Moise Kean came off the bench to score a late winner as Juventus took a big stride towards securing a Champions League place with a 2-1 victory at Sassuolo.

Sassuolo were much the better side in the first half of the Serie A clash at MAPEI Stadium – Citta del Tricolore on Monday and they were rewarded when Giacomo Raspadori put them in front.

Paulo Dybala equalised on the stroke of half-time, though, and substitute Kean's first goal for two months in the 88th minute snatched a huge win for the Bianconeri.

Juve remain in fourth place with four games to play, eight points better off than Roma in fifth spot and just one behind Napoli.

 

Juventus legend Gianluigi Buffon was surprised by the club's decision not to renew the contract of attacker Paulo Dybala.

However, the 44-year-old, now at Serie B side Parma, does not believe the Bianconeri have made a mistake in letting Dybala leave, noting the improvement Juventus have made under Massimiliano Allegri.

The club confirmed last month Dybala would be allowed to leave at the end of his contract in June, despite the Argentina international recording 13 goal involvements (eight goals, five assists) in 23 Serie A appearances this season.

Among Juve players, only Alvaro Morata (also eight goals and five assists), can match the 28-year-old's output this term.

"I didn't expect it," Buffon told La Stampa of Dybala's departure. "But the club was direct and honest. 

"They didn't renew his contract because they consider him not functional to the project, not because he is poor. 

"He will do great things, but it does not mean that Juve made a mistake. The camp says the group is improving."

Juventus have played their way into title contention after picking up more points in the second half of the Serie A season than any other side (28), while their six-point gap to leaders Milan is the closest the Old Lady have been to the summit since August.

Their quest for a 10th title in 11 years sees them face Bologna on Saturday, against whom Dybala, who is being strongly linked with rivals Inter, has seven goals and one assist in 11 Serie A matches.

 

Buffon was also asked about the fortunes of the Italy national team after Roberto Mancini's European champions failed to qualify for a second consecutive World Cup, falling to a humiliating play-off loss to North Macedonia in qualifying last month.

Buffon, who won 176 caps for the Azzurri and starred as they won the 2006 World Cup, said Mancini must carry responsibility for their struggles despite leading Italy to Euro 2020 glory.

"He was the architect of the Azzurri renaissance, but he has some responsibility," Buffon said of Mancini. 

"There is a way and a way... if you lose on penalties to Portugal, it is one thing, North Macedonia is tougher [to justify]. 

"Already in 2010 I realised that things were changing, that we should have celebrated the qualifications. We lack quality and nastiness. If motivated, we give our best; otherwise, we can lose to anyone."

Inter are firming as a likely destination for Paulo Dybala, as the end to his time at Juventus draws near.

The Argentina international has provided 96 goals and 51 assists in 265 league appearances for Juventus, but will not stay in an evident rebuild under Max Allegri.

While Dybala is set to leave after seven seasons in Turin, and after a near-move to Tottenham, it appears he might stay in Italy's Serie A after all.

 

TOP STORY – INTER CLOSE IN ON DYBALA

Inter are closing in on Paulo Dybala, whose contract at Juventus will expire at the end of the season, according to reports from La Gazzetta dello Sport.

The 28-year-old attacker has drifted out to the periphery for the Turin giants, ever since Cristiano Ronaldo's transfer, to the point where they are not willing to renew his contract.

Per the report however, Inter face potential stumbling blocks in fitting Dybala within their wage structure, with talks between the club and his representatives focused on bridging any gaps in expectations.

While Inter would seek to bring Dybala in next season, they are not in a capacity to offer a €6milliion salary, currently earned by Lautaro Martinez and Marcelo Brozovic.

Though Inter are unsure of Martinez's future at the San Siro, Alexis Sanchez falling out of favour under Simone Inzaghi could facilitate Dybala's addition.

 

ROUND-UP

– Juventus are keen to sign Roma's Nicolo Zaniolo, and are prepared to add Moise Kean as part of a package deal, according to Nicolo Schira.

