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.

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."

Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri hailed the quality that Dusan Vlahovic has brought to the Bianconeri squad after he netted two superb goals in a 3-2 win at Empoli.

Vlahovic netted twice after Moise Kean had opened the scoring for the Old Lady in a win which saw them consolidate fourth place in Serie A, although they had to survive a late onslaught from their lively hosts.

The Serbian striker now has 20 Serie A goals this season, while the victory has given Juventus a six-point cushion over fifth-placed Atalanta, ahead of Gian Piero Gasperini's team's clash with Sampdoria on Monday.

Vlahovic's neat finishes proved the difference in a hard-fought encounter in which Empoli managed 11 attempts to the visitors' 12.

Allegri was keen to praise the in-form striker for the qualities he displayed.

"Vlahovic is an important player, he has character as well as quality," Allegri said. "You could tell straight away this lad has character, wants to win and is eager to learn. 

"He has the kind of characteristics we didn't have in the squad.

"He moved a lot more in this game, didn't just stay central, and that was a big advantage for him and for us."

 

Allegri was also asked how his number seven compared to the man who wore that shirt during his last spell in charge in Turin, two-time Serie A player of the year Cristiano Ronaldo.

"I don't think you can compare them," he said. "The previous seven won the Ballon d'Or five times, whereas Vlahovic is at the beginning of his career. 

"A good game isn't enough, [for comparisons with Ronaldo] you need immense mental strength, and he is at the start of his journey."

Vlahovic has now scored two or more goals on nine occasions in Serie A since the beginning of the 2020-21 campaign, equalling Ronaldo's tally of multiple-goal hauls in Italy during the same period.

Allegri also professed himself pleased with the forward options at his disposal, as both Kean and Alvaro Morata recorded goal involvements, but the Bianconeri boss maintained that Juventus are not contenders for the Serie A title.

He added: "Kean struggles with his back to goal and coming back to connect with the midfield, but he does well when wide and attacking the box. Alvaro Morata is the same, he gave a great pass to Vlahovic for the third goal.

"Football is very simple, you just have to put players in roles where they can work to their characteristics.

"We couldn't do that for four or five months, so we had to adapt, but we stayed in range of the top four and now we'll see what happens.

"I remain fully convinced it will take 84 to 85 points minimum to win the Scudetto. Our objective is to finish in the top four and we need to be consistent, because there's Atalanta, Fiorentina, Lazio are coming up too.

"The title will be a battle between those three up there [Milan, Inter, and Napoli]."

Juventus are now unbeaten in their last 13 Serie A games, their longest such run since a 14-match run under Maurizio Sarri between August and December 2019.

Dusan Vlahovic continued his fine form as Juventus boosted their Serie A top-four hopes with a hard-fought 3-2 win over Empoli.

Moise Kean's header and Vlahovic's neat finish came either side of Szymon Zurkowski's scrappy leveller, as Juve established a 2-1 half-time advantage on Saturday.

Vlahovic's sublime lob put Juve two ahead, though Andrea La Mantia's goal produced a nervous ending for the visitors.

Yet Massimiliano Allegri's team stood firm amid late pressure to move six points clear in fourth place.

Danilo and Denis Zakaria both passed up good opportunities in the early exchanges but the visitors broke the deadlock when Kean met Adrien Rabiot's cross, powering a header past Guglielmo Vicario.

Juve suffered an injury blow when the impressive Zakaria limped off, before Empoli levelled as Zurkowski evaded the visitors' statuesque defenders to prod home from a corner.

Juve were not to be denied their half-time lead, however, with the superb Vlahovic turning smartly on Juan Cuadrado's pass before drilling home.

Massimiliano Allegri insisted it is "actually impossible" for Juventus to recover to win the Scudetto as he previewed Saturday's clash with Empoli.

The Bianconeri have enjoyed an upturn in form since struggling at the start of the Serie A campaign, sitting in fourth as they fight with Atalanta for the final Champions League qualification spot.

Juve are also still in Europe's elite competition – their last-16 tie with Villarreal finely poised after a 1-1 draw in the first leg – and the Coppa Italia, where they face Fiorentina in a two-legged semi-final clash across March and April.

Allegri was quick to quash suggestions Juve – who are unbeaten in 12 Serie A games – can still win the Scudetto this season, revealing he may rest either Dusan Vlahovic or Alvaro Morata on Saturday as he eyes success elsewhere.

