TURIN: Juventus’ head coach Massimiliano Allegri reacts during the Italian Serie A football match between Juventus and AC Milan at the Juventus stadium in Turin, on Sunday. – AFP

MILAN: Massimiliano Allegri said yesterday that Juventus’ visit to Spezia was a relegation battle as his team head into their fifth league match of the season without a win and in the Serie A drop zone. Juve’s 1-1 home draw with AC Milan on Sunday night left them 18th with just two points, some 10 away from league leaders Napoli, and a livid Allegri was filmed storming down the Allianz Stadium tunnel shouting “and they want to play for Juventus” about his players.

They travel to Spezia today two points behind their hosts and looking to get their season going before the visit of European champions Chelsea next week. “Looking at the table right now Spezia v Juventus is a relegation six-pointer… we need to be realistic, we can’t talk about our goals as it stands,” Allegri told reporters. The 54-year-old described his post-match outburst as “normal” after another disappointing display from Juve who fell back after taking an early lead against Milan and could have even lost the match, repeating a pattern of second-half collapses.

“After the break against Milan the same thing happened, we made mistakes when there was no pressure,” said Allegri, back at Juve this season after winning five straight league titles there between 2015 and 2019. “There’s no point talking about the past, this is a different Juventus team.” Allegri added that Italy forward Federico Chiesa would make his second league start of the season, while Matthijs de Ligt would definitely start in defense after revealing Giorgio Chiellini has a fever.

Perfect start
Napoli moved top of Serie A on Monday thanks to a 4-0 stroll at Udinese which made sure they maintained their 100 percent start to the season. Goals from Victor Osimhen, Amir Rrahmani, Kalidou Koulibaly and Hirving Lozano earned Luciano Spalletti’s side an impressive win at the Dacia Arena which gives them a perfect 12 points from four games, two points ahead of Inter Milan and AC Milan, who sit second and third respectively.

Roma are a further point back alongside Fiorentina as Napoli remain the only team to win all of their matches so far this term in Italy’s top flight. Udinese lost for the first time this season sit seventh, level on seven points with Lazio, Atalanta and Bologna as Napoli gave off early signs of being title contenders. “It doesn’t mean anything. We know we played very well at a difficult ground. We’ve got to keep our feet on the ground and keep working. It’s not easy coming all the way to Udine and winning 4-0,” said Insigne to DAZN. “If we look at the numbers now we’ll get slack and we won’t continue the way we’re going.”

Osimhen followed up on his dramatic brace in Thursday’s 2-2 Europa League draw at Leicester City by opening the scoring in the 24th minute with his first Serie A goal of the campaign, poking home from near the goalline after Lorenzo Insigne had deftly lobbed Udinese goalkeeper Marco Silvestri. Fabian Ruiz then struck the post six minutes later and was key to the goal which put Napoli two ahead. Receiving the ball from Insigne at a free-kick, Ruiz floated a delicate pass over the top of the Udinese defense for Koulibaly, who pushed the ball across goal for Rrahmani to nod home.

Koulibaly scored the late winner against Juventus last time out and put Napoli three up six minutes after the break with a missile of a shot from the excellent Ruiz’s lay-off. From then on it was all Napoli and Lozano put the cherry on the cake in the 84th minute with a lovely finish following an exchange of passes with Mario Rui. Napoli are back in action on Thursday at Sampdoria as a midweek round of fixtures rolls around. – AFP