Juve march on

Al­le­gri’s Eng­land move ru­mors swirl

Global Times - Weekend - - FRONT PAGE - Photo: CFP

The prospect of Mas­si­m­il­iano Al­le­gri fol­low­ing Chelsea man­ager An­to­nio Conte to the Premier League ap­pear on the in­crease as Ju­ven­tus travel to Cagliari on Sun­day look­ing to tighten their grip on Serie A.

Conte led the Turin giants to three con­sec­u­tive league ti­tles be­fore Al­le­gri took over the helm when for­mer Ju­ven­tus mid­fielder Conte took the helm of Italy for Euro 2016.

Ju­ven­tus hold a seven-point lead on ti­tle ri­vals Roma with Napoli in third at nine points adrift and Al­le­gri is well on his way to se­cur­ing a record­set­ting sixth con­sec­u­tive scud­etto.

But al­ready, ru­mors are swirling.

Al­le­gri con­firmed weeks ago he is learn­ing English and when asked specif­i­cally about re­ported in­ter­est from Premier League clubs he said ear­lier this week, “I’m not con­firm­ing and I’m not deny­ing.”

Re­ports sug­gest­ing Al­le­gri could be the long-term re­place­ment for Arsene Wenger at Arse­nal might be pre­ma­ture, but they ap­peared the same day Napoli coach Mau­r­izio Sarri de­nied hav­ing met Ju­ven­tus of­fi­cials.

Sarri, who steered Napoli to sec­ond spot in his first sea­son in charge last term when for­mer club striker Gon­zalo Higuain hit a new league record of 36 goals, has a new con­tract un­til 2020 wait­ing to be signed.

But he said, “I don’t have time to think about the [new] con­tract. All I can tell you is I’ve called my lawyer to find out whether to sue the per­son who wrote that I met with [of­fi­cials from] Ju­ven­tus.”

With or with­out the ru­mors, Ju­ven­tus look un­stop­pable in Italy.

Al­le­gri’s men swept aside a bat­tling In­ter Mi­lan to win 1-0 last week and moved fur­ther ahead with a 2-0 win at Cro­tone, post­poned due to the Ital­ian Su­per Cup fi­nal, in mid­week.

In­ter are still smart­ing and host Em­poli hop­ing to get back to win­ning ways with­out the triple at­tack­ing threat of Mauro Icardi, Ivan Perisic and Marcelo Bro­zovic.

Croa­tia mid­fielder Perisic was shown a straight red card for in­sult­ing the ref­eree and was banned for two games.

Icardi was handed the same sanc­tion for launch­ing a foul-mouthed tirade at the ref­eree, as well as kick­ing the ball at him, with­out hit­ting him.

In­ter have ap­pealed the sanc­tions and are ex­pected to have an an­swer be­fore Sun­day’s af­ter­noon kick­off, when coach Ste­fano Pi­oli will also be with­out Bro­zovic after he suf­fered a bro­ken toe in Turin.

City ri­vals AC Mi­lan travel to Lazio on Mon­day buoyed by a pre­cious 1-0 mid­week win at Bologna, with nine men, which ended a run of three de­feats.

“We’re very happy but we have to ask our­selves why we went down to nine men,” said mid­fielder An­drea Poli. Mi­lan were with­out Gabriel Paletta from the 37th minute and also lost Ju­raj Kucka to a sec­ond yel­low card on the hour. “There’s a good at­mos­phere, I can’t re­mem­ber a game with so much adren­a­line as that,” said Poli. “On Mon­day we have to go to Rome and win.” Lazio, how­ever, are one of a few teams ca­pa­ble of trou­bling Roma and Napoli for one of the league’s three Cham­pi­ons League places. They sit fourth, 14 points be­hind lead­ers Ju­ven­tus. Striker Ciro Im­mo­bile has been crit­i­cized for a lack of goals against “big” sides, but said, “I’m un­der a lit­tle bit of pres­sure to score against a big side ... It’s a very im­por­tant game against Mi­lan, they beat Bologna with nine men.” De­spite the gap to Juve, club pres­i­dent Aure­lio de Lau­ren­tiis said, “Even though Ju­ven­tus are more clin­i­cal than us, I still be­lieve in [ fin­ish­ing in] first place. “Sarri’s foot­ball is unique in Europe. We should all rec­og­nize that we can go to Real Madrid be­liev­ing in our chances.”

Ju­ven­tus’ coach Mas­si­m­il­iano Al­le­gri ges­tures dur­ing the match against In­ter Mi­lan on February 5.

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