"Tomorrow, Moise Kean could play. If he does, one of Vlahovic or Alvaro Morata will rest," Allegri said at Friday's pre-match news conference.

"Kean always has chances to score, so I am very calm. We are fighting on all fronts, even if the Scudetto is hard. Actually, impossible.

"We are out of the title race, I think that 85 points will be enough to win the title and we can't reach that. We have a Coppa Italia semi-final against Fiorentina and the Champions League against Villarreal.

"At the moment, it's a good season. Let's see which trophies we can lift, it's not easy to win every year. The important thing is to improve, but we have to do more in some situations."

 

Juve could be 12 points adrift of leaders Milan by the time they are next in action, given Stefano Pioli's men host Udinese on Friday.

Juve have won each of their last four top-flight visits to Empoli and Aurelio Andreazzoli's side are winless in nine Serie A matches, their longest such streak since November 2018, but Allegri is aware of the threat they could pose.

"We lost in the reverse fixture and it's never easy to play at Empoli," he added.

"We need to give continuity to our recent results. We need solid performance and recharge batteries, physically and mentally.

"Empoli have three offensive players, it's difficult to play against them. They have no problems in the table, we know that we must win tomorrow.

"We made many mistakes in Spain and didn't make the most of some opportunities.

"We must understand the right moment to 'kill' the opponents. We were doing well against Villarreal, but then we conceded a goal because we were too naive.

"When you play at a high level, you can't give your opponents the chance to get back in the game."

Allegri will have to do without several key figures as well, with Weston McKennie, Paulo Dybala, Alex Sandro, and Giorgio Chiellini heading a growing list of absentees.

Dusan Vlahovic was left with mixed feelings about his Champions League debut after Juventus' 1-1 draw with Villarreal. 

The former Fiorentina striker found the back of the net just 32 seconds into the first leg of the last-16 tie in Spain – the fastest goal in the competition by a full debutant. 

Vlahovic demonstrated tremendous instincts as he controlled Danilo's lofted ball on his chest and slotted into the far corner past a flat-footed Geronimo Rulli. 

Juventus were unable to preserve their advantage, though. Dani Parejo equalised in the 66th minute to leave the contest finely poised ahead of the second leg on March 16. 

While the Serbia international was thrilled to be on target, he admitted the result took the shine off his achievement. 

"It was huge to score on my debut; it was very emotional. However, I cannot be 100 per cent satisfied because we have not won the game," he said. 

"We have to keep working hard. We played a good game and we could have won.  

"We tried to play well also in the second half but sometimes the opposition do not allow you to do what you want to do. So, congratulations to them for equalising.  

"There are some regrets, but we must just focus on the next game." 

Meanwhile, head coach Massimiliano Allegri was left frustrated by the manner of Villarreal's equaliser. 

An unmarked Parejo was allowed to drift into the penalty area and sweep Etienne Capoue's lofted pass beyond Wojciech Szczesny. 

"We made a bad mistake on their equaliser," Allegri said. "We perfectly knew that they were trying that move and we still allowed them to score. However, the team played a good game in general.  

"We made a few mistakes also in attack; straying offside when we had good chances on the counter-attack.  

"In general, I'm quite satisfied with the performance." 

Dusan Vlahovic scored on his Champions League debut as Juventus were held to a 1-1 draw by Villarreal in the first leg of their last-16 tie.

The former Fiorentina striker broke the deadlock after just 32 seconds at El Madrigal, netting the fastest goal in the competition by a Bianconeri debutant.

But Juve were pegged back when Dani Parejo capitalised on sloppy defending by equalising in the 66th minute.

Neither side could then find a winner, leaving the tie finely poised ahead of the return leg in Turin on March 16.

Leading the line in the Champions League for the first time since his move from Fiorentina, Vlahovic wasted no time in making his mark. 

Latching onto Danilo's long ball, he brilliantly slotted into the far corner past Geronimo Rulli, becoming only the second Juventus player to find the net in the opening minute of a match in the competition.

Villarreal looked to respond in the 13th minute; Alfonso Pedraza embarked on a driving run into the box before feeding Giovani Lo Celso, who was denied by the post.

Wojciech Szczesny was then called into action as he produced smart reflexes to block Arnaut Danjuma's clever flick towards goal.