Manchester United have reached a verbal agreement in principle for Erik ten Hag to leave Ajax and become their next manager, The Athletic is reporting.

Liverpool are prepared to make a £25million (€30m) offer for Torino's Gleison Bremer, per Tuttomercato.

Barcelona must be prepared to pay Juventus €100m in order to sign 22-year-old centre-back Matthijs de Ligt, Fichajes is reporting.

– Atletico Madrid are interested in signing Lautaro Martinez, with Inter setting a transfer price range of €70-80m, per Nicolo Schira.

Massimiliano Allegri called on Juventus to improve their calmness and clinical finishing as he conceded his team cannot compete with Serie A title contenders Milan, Inter and Napoli.

Juve dominated for large periods against Inter in the Derby d'Italia, but Hakan Calhanoglu's penalty practically ended the Bianconeri's hopes for a late Scudetto surge following a remarkable unbeaten streak.

With Allegri's side also crashing out at the Champions League last-16 stage to Villarreal, their hopes of silverware hang on their Coppa Italia run, where they hold a 1-0 first-leg semi-final advantage over Fiorentina.

Allegri urged his team to improve on Saturday when they visit Cagliari, who have lost 10 of their last 11 league meetings with Juve – failing to score in eight of those games.

"There is just one possible reaction. Play good games. Tomorrow's match will be very different from the one against Inter," Allegri told reporters at Friday's pre-match news conference. 

"It's never easy to win in Cagliari and we must be prepared, knowing the opponents, and their moment. We must win games, that's the only thing we must think about.

"Our target is to finish in the top four. For now, we are there, but Roma are close [five points behind]. That's why we need a great performance tomorrow. We can take no risks, we need to adapt to the game.

"We played the best games against Atalanta, Villarreal and Inter at home, but we were not clinical enough. We need to improve and be more calm in those situations.

"I can understand errors in one or two games, but three is an important number and that's why we need to improve.

 

"I've analysed what I saw against Inter. I always think about what the team is doing. We deserve to be fourth. We need to work to improve and we can improve before the end of the season.

"We can work on the development of individual footballers and we have more time because we'll play one game per week, except the Coppa Italia semi-final with Fiorentina.

"I don't like compliments, otherwise, we become a team that is satisfied with compliments and finds excuses. I don't want excuses or compliments, I want victories."

Paulo Dybala will leave Turin when his contract expires at the end of the season but the Argentina international has continued to feature despite a breakdown in talks.

Allegri will hope his striker can deliver and remain committed to the cause against Cagliari, given Dybala has scored six of his eight goals in the league this season against teams in the lower half of the table.

"We have time to work during the week but at the same time, we have targets," he continued. 

"Every player in the team must give his contribution and help us reach a top-four finish, regardless of their future. We have five or six players with a contract expiring. Right now, we must focus on the pitch and on getting results.

"I think Juventus have created a lot in the last three or four months. We haven't scored much and we must be more efficient up front.

"Had we won against Inter, we would have had a small chance [to win the title], but now we need to focus on our target. We are fourth and we deserved so, when we were 10th, we deserve to be 10th. The rest doesn't count."

Paulo Dybala should have demanded a one-year contract to prove his worth to Juventus if he was happy in Turin, according to former Bianconeri boss Fabio Capello.

Argentina international Dybala is set to see his time at the Allianz Stadium comes to its conclusion when his contract expires at the end of the season.

The forward has 113 goals across all competitions for Juve, ranking him third all-time among the club’s non-Italian scorers, behind only David Trezeguet (171) and John Hansen (124).

Fellow Serie A competitors Inter and Premier League side Tottenham, managed by former Nerazzurri coach Antonio Conte, are reportedly among the favourites to secure Dybala's signature for the next campaign.

But Capello believes if the 28-year-old was settled at Juve then he should have pleaded with the club for another chance, while he heaped praise on Massimiliano Allegri's new star striker Dusan Vlahovic.

"I like Vlahovic, he has pace, physical strength and desire to improve," he told Italian outlet Corriere dello Sport. "He knows how to work for the team and stay inside the box.

