Defensive woes and injury blows overshadow Juventus recovery


FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Serie A - Juventus v AC Milan - Allianz Stadium, Turin, Italy - September 19, 2021 Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri reacts REUTERS/Massimo Pinca/File photo

ROME (Reuters) - Massimiliano Allegri was happy to earn Juventus' second victory in a row against Sampdoria on Sunday, but a porous defence and injuries to key players have put a dampener on his side's mini recovery.

The Turin club began the new league campaign poorly, failing to win any of their opening four games for the first time in 60 years.

They got back on track with 3-2 wins over Spezia and Samp to climb into the top half of the table, but the performances did little to silence doubts about the defence.

Juve have failed to keep a clean sheet in 20 consecutive Serie A matches, one game shy of their worst-ever streak in 1955.

"These goals conceded (against Sampdoria) did not cost Allegri points, but they did cost him pride because the total conceded rose to 10, an inconceivable figure for him," said Sky Italia pundit Paolo Condo.

"Considering that Allegri has regularly won his league titles by having the best defence, the real problem to resolve is evident."

The 10 goals Juventus have shipped after six games is their worst record in Serie A since 1988-89, when they let in 11, and to make matters worse, they have regularly surrendered the lead this season.

Juventus were in front against Udinese, Napoli and Milan but picked up two points from those games, while Spezia fought back from a goal down to take the lead last week before Allegri’s side launched a comeback to win 3-2.

Against Sampdoria, Juve led from the 10th minute, and Allegri did not appear overly concerned.

"Today we did well in the defensive phase, but we made a mistake for the corner on their first goal and for their second, we lost the ball while playing out and got caught out. It can happen," he said.

Juve’s back-to-back wins came at a good time, as Allegri’s side face European champions Chelsea and local rivals Torino in the next week.

The coach has major selection problems to consider at both ends of the park, as first-choice strikers Paulo Dybala and Alvaro Morata picked up injuries against Samp.

Moise Kean is the only recognised striker available to Allegri ahead of the key double-header, and losing both his joint-top scorers in one afternoon was a major blow.

Dybala and Morata are the only Juve players to score more than one goal this season, with three apiece.

Their absence leaves Allegri with yet another conundrum as he looks to continue his side’s recovery from a sluggish start.

(Reporting by Alasdair Mackenzie, editing by Ed Osmond)

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