KAMPALA: Massimiliano Allegri’s moment of truth is not far off. In an ideal football world, the Juventus manager should be insulated from criticism given the exalted history of winning six consecutive Serie A titles in his first spell with the club. But with the record Scudetto winners a distant eighth, ten points off the summit and the Turin giants in danger of Champions League elimination following a 0-2 reverse at rank outsiders Maccabi Haifa, the daggers are out.
Although Allegri got the dreaded vote of confidence from club president Andrea Agnelli, nothing but victory over local rivals Torino will assuage growing anxiety among Allianz Arena fans, many of whom feel he’s close to losing the dressing room after publicly criticising his players’ lack of passion on Tuesday. The Turin press are certain to savage Allegri unless he can arrest a slide threatening to reduce the Old Lady into division also runs.
Ahead of their Sunday clash with Bologna, Serie A pacesetters Napoli sent a stern message to division rivals by whitewashing Ajax Amsterdam 4-2 in a Group A Champions League fixture to seal qualification to the knock out rounds. Unless they slow down, Luciano Spalletti’s Partenopei are on course to match the record for most goals scored in group stage set by Paris Saint Germain in 2017/18.
There is little room for error in the race for Champions League slots as just two points separate second placed Atalanta from sixth placed AS Roma. With Napoli not in action until Sunday, Gian Piero Gasperini’s Nerazzuri can take temporary possession of the number one slot if they overcome Sassuolo on Saturday night.
Fireworks are to be expected at Udinese’s Dacio Arena when they host Maurizio Sarri’s free scoring Lazio on Sunday. The teams are joint third on 20 points along with AC Milan who travel to Hellas Verona on Monday night. Andrea Sottil’s Bianconeri are punching well above their weight but they will be mindful of the threat posed by division top scorer Ciro Immobile, Luis Alberto and Pedro. AS Roma will be without leading marksman Paulo Dybala when they travel to Sampdoria on Monday.
Empoli v Monza, Torino v Juventus,
Atalanta v Sassuolo
Inter Milan v Salernitana,
Lazio v Udinese,
Spezia v Cremonese,
Napoli v Bologna
Hellas Verona v AC Milan,
Sampdoria v AS Roma,
Lecce v Fiorentina