"But Max [Allegri] is right when he says that he must learn how to play in a top club, managing the pressure and the different phases in a game.

"You can't question Dybala technically, but he has had some fitness issues. If he was happy in Turin, he should have challenged Juventus. Ask them for a one-year contract and show how much he's worth.

"The same goes for [Roma forward Nicolo] Zaniolo. He suffered two serious injuries and remained out for 18 months. He must rediscover self-confidence because he has the technical skills."

 

Capello also expressed his concern for the state of Italian football, with the Azzurri missing out on two straight World Cups and no Serie A side in the Champions League quarter-finals.

Roma and Atalanta are the only two Italian sides left in the Europa League, and former England manager Capello believes Italy are way behind their international competitors.

"Italian football is far behind the others. The ball doesn't move quickly, referees blow the whistle too often," he added. "They stop the play too frequently. Every challenge is a foul, so there is never intensity, our teams do not learn to keep up the pace.

"We have fallen behind, in every sense, but the main problem is that the best players no longer come to Italy, so there is no comparison with the best. 

"I don't learn anything if what should help me grow is of the same level as me, has my same knowledge, identical experiences"

Allegri acknowledged his reluctance to use young players in an interview on Friday, and the preference to utilise more experienced players is a problem thought to spread across the whole of the Italian game.

Capello expects no quick fixes as he cited the progression of other countries to learn from.

"Even eight. In Italy, everyone intervenes," he responded when asked if it would take five or six years to return Italy to the top of the footballing pyramid.

"As for youth sectors, those in charge should have a trip to Spain where they work on the technique, not on tactics."

Paulo Dybala is coming to the end of his Juventus career, but Massimiliano Allegri will throw the Argentina forward into Sunday's Derby d'Italia regardless.

It could be Inter that Dybala plays for next season, as they reportedly court the 28-year-old who is entering the final months of his Juventus contract.

But this weekend the Nerazzurri will be the opposition as Dybala looks to help Juventus continue their surge up the table.

Victory at the Allianz Stadium would lift Juventus above faltering Inter and into third place, with the Scudetto perhaps not entirely off the table, despite Allegri's protestations they are not part of the title battle.

Amid intrigue over whether Dybala could miss out, Allegri backed him to make an impact in the biggest match of the weekend's Serie A schedule.

"Dybala will start the game," Allegri told a news conference on Saturday.

Talks over a new contract for Dybala broke down in March, meaning he can leave on a free transfer, and Allegri said Juventus agreed that outcome would be for the best.

"We are in agreement with the club on everything," Allegri said. "There is always a unity of purpose to move forward. The choices are made together.

"When we talk, I present my ideas and the company its own, and then in the end we always find unity of purpose to plan. We plan everything together.

"I don't think it's the first case of a player changing clubs. Right now, we need to be focused for the season finale."

Dybala has scored a modest three goals in his 10 previous Serie A games against Inter.

Allegri smarted at the mention of speculation over a possible move for Dybala to Inter, and for Paul Pogba to Juventus. Like Dybala, Manchester United's Pogba, a former Juve star, will be a free agent come the end of June.

"Dybala at Inter and Pogba at Juve? I don't do my own transfer market, let alone those of others," Allegri said, quoted by Gazzetta Dello Sport.

Inter looked strong favourites for the Serie A title earlier in the year but have taken only 11 points from their last nine Serie A games (W2 D5 L2), while Juventus have taken 21 points in the same stretch to hurtle into a strong fourth spot, closing in on the top three.

A 1-1 draw at San Siro when these teams met in the league in October was followed in January by Inter edging Juve 2-1 in the Supercoppa Italiana.

"It's not easy to say who is favourite in the Derby d'Italia," Allegri said. "We have been following our path steadily, and we are ready to face Inter... maybe it's our turn to win this fixture.

"Inter, together with Milan and Napoli, are one of three candidates for the Scudetto. As for Juventus, we need to keep our focus on fourth place. That's the position we are in right now but Atalanta are breathing down our necks. Our aim is to qualify for the Champions League next season."

