened. There are games when you get the feeling it is an uphill struggle for you and nothing is going to go your way. 

"Fiorentina always seem to have penalties against us, I don't know if they were the right decisions or not, but it's the third goal where we have serious problems. 

"Merih Demiral told me there was no foul for the free-kick that led to the goal, but I also have to ask if that Marten de Roon touch was sufficient to put Bonaventura back onside, then I have evidently understood nothing about football over all these years. 

"Mistakes can happen even with VAR, unfortunately they are happening a bit too often, including in Serie A. Not seeing an offside like that is in my view a serious error. 

"It is disappointing to miss out on a semi-final because of an incident like that in the 93rd minute. It is a serious error, I repeat, but errors are part of sport. 

"We simply have to accept them and move on." 

Fiorentina boss Vincenzo Italiano admitted he took a risk on the set-piece that led to the winner, sending several players forward in an attempt to avoid extra time with a man fewer. 

"It was a game where I think before their equaliser, we were controlling the situation and had chances to go 2-0 up, but they equalised at the first opportunity," he said. 

"At the end, I called everyone forward on the free-kick because there was genuine fear of playing extra time down to 10 men. We were aggressive, brave and lucky too to believe right to the very end." 

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