MILAN (AP) — Juventus is back. Maybe.
After a run of five matches without a win — including a humiliating loss to Monza in what was the first Serie A victory for the team owned by Silvio Berlusconi — Juventus has won two straight and finally got its Champions League campaign going with a 3-1 victory over Maccabi Haifa on Wednesday.
The Bianconeri will head to the San Siro on Saturday for a match against defending champion AC Milan in a much better mood than before the international break, but coach Massimiliano Allegri is cautious.
“The fact that we’ve won two in a row doesn’t mean anything,” Allegri said. “We have to stay silent, get our heads down and work hard because we are behind in both Serie A and the Champions League.”
Allegri is well aware that there are still problems to work on. Juventus wasted a number of chances against Maccabi and conceded a goal with 15 minutes remaining to endure a tense finale, before Adrien Rabiot scored his second of the match.
“We stopped playing with a quarter of an hour left and when we conceded we got scared and playing with fear is very dangerous,” Allegri said. “We could have scored three, four, five, six goals but that’s not the problem, the problem comes if you continue to ham it up and try to be too pretty.
“We were lucky. At the end of the match there was silence in the dressing room, which said a lot about that.”
Juventus certainly could have scored more and nearly all those chances came from quality passes from Ángel Di María, who would have had more than the hat trick of assists he did record if his teammates had been more clinical.
Di María’s inspired performance was somewhat bittersweet as it was a reminder of what Juventus had been missing, with the Argentina midfielder only recently returning from injury, and what it will again be without this weekend because he is suspended after being sent off in the loss to Monza.
“I’m very disappointed not to be able to play against Milan,” Di María said. “But I deserved it for the mistake I made.
“I really regret that mistake. It was a lack of respect for my teammates, for the club and for myself. I’m human, however, and I will try not to make the same mistake again.”
Juventus will be expecting a sterner test this weekend at Milan, Allegri’s former team. But Milan is struggling with a number of injuries and reeling from a 3-0 loss at Chelsea in the Champions League.
“It really hurts. It really hurts us as a team,” Milan stand-in captain Ismaël Bennacer said in London. “Now we need to lift our heads back up, analyze what we did wrong and get ourselves together … with renewed spirit and hunger.”
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