The hosts turned up the pressure after the break and were rewarded with an equaliser midway through the second half.

Completely unmarked, Parejo collected Etienne Capoue's lofted ball into the area before neatly sweeping past Szczesny.

Adrien Rabiot was fortunate to avoid further punishment when booked for his rash challenge on Samuel Chukwueze, and Juve held on as Villarreal enjoyed a greater share of possession as the clock ticked down.

Dusan Vlahovic made Juventus history by striking inside the opening minute of their Champions League clash with Villarreal on Tuesday.

The Serbia international, who was making his debut in the competition after moving from Fiorentina last month, put the Bianconeri ahead after just 32 seconds at El Madrigal.

Controlling Danilo's long ball before slotting past Geronimo Rulli, Vlahovic became only the third player to score inside the opening minute of his first Champions League start.

Following in the footsteps of Andreas Moller (for Borussia Dortmund against Juventus in 1995) and Ishak Belfodil (for Hoffenheim against Manchester City in 2018), Vlahovic's was the fastest Champions League goal by a debutant playing for Juve.

Only the second Juve player to score in the first minute of any match in this competition – after Alessandro Del Piero against Manchester United in 1997 – the 22-year-old also became the first to net on his Bianconeri debut in the modern knockout-stage format.

It was the earliest goal in a Champions League knockout game since David Alaba struck against Juve after just 24 seconds for Bayern Munich in 2013.

Massimiliano Allegri remains optimistic about Juventus' chances of succeeding in the Coppa Italia and the Champions League.

The Bianconeri occupy the final Champions League qualification spot in Serie A, three points ahead of fifth-placed Atalanta, who have a game in hand.

Allegri's team struggled to find their feet at the start of the season, but they are now unbeaten across seven games in all competitions, including a 2-1 win over Sassuolo that booked their spot in the Coppa Italia semi-final - where they will meet Fiorentina across a two-legged tie.

While the 54-year-old has repeatedly quashed claims that Juve could mount a late charge for the Scudetto, he suggested his side fancy their chances in the other two competitions they are in.

"We play to win, both the Cup and the Champions League, then obviously it all depends on how things go," Allegri told reporters ahead of Tuesday's away first-leg clash with Villarreal in the Champions League last 16.

"How does our approach change with the new away goals rule? I don't know yet, in the meantime let's think about getting a result.

"Order, technique and patience: it is unlikely that the next round will be decided on Tuesday. The derby [a 1-1 draw with Torino] was a hard-fought game, Juve played a good game, but you always need to be calm and balanced in the analysis.

"At the beginning of the season against Torino, we would have lost. I'm happy with the team's approach, so I want to see them play well with and without the ball against Villarreal. We will have to be both good and lucky."

Juve's upturn in form has coincided with the January signing of Dusan Vlahovic, who moved from Fiorentina in a deal that could be worth up to €80million.

However, Juve will be without talisman Paulo Dybala – who leads the club scoring and assist charts this season (12 goals, six assists) – after the forward sustained a muscle injury against Torino.

In the Argentina international's absence, Allegri confirmed that new star Vlahovic will be supported by Alvaro Morata, who has scored in two of his last four appearances against Villarreal in all competitions (two goals).

"Alvaro Morata and Vlahovic play up top, then let's see for the rest," he continued. "I have some doubts in midfield.

"We must not give an excessive load of responsibility to Vlahovic - this is his [Champions League] debut, let's not forget that. I must also protect him as I have done with others. He is just 22 years old."

Allegri has progressed from four of his previous five round-of-16 ties in charge of Juventus in the Champions League, with his only elimination coming against Pep Guardiola’s Bayern Munich in 2015-16.

Meanwhile, Villarreal head coach Unai Emery has only won one of his six games as a head coach in the knockout stages of the competition (D1 L4), losing each of the last three in a row, but Allegri reserved praise for his opposite number.

"It is not an easy tie - Villarreal have a good coach, they have technique, physicality and also they have come from a good period," he added. "On our part, we will have to bring maximum effort."

Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri insisted that a 1-1 draw with Torino at Allianz Stadium on Friday continued his team's "positive streak".

The hosts took the lead through a first-half Matthijs de Ligt header, but Andrea Belotti equalised just after the hour mark and Juve struggled to create any meaningful chances in response, failing to hit the target at all in the second half.