Allegri's Juventus have recently pulled clear of Atalanta, who headed into the weekend nine points adrift of the Turin giants, albeit with one game in hand. This has come about due to Juventus having the longest current unbeaten run in Serie A – a stretch of 16 games (W11 D5).

Barcelona are reportedly too restricted by LaLiga financial rules to enter the race for the world's best players, even after inking a deal with Spotify worth up to $235million.

Xavi's side have gone from strength to strength recently, finding form and re-establishing Barcelona as a prime destination, with a number of strong signings rumoured to be heading to Camp Nou in the next transfer window.

While there may be interest in bringing in the biggest names in the world, Barcelona supporters will likely need to lower their expectations.

TOP STORY – BARCELONA OUT OF SALAH RACE

It was reported that Barcelona have interest in signing Liverpool's Mohamed Salah, but The Daily Mirror claims that it will not be possible due to LaLiga's financial rules.

Salah – who boasts 28 goals and 10 assists in 36 matches for Liverpool this season – is likely to fetch a price similar to Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland, who Barcelona president Joan Laporta ruled out when talking with RAC 1, as well as Paris Saint-Germain's Kylian Mbappe, due to the lofty figures.

While Barca may not be willing to fork out €100m for a single signing, they are rumoured to have agreed to terms with Robert Lewandowski, who could fetch up to €60m at 33 years old, as well as Franck Kessie and Cesar Azpilicueta, with further interest in Ajax's Antony and Manchester United's Paul Pogba.

ROUND-UP

– Borussia Dortmund are interested in signing Premier League strikers Timo Werner and Anthony Martial from Chelsea and Manchester United, according to 90Min.

– According to The Sun, Newcastle United are keen on signing Watford's Ismaila Sarr in the upcoming transfer window in a deal believed to be worth around £35m.

– Leeds United have placed an asking price of £67m on Brazilian winger Raphinha, per The Daily Mirror, with The Athletic also reporting that the club insists his only release clause is triggered if the Whites are relegated from the Premier League.

– Calciomercato is reporting that Arsenal and Atletico Madrid will be competing for the signature of Inter Milan striker Lautaro Martinez, with the Italian club said to be interested if the fee hits £58m.

– According to Mundo Deportivo, Paulo Dybala is interested in joining Atletico Madrid when his contract expires after this season, and while Inter also have interest, they would need to sell Martinez to do so.

Arsenal continue their rejuvenation under Mikel Arteta, but a striker is becoming a positional need.

After his relationship with Arteta soured, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang left for Barcelona during the January transfer window and has found verve under Xavi.

Although Alexandre Lacazette has been a compatible fit for Arsenal, he and Eddie Nketiah are out of contract at the end of the season, and the Gunners may look to Old Trafford. 

 

TOP STORY – ARSENAL TO MOVE FOR RASHFORD

Arsenal are preparing an approach for Manchester United star Marcus Rashford in an attempt to bolster their stocks up front, according to The Mirror.

The Gunners were linked with a number of forwards during January, including Everton's Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Real Sociedad's Alexander Isak, but it appears Rashford's status at Old Trafford has shifted following United's Champions League exit.

The 24-year-old has one year plus an option for a further season on his current deal, but appears to be a peripheral figure under interim boss Ralf Rangnick.

Rashford has made just 10 starts in the Premier League this season and scored only five goals across all competitions. 

ROUND-UP

- Manchester City and Real Madrid are in best position to sign Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland, but the 21-year-old has rejected City's first offer, AS reports.

- Barcelona could offer versatile defender Oscar Mingueza as part of a package to land Leeds United winger Raphinha, Sport has reported.

- Juventus have shown their interest in Chelsea's Antonio Rudiger as they aim to replace Giorgio Chiellini, according to The Sun.

- The Daily Mail are reporting that Inter are keen to sign Juve's Paulo Dybala, who will be out of contract at the end of the season and is not having his deal renewed.

Blaise Matuidi believes Juventus will struggle to replace Paulo Dybala when he departs at the end of the season.

