🇮🇹 Serie A spotlight - Time to worry for Juventus already?

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Padraig Whelan

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We are now three games into Massimiliano Allegri’s return as Juventus boss.

And he is still waiting for his first win after losing a second game on the spin at the weekend, this time away to Napoli.

That followed letting a 2-0 half-time lead slip to draw at Udinese on the opening day before being beaten at home to new boys Empoli as fans returned to the stadium in numbers for the first time.

Kalidou Koulibaly’s late winner meant that Juve have now failed to win any of their first three games for just the second time in the last 52 years.

On the only other occasion that happened, they roared back from what seemed like an impossible position in October to reel off 15 consecutive wins and retain their title.

Fans familiar with that team, also coached by Allegri, will be aware that it had much more quality and a grizzled mentality that even when plundering the depths, everyone in Italy was uncomfortable about writing them off.

There isn’t that same sense of inevitability about a revival this time, although it does seem likely.

It would be obvious to look at the shock sale of Cristiano Ronaldo as being the catalyst for their loss of form.

After all, he looked to have scored a last gasp winner in Udine only for VAR to deny him but for Ronaldo to shine, the team must create for him, or any striker, and that isn’t happening.

Although goalkeeper Guglielmo Vicario had a good game for Empoli, Juventus struggled to put him under sustained pressure and the game simply drifted away from them.

In Naples, Álvaro Morata’s early opener only came about following an awful error from Kostas Manolas, whose focus deserted him in possession and after that, Davide Ospina wasn’t really tested aside from a swift block to keep out Dejan Kulusevski.

However, in a game in which they were missing two crucial attackers in Federico Chiesa and Paulo Dybala, that is an important factor which also must be considered.

But it isn’t only in the final third where there are worries.

Not for the first time in 2020, questions are being asked about goalkeeper Wojciech Szczęsny’s part in a disappointing day at the office, as was the case on week one and late last season too.

This time, he really should have done better to keep Lorenzo Insigne’s curler away from Matteo Politano and the winner also saw him come under pressure from some quarters, although that one seems harsh on the Pole.

With issues at both ends of the field, Allegri has been left looking for quick answers but to his credit, isn’t showing any anxiety – and rightly so.

“Mistakes are costing us at the moment, we’re losing too many balls and these games are tests of our character,” the coach told DAZN.

“Things will get better. The ball will soon go in and we must cut out the mistakes because we are hurting ourselves dearly more than anything else at the moment.

“We only had two defenders on the bench and three young boys along with Moise Kean and Aaron Ramsey so we know it is still a very long season.”

The biggest test of their character may be coming next weekend. Allegri’s former club Milan await …

And elsewhere …

  • In his 1,000th game in the dugout, José Mourinho enjoyed a memorable win over Sassuolo thanks to Stephan El Shaarawy’s sublime injury-time winner
  • Zlatan Ibrahimović made a scoring, and winning, return for Milan as Ante Rebić inspired them to a 2-0 win over Lazio
  • Champions Inter slipped up for the first time, drawing 2-2 at Sampdoria in a game filled with some terrific volleys

😱 Goal of the Weekend

Sampdoria-Inter had plenty but Federico Dimarco’s blistering free-kick was the pick of the bunch.

🥇 Player of the Weekend

Mohamed Fares scored two second half headers in Sardinia as Genoa stunned Cagliari to come from 2-0 down in the second half to clock up a big win on the road.