The Old Lady remain in fourth place in Serie A, eight points behind leaders Milan having played a game more, and just three points ahead of Atalanta in fifth, who have two games in hand.

Speaking to DAZN after the game, Allegri appeared to be satisfied with both the result and performance.

"It matters because, with the point, we followed up on the positive results we've had in the last two to three months," he said. "It wasn't easy, we weren't brilliant compared to Torino, but we played a good game.

"Paradoxically, we conceded a goal in our best moment. In the first half we had two or three situations where we could have scored, but not in the second half.

"Then we weren't very clean in the second half, but I think it's a normal path, it's natural when you're playing in the league, especially when you're aiming to be in the top four, so a draw isn't to be dismissed.

"I'd say the boys played a good game in terms of commitment and intensity. They tried to win until the end, so it's a point that we take home and allows us to extend the positive streak."

Allegri also seemed unconcerned by the performance of Dusan Vlahovic, who struggled to make an impact, having just one shot all game before coming off in the 74th minute.

The Serbia striker made a January move from Fiorentina in a transfer that could be worth up to €80million. 

"He struggled because he's a very good player, but he has to learn a lot," Allegri added. "As many players have to learn. Tonight, he had to drag Bremer around the pitch and not give him any points of reference, because he is very strong on direct balls and less strong when you drag him around the pitch.

"Let's not forget that he comes from a team who are having a very good season, but he played one game a week. He's played six [here], so I think it's normal for him to grow. It amuses me because someone comes in and has to play every game.

"You have to grow, you have to get used to it, all the things you need in a great team, otherwise physically you can't manage to play a game every three days."

Daniele Rugani was withdrawn from the starting line-up ahead of the game after picking up an injury in the warm-up, while Luca Pellegrini and Paolo Dybala both came off with knocks, but Allegri did not seem concerned despite the upcoming Champions League round-of-16 first leg away at Villarreal on Tuesday.

"I'm not worried at all also because during the season there are injuries and those we have and who are fit and enlisted, will play on Tuesday against Villarreal and then we will prepare for Empoli," he said.

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. 

Dusan Vlahovic is not giving up hope on winning the Serie A title after helping to fire Juventus into fourth on his Bianconeri debut on Sunday.

Vlahovic joined in the January transfer window in a big-money move from Fiorentina and marked his bow with the opener in a 2-0 win over Verona.

The victory left Juventus eight points behind leaders Inter, beaten by rivals Milan on Saturday, although the Nerazzurri have a game in hand.

The Serbian was pleased to have helped his side to three vital points and says Juve have to have belief they are still in the race for the Scudetto.

"It was very important to win this match because these games after the [international] breaks are the most difficult mentally," Vlahovic said to DAZN after the game. "We had a good approach right from the start and in the end, we managed to do what was most important, to win.

"I have to thank my team-mates and the coach who welcomed me very well and helped me a lot, I'm trying to understand as soon as possible how it works here, I just have to continue like this and work harder. The most important thing is to have won today.

"Juve always thinks about the highest goals, when they start a competition they always do it to win. I'm here to give my maximum contribution, match by match, and at the end of the season we will do the maths."

Juventus head coach Massimiliano Allegri, however, suggested the top three are the only contenders.

"The Scudetto? It concerns the three in front, Inter, Milan and Napoli," Allegri said to DAZN. "We must take one step at a time. We now have the goal in our sights. The Coppa Italia and a place in the Champions League: 80 points are needed."

The Bianconeri's next Serie A fixture - after their Coppa Italia quarter-final against Sassuolo on Thursday - is a crunch clash with Atalanta on February 13, who are two points behind Juventus but with a game in hand.

Dusan Vlahovic and Denis Zakaria both scored on their Juventus debuts as the Bianconeri beat Verona 2-0 on Sunday.

The former joined from Fiorentina in a big-money January deal, while the latter arrived from Borussia Monchengladbach on the cheap with six months left on his contract.

Free-scoring Vlahovic was the first to get on the scoresheet, lobbing into the far corner in the first half, before Zakaria sealed the victory with a low effort

The victory lifts Juventus ahead of Atalanta and into fourth in Serie A, although the latter have a game in hand.