Juve chief executive Maurizio Arrivabene confirmed on Monday that Dybala's contract will not be renewed.

The Argentina forward's deal expires at the end of June and the Bianconeri have opted against offering him an extension.

Dybala has scored 113 goals for the Serie A giants, ranking him third all-time among the club's non-Italian scorers, behind only David Trezeguet (171) and John Hansen (124).

He joined Juve from Palermo in a deal worth up to €40million in June 2015 and has proved to be a shrewd acquisition, finding the back of the net 80 times in 202 Serie A appearances.

 

Matuidi is surprised the Turin giants have allowed his former team-mate to move on and says he will leave a big void.

The ex-France international told La Gazzetta dello Sport: "I have an excellent relationship with him, I heard the news, but I have not yet had the opportunity to speak to him.

"He is a great man, as well as a great player. I am very surprised because I think that it will not be easy for Juventus to replace him and find a new player at his level.

"He has done fantastic things in recent years, the fans love him and they will never forget him. I am sure he will find a club that will allow him to continue to grow and do well.

"The only explanation is that Juventus have decided to renew the team. I know it's difficult to accept, but in these situations you have to know how to turn the page."

Juve have been linked with Roma's Nicolo Zaniolo as they prepare for life without Dybala.

Arrivabene explained the reasoning behind Dybala's impending departure, telling Tuttomercatoweb.com: "The most important change is that Juventus has not renewed Paulo Dybala's contract.

"With the transfer market, I reiterated it: the approach was sincere. With the signings made in January, with the arrival of [Dusan] Vlahovic, Paulo's position is not what it was anymore at the centre of the project.

"That is why we preferred to make this kind of decision."

Argentine forward Paulo Dybala is set to exit Juventus at the end of this season.

As a result, the Bianconeri are assessing their options for a replacement.

Juventus are currently fourth in Serie A after an excellent run of results which have put them into the title picture.

TOP STORY – ZANIOLO FRAMED AS DYBALA REPLACEMENT 

TuttoMercato claims Juventus have set their sights on Nicolo Zaniolo as Dybala's replacement, with the Roma attacker unlikely to renew with the Giallorossi before his contract expires in 2024.

The first domino in this instance is Dybala, whose contract expires at the end of this season. Juventus have no intention of extending according to Fabrizio Romano. Romano claims the 28-year-old will not move another club in Serie A, opening up a move to long-time suitor Tottenham.

According to TuttoMercato, Juve have chosen Zaniolo as their replacement and would be ready to make a move in the upcoming transfer window. Whether they can manoeuvre to match his current market value of €40million remains to be seen, however.

ROUND-UP

- Per Sky Sports, Manchester United have narrowed their shortlist for a permanent manager down to Ajax's Erik ten Hag, Sevilla's Julen Lopetegui, Spain boss Luis Enrique and Paris Saint-Germain's Mauricio Pochettino .

- Inter have targeted Edinson Cavani as a replacement for Alexis Sanchez, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport.

- Calciomercato reports Arsenal will make a move for Arthur in the upcoming transfer window, as contract negotiations with Juventus have broken down.

- Arsenal are also keen to tie Bukayo Saka to a long-term contract, in attempts to fend off outside interest for the 20-year-old, per The Athletic.

Juventus chief executive Maurizio Arrivabene has confirmed Paulo Dybala will leave the Bianconeri when his contract expires at the end of the season.

Dybala moved from Palermo to Juventus in June 2015 in a deal worth up to €40million and has since scored 80 goals in 202 Serie A appearances.

The forward was on target in Sunday's 2-0 win over Serie A strugglers Salernitana, with Alvaro Morata alone matching his league tally of eight for Juve so far this season.

Dybala now has 113 goals across all competitions for Juve, ranking him third all-time among the club’s non-Italian scorers, behind only David Trezeguet (171) and John Hansen (124).

However, head coach Massimiliano Allegri suggested he did not know what the future held for the Argentina international, before reports claimed he would be departing.

Arrivabene reinforced those claims on Monday, as he told Tuttomercatoweb.com: "The most important change is that Juventus has not renewed Paulo Dybala's contract.

