Angry Juve coach wants group top spot

Angry Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri has called on the Italians to qualify in style for the last 16 of the Champions League by beating Atletico Madrid to finish top of Group A.

Angry Juve coach wants group top spot
Massimiliano Allegri said he was "very angry" over his team's recent performance against Lazio. Photo: Marco Bertorello/AFP

Second-half goals from Fernandro Llorente and Carlos Tevez gave a huge boost to Juve's qualifying hopes on Wednesday when Allegri's men secured a valuable 2-0 win over Malmo in Sweden.

It was Juve's first away win in the competition in six attempts and left the Turin giants second in the group, three points behind Atletico and three ahead of Olympiakos, who suffered a 4-0 defeat in Spain to the La Liga champions.

Allegri was pilloried in the Italian sports press following Juve's 3-2 home win over Olympiakos two weeks ago when he claimed the Old Lady could realistically oust the Spanish champions from top spot in the group.

After Wednesday's win left Juve requiring only a draw to go through, Allegri was sticking to his guns. "Against Atletico we need to play at our very best and win by two goals if we want to finish top of the group," Allegri said. 

"It will be a great match. But first and foremost, we have to secure our qualification."

Adopting the same 4-3-1-2 formation that beat Lazio 3-0 last weekend, Allegri's men overcame a messy opening half on a poor playing surface to create a host of chances after the restart.

Yet before Carlos Tevez's 88th minute strike, the 48-year-old was seen gesticulating and kicking wildly on the touchlines as Juve failed to put chance after chance away.

Allegri admitted: "I was very angry, we created a lot of great chances and simply had to settle the match much earlier.

"We have to be more clinical, especially in matches that are vitally important."

Arturo Vidal and Claudio Marchisio, twice, spurned first-half chances and Marchisio again tested Robin Olsen in the hosts' net two minutes after the restart.

A Vidal cross then found Tevez in front of goal but the Argentina striker's effort was just off target.

Juve finally broke the deadlock on 49 minutes when Llorente ran on to Marchisio's through ball to hold off his marker and round Olsen before slipping the ball into the net.

It was Llorente's third Champions League goal, but first of the season and clearly gave the visitors a confidence boost.

Marchisio tested Olsen again minutes later and on 71 minutes Simone Padoin delivered for Llorente to head straight to the keeper.

Llorente made way for Alvaro Morata moments later but on 87 minutes the former Real Madrid striker's prod from Tevez's drive across goal came off the underside of Olsen's bar.

Tevez finally secured the win when a long ball from midfield towards Morata was headed into the path of Paul Pogba by defender Erik Johansson.

Pogba picked up the loose ball and squared for Tevez to beat the onrushing Olsen with an angled bobbling strike.

It was Tevez's first away goal in the competition in over six years, and the Argentinian said: "The pitch wasn't in good condition, but it helped my shot go in so I can't complain."

Juventus will be looking for a far more clinical performance in Turin on December 9th against Atletico, who snatched a 1-0 win from a tight encounter when the sides last met at the Vicente Calderon stadium. A draw will see Juventus through, but the Bianconeri seem to have higher aims.

"It will be like a final against Atletico," said Marchisio. "We played well in Madrid, even though we lost the game.

"Qualification is the most important thing but we will try to win our final game and, if things go well, we will also try to score more and finish first."

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Euro 2020: Concern about virus spread after Italy players’ ‘unauthorised’ victory parade through Rome

Italy’s national football team reportedly insisted on taking an open-top bus tour through Rome to show off their European Championship trophy to crowds of fans - despite city authorities forbidding it amid concern about the spread of coronavirus.

Euro 2020: Concern about virus spread after Italy players' ‘unauthorised’ victory parade through Rome
Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP

The team’s bus parade through the city on Monday night following their Euro 2020 triumph “was not authorised”, according to Matteo Piantedosi the head of Rome’s prefettura (the public safety authority).

Thousands of fans packed the streets of central Rome to see the team celebrate their cup win after beating England on penalties in the final.

READ ALSO: ‘Football came home’: Italy celebrates Euro 2020 victory over England

Piantedosi told Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera on Wednesday: “We had denied permission to celebrate Italy’s victory in the European Championships on the open bus, but the pact was not respected.”

Piantedosi, who is Rome’s top public security official, said police had “no choice” but to let the parade go ahead after players Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci insisted on it.

Photo: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP

A meeting had been held on Friday with the Italian football federation (FIGC) to discuss plans for the celebrations if Italy won, said Piantedosi.

“I had agreed the line with Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese and Chief of Police Lamberto Giannini,” he said.

“It was clearly explained that [the parade] was not possible. We said we could not authorize it.”

Piantedosi said the Italian football federation (FIGC) initially agreed to hold a “controlled” ceremony in Rome’s central Piazza del Popolo instead of the parade.

After players insisted on the bus tour on Monday however, Piantedosi said, authorities reluctantly let them go ahead due to fears of sparking public disorder.

“At that point we had no choice but to acknowledge the situation and handle it in the best way we could,” he said.

READ ALSO: Covid cases on the rise in Europe once again as WHO warns of Euro 2020 risk

Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

In a statement on Wednesday, the FIGC said it had acted responsibly but decided not to disappoint fans who had come to celebrate with the team.

Footage of large crowds thronging the bus carrying the ‘Azzurri’ and the European Championship trophy through the capital however fuelled concerns about new outbreaks of coronavirus, after Italy’s infection rate began to rise again last week.

The World Health Organization warned earlier this month that crowds and gatherings connected to football matches will fuel a new rise in cases across Europe this summer.

READ ALSO: Delta variant in Italy will be ‘prevalent within 10 days’: health official

Italy’s health minister Roberto Speranza also voiced concerns on Monday about the consequences of people gathering to watch sporting events.

He said the European football championship win was “a great joy after terrible months,” but “even in these moments of national pride we can’t forget that our ‘game’ to defeat Covid is not yet won.”

There are currently minimal health restrictions in place across Italy, however masks are supposed to be worn in crowded public places, including outdoors.

“Footage shows that police were virtually the only ones [in the crowd] wearing masks,” said Piantedosi.