Vlahovic opened his Juventus account – and the scoring – with a delightful chip over Lorenzo Montipo after racing onto a Paulo Dybala throughball in the 13th minute.

The new arrival was a constant menace, taking three shots in the first half – more than any other player – but was unable to add to his tally of 18 Serie A goals before the break.

Zakaria joined the Serbian in netting on his first Bianconeri appearance, getting onto Alvaro Morata's pass in behind and rifling a low shot into the bottom-left corner.

The Bianconeri enjoyed less of the ball than their opponents despite being at home, but Verona rarely threatened the Juventus goal and never looked like mounting a comeback.

What does it mean? Bianconeri unbeaten in 10 league games

Juventus extended their Serie A unbeaten run to 10 games, winning seven and drawing three of those.

The Bianconeri endured a poor start to the season, but have since put together a strong run of form and are now fourth, although Atalanta have a game in hand and are just two points behind.

Vlahovic can't stop scoring

Vlahovic has now scored 18 league goals this term, only fewer than Robert Lewandowski (24) in Europe's top five leagues in 2021-22.

Double delight for debutants

Vlahovic and Zakaria are the second pair of players to have both scored a goal in their debut match for Juventus in Serie A in the three points for a win era (since 1994-95), after Arturo Vidal and Stephan Lichtsteiner against Parma in September 2011.

What's next?

Juventus host Sassuolo on Thursday in the Coppa Italia quarter-final, while Verona face Udinese at home next Sunday in Serie A.

Dusan Vlahovic got his move to Juventus because he and his "dishonest" agents wanted to "ruin" Fiorentina, according to the club's president Rocco Commisso. 

Serie A champions Juve shelled out an initial €70million to sign Vlahovic from Fiorentina last Thursday, beating off competition from Premier League sides Arsenal, Manchester City and Newcastle United. 

The Serbia international only had 18 months left on his contract with the Viola, who were keen to avoid losing their talisman for nothing at the end of next season. 

Commisso believed Vlahovic had long had an agreement in place and was ready to run down his contract if a move to Juve could not be agreed. 

“In November I came back to try to finalise the contract, but his agents were dishonest and liars," Commisso told the club's official website. 

"We had a good meeting, I expected a positive response for the morning after to sign the contract. Instead of what he had decided, he asked for double. His agents then asked for more. They also wanted a 10 per cent cut of the transfer fee and exclusive rights to negotiate his next move. 

"It was clear to everyone he already had a deal with someone. He said no to every offer. We went to England to deal with Premier League teams and returned with various proposals, but he and his agents always said no. 

"In my opinion, the goal was to run his contract down and ruin Fiorentina. The agents thought he could go for nothing and make themselves rich." 

Vlahovic has scored 17 goals in 21 Serie A outings this season, putting him level with Ciro Immobile at the top of the scoring charts. 

Dusan Vlahovic is "emotional and proud" to have signed for Juventus, declaring the move an "easy" decision despite rival interest and backlash from Fiorentina fans.

Vlahovic moved from Fiorentina to Juve for €75million in the biggest deal of the January transfer window.

The 17-goal striker – tied with Ciro Immobile at the top of Serie A's scoring charts – was said to have turned down approaches from Arsenal and Newcastle United before heading for Turin.

That was a call that frustrated Fiorentina supporters, who have grown used to seeing their top players poached by rivals Juve.

The Curva Fiesole group described Vlahovic as "another small man without b****, without honour and without respect" and "a coward" for joining the Bianconeri.

Presented as a Juve player on Tuesday, however, Vlahovic was delighted with his choice.

"I am emotional and proud to have signed for Juventus," he said. "I am ready to give my all for this glorious club to reach its objectives.

 

"The choice was easy. The Juventus DNA: the desire to fight, to never give up, to aim to be the best – all these elements are also part of my character. I fit in here.

"I want to the thank the president and everyone else who made this move possible."

Still, Vlahovic had a word for Fiorentina, adding: "I want to thank everyone at Fiorentina who helped me mature and make me the player I am today."

The 22-year-old was the most sought-after forward last month, but fellow superstars Kylian Mbappe and Erling Haaland are expected to be on the move later in the year.

As Vlahovic seemingly emerges as a challenger to those two as his generation's top talent, he said: "I am following my own path. How far I'll reach, I don't know, but I'll give my all to achieve as much as possible."

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