"With the transfer market, I reiterated it: the approach was sincere. With the signings made in January, with the arrival of [Dusan] Vlahovic, Paulo's position is not what it was any more at the centre of the project.

"That is why we preferred to make this kind of decision."

Previous reports suggested Dybala had reached a verbal agreement with Juve last October before nothing came of the negotiations, and Arrivabene acknowledged the club's January business had changed their thinking.

"The parameters were different. I had already talked about it; no one has ever questioned Paulo's ability," he continued. "There were considerations to be made on appearances, contract length and financial considerations.

"We had to make our choices in January, we made them, we got here. For Juventus, it would have been easy to make a lower offer, but it would have been disrespectful towards Paulo. The decision has been made. Today's meeting was friendly, clear and respectful."

Massimiliano Allegri is unsure whether Paulo Dybala will remain at Juventus beyond the end of this season after he scored in a 2-0 win over Salernitana.

Dybala's fifth-minute strike beat Luigi Sepe at his near post to set the Bianconeri on their way to a routine win, extending their unbeaten run to 16 Serie A games and keeping them within seven points of leaders Milan.

He has now scored eight league goals for Juventus this term, more than any other player (Alvaro Morata also has eight), but the 28-year-old has recently been linked with a move away from Turin.

The Argentine's contract with Juventus is set to expire at the end of the season, and he was reported to have clashed with Allegri over the Bianconeri's training schedule earlier this week.

Speaking after Dybala starred against Serie A's bottom club, the Bianconeri boss was unsure whether he would remain at the club.

"I don't know if he will be a Juventus player or not," Allegri told DAZN. "That's why there is the club, with which I am absolutely in line. 

"It is not just Paulo who is about to expire his contract, there are also [Juan] Cuadrado, [Federico] Bernardeschi, [Mattia] De Sciglio. 

"On my part and on the part of the team, there is only the will to do well now. I give evaluations of the players, but then there are also contracts and many other things to see."

Despite being unsure as to where the forward's future lay, Allegri was adamant that the pair have maintained a positive relationship.

"The relationship with Dybala and all the other players is good," the Bianconeri coach added.

"There are disagreements, exchanges of opinions, and I am quite direct in things. The players have to perform on the pitch, and they have to know that they have my respect, regardless. 

"Paulo arrived as a child from Palermo, then he grew up and became a great player."

Dybala was joined on the scoresheet by Dusan Vlahovic after 28 minutes.

The Serbia international's 21st Serie A goal of the campaign put him level with Adem Ljajic as the second-highest goalscorer from his nation in Italian top-flight history; his tally of 48 putting him just three behind Dejan Stankovic (51).

Allegri was keen to emphasise the importance of Vlahovic at the spearhead of his attack, but said the league's leading marksman still had room to improve. 

"He played a good game," Allegri said of the 22-year-old. "He's an important point of reference, then he comes back and covers. 

"Like everyone, I talk to him often, he needs to improve a lot on the cleanliness of the game. He knows this, and we are working on it."

Juventus have taken 35 points from their last 15 league games to give themselves an outside shot of the Serie A title, having taken just 24 points from their first 15 this season.

Juventus responded to their shock Champions League defeat to Villarreal by beating Salernitana 2-0, as forwards Paulo Dybala and Dusan Vlahovic starred in Turin.

Dybala's early strike set the tone for a routine victory, and Vlahovic doubled the lead after twice being denied by visiting goalkeeper Luigi Sepe.

The home defence was untroubled during a quiet second half, with Juve's win meaning they are unbeaten in their past 33 Serie A outings against teams starting the game in the bottom three.

Massimiliano Allegri's team also extended their unbeaten league run to 16 games, remaining in the hunt for a 10th Scudetto in 11 years. 

Dybala required just five minutes to open the scoring, latching onto Vlahovic's pass in the area before rifling a left-footed shot past Sepe at his near post.

The Argentine should have doubled his tally on 13 minutes, chipping over the bar when through on goal, before Vlahovic was denied by a superb Sepe save after Dybala's unselfish cut-back.

Sepe made another excellent save just moments later, clawing Vlahovic's goal-bound flick away from the bottom-right corner, but the Serbia star did net on 28 minutes when he headed home Mattia De Sciglio's cross from inside the six-yard box.

The Bianconeri did not concede a single shot on target during a dominant first-half display and went close to a third on the hour when Sepe almost spilled Matthijs de Ligt's volley to Vlahovic.

Lively substitute Simone Verdi drew Wojciech Szczesny's first save with a long-range strike, and the Poland keeper made a superb stop from Federico Bonazzoli's volley, as the hosts continued their fine league form.

What does it mean? Bianconeri maintain excellent Serie A run

As well as providing the perfect tonic to their 3-0 Champions League last-16 second-leg defeat, Juve's win moved them back to within seven points of Serie A leaders Milan and maintained their fantastic run of league form.

The Bianconeri are one of just two teams in the big five European leagues, the other being Sevilla, to be unbeaten in league action since the start of December. Allegri's men have taken 35 points from their past 15 games, having collected just 24 from their first 15 this season.

Fast start for Dybala 

Dybala's early strike set Juventus on their way to a routine win and marked the fifth time that the 28-year-old has opened the scoring in a Serie A match this season.

He has now scored eight league goals for Juventus this term, more than any other player has managed for the Bianconeri.

Vlahovic eyeing Stankovic record after bullying promoted outfit 

Having failed to score in his first 12 Serie A games against promoted sides, Vlahovic's first-half header was his 11th goal in his past nine such contests.

With his 48th strike in the competition, Vlahovic has equalled Adem Ljajic as the second-highest scoring Serbian in Serie A history, with only Dejan Stankovic (51 goals) ahead of him on that list.

What's next?

Title-chasing Juve are back in Serie A action after the international break, hosting Inter in a crucial Derby d'Italia clash over the first weekend of April, when Salernitana host Torino.

Massimiliano Allegri confirmed Juventus stars Giorgio Chiellini and Paulo Dybala will return against Villarreal in the Champions League, while he hailed the partnership between Dusan Vlahovic and Alvaro Morata.

The Bianconeri were held to a 1-1 draw in the first leg of the last-16 clash between the pair on February 22, leaving it all to play for in the return meeting on Wednesday in Turin.

History favours the Italian hosts at the Allianz Stadium, given Juve have won each of their last six Champions League home games - only managing more consecutive such victories once in the competition (10 games between 1996 and 1997).

Allegri's side will also be boosted by the return of Dybala and Chiellini, who have not featured in over a month due to muscle injuries, but they will be without Leonardo Bonucci and Alex Sandro.

"Chiellini, Dybala and [Federico] Bernardeschi are back," Allegri told reporters at Tuesday's pre-match news conference.

"They are three important returns, we hope to win the game in normal time otherwise we will have to do it in extra time.

"Tomorrow the substitutions will be important. Chiellini, Dybala and Bernardeschi are not ready to play 90 minutes, but they can be important changes.

"Bonucci is out: at Empoli and with Villarreal in the first leg, he was struggling with injury and made himself available to the team. He has a calf problem that will keep him out.

"Alex [Sandro] felt something in his calf and I do not want to risk it, since it is not the last game of the season. [Denis] Zakaria will maybe come back on Thursday, otherwise after the international break."

 

Vlahovic became just the third player in Champions League history to score inside the first minute on their debut in the competition, after Andreas Moller (for Borussia Dortmund v Juventus) and Ishak Belfodil (for Hoffenheim v Manchester City).

Allegri revealed that the former Fiorentina striker will start against Unai Emery's side, while he praised the recent form of the Serbian forward and partner Morata.

"Vlahovic will play, Morata is in good form and he's always had quality. He was always criticised despite playing in a position that was not his natural one.

"I am happy with him, he is playing well with Vlahovic, he has more freedom on the pitch. We all feel well, we'll also need a bit of luck to qualify.”

As for Juve's chances of winning the competition, Allegri - who has twice guided the Bianconeri to the Champions League final - insisted that his side must leave everything on the pitch and not have any regrets.

"I have clear ideas, hopefully, I’ll get it right. The team is feeling well. It’s the decisive moment of the season," he continued.

"We must have the ambition to reach the final, it's a target we have so we must try. If we are good and lucky, we'll make it, if the others are better than us, we won't make it.

"We can't have regrets, tomorrow is like a final that we play at home. 

"However, we've done nothing so far. We can't lose balance, we must keep our feet on the ground and take a step at a time. The target was to get to March and play for our targets. We are here, there's adrenaline, the fans will have to help us.

"Villarreal are an experienced team, with a very good coach. They concede almost nothing, we must make as few mistakes as possible and prepare the game well. We took some risks in Spain, but we also had a few chances to double the lead."

Juventus head coach Massimiliano Allegri warned that "a moment can change everything" heading into a decisive stage of the season.

Allegri's side started the season in mixed fashion, but a 14-game unbeaten streak in Serie A has them back on track and they are one of only five teams still unbeaten in Europe's top-five leagues in 2022.

Juve sit fourth in the league, six points clear of fifth-placed Atalanta and just seven adrift of leaders Milan, and are still in the Champions League with the return leg of their last-16 clash against Villarreal to come on Wednesday.

The Bianconeri next head to Sampdoria, who Juve have won their last six against in all competitions and scored at least two goals in each of those games, but Allegri is expecting a tough test on Saturday.

Juve boss Allegri also referenced a frantic Champions League clash between Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid as a warning sign for how quickly things can change in football.

"We've reached the decisive moment of the season," he told reporters at Friday's pre-match news conference. 

"With two months to play, this is the run-in. There's the international break in a week, but in the meantime, we have an intense week ahead of us. 

"Our first objective is to defeat Sampdoria, then the second is to qualify to the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

"Our objective is to finish in the top four. Whether fourth, third or second, it's not important. What is important is that we continue our positive run and hold down fourth place.

"Football is played on a knife's edge - as was demonstrated during the week between Real Madrid and PSG.

"When the situation appears to be going well, a moment can change everything. So, concentration needs to be kept to a maximum."

 

Sampdoria are eyeing three straight home league wins for the first time since a run between December 2018 and January 2019, and Allegri reiterated the challenge that a new-look side under Marco Giampaolo pose.

Allegri added: "In their two matches at home with Marco Giampaolo as coach, Sampdoria have scored six goals and conceded none, while 25 per cent of their goals were scored in the opening 15 minutes, so our approach needs to be right. 

"Winning in Genoa is always difficult, either against Genoa or Sampdoria. They are transformed when they play at home. We need to have the character to obtain the result we’re looking for."

Juve will be hoping that new signing Dusan Vlahovic can continue his fine scoring run against Sampdoria, who are his favourite opponent in Serie A having scored five goals in five games against them.

Allegri still wants to see more from the former Fiorentina striker Vlahovic, despite the forward topping Juve's scoring charts with three goals in five league games since his arrival, averaging a goal every 143 minutes in Serie A.

"I am happy with how Dusan Vlahovic is coping with the mental stress of playing every three days," he continued. 

"Every ball is decisive. I told him yesterday that he needs to be more precise in each action he’s involved in, to spare some energy and increase his skill."

While Vlahovic has impressed in recent weeks, Juve have been without talisman Paulo Dybala but Allegri hinted at a return for the Argentina international against Villarreal.

"I still need to decide who will play because I'm aware that some players need a rest," Allegri said of his team for the Sampdoria clash. 

"The good news is that Mattia De Sciglio and Alex Sandro are back with the team, and Juan Cuadrado feels fine. Federico Bernadeschi is suspended, but Danilo will definitely play. It will be his 100th game for Juventus, so how can he not play?

"Paulo Dybala is improving. He could be available for the Champions League, so could Leonardo Bonucci.

"On Sunday, Giorgio Chiellini should be back with the team. When the Champions League arrives, it's like honey, it attracts everyone."

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