Juventus seek Brescia boost after draw in cup semis against Milan - GulfToday

Juventus seek Brescia boost after draw in cup semis against Milan

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Juventus’ Cristiano Ronaldo scores against AC Milan during their Italian Cup semi-final first leg match in Turin on Thursday. Reuters

Juventus return to their home comforts of Turin after a poor away run, hosting struggling Brescia on Sunday with top spot in Serie A at stake as title rivals Inter Milan and Lazio go head-to-head in the Stadio Olimpico.

Inter moved top last weekend ahead of Juventus on goal difference after the eight-time reigning champions’ shock 2-1 defeat at Hellas Verona.

Maurizio Sarri’s side will be counting on a win over Mario Balotelli’s lowly Brescia, who are second last in the table.

Sarri’s side have been rattled by two successive away defeats, with Cristiano Ronaldo’s late penalty snatching a 1-1 draw in their Italian Cup semi-final, first leg against AC Milan at the San Siro on Thursday.

“We have to change gears. We need more from everyone,” said Leonardo Bonucci with a Champions League last 16 trip to Lyon looming later this month.

“There is absolute unity with the coach,” insisted Juventus chief football officier Fabio Paratici.

“We have precise ideas along with Sarri which go beyond a game done a little less well or a game done better.

Juventus have never lost at home in the league against Brescia, with the promoted side winning just four games this season and none since mid-December.

In a three-team title race, Lazio are just one point behind the leading duo, and on an 18-game unbeaten run going back to a defeat to Inter back in September. Antonio Conte’s Inter showed signs of fatigue as they fell 1-0 at home to Napoli in the Italian Cup after a stunning derby comeback win.

But Inter have lost only one of their last seven games against Lazio while Romelu Lukaku has scored 12 away goals this season for Inter.

Lazio boost Serie A top scoer Ciro Immobile who has scored 15 goals at home, for a total of 25 this season. Behind the leading trio Champions League hopefuls Atalanta and Roma also face a direct clash in Bergamo.

Atalanta are fourth, 11 points behind Lazio, with Roma a further three points adrift in fifth.

The side from the capital have lost their last two games.

Napoli, in 11th, look to get back to winning ways at Cagliari, who shocked the southerners in the reverse fixture in Naples. The Sardinians are eighth, just two points off the Europa League places despite being on a nine-match winless run.

Hellas Verona, in sixth, travel to Udinese after their success against Juventus, as Torino, on a run of four consecutive defeats, travel to Zlatan Ibrhaimovic’s Milan.

Earlier, Ronaldo’s injury-time penalty grabbed Juventus a 1-1 draw at Milan in their Italian Cup semi-final, first leg as his incredible scoring run continued.

The 35-year-old has now scored 12 goals in his last eight games in all competitions after the Portuguese ultimately got the better of old rival Zlatan Ibrahimovic despite being largely anonymous for much of the match.

Milan paid for Theo Hernandez’s 71st-minute red card as they failed to close out a game they had dominated for long periods and led through Ante Rebic. Juve will now be favourites to finish the job in the second leg at the Allianz Stadium next month, with a final against either Inter Milan or Napoli up for grabs.

The hosts started strongly, with Ibrahimovic heading over the crossbar inside the first minute.

He continued to be a threat to his former club early on, but could only direct an ambitious backheel flick beyond the far post, before picking up a booking which will see him miss the second leg through suspension.

Juventus finally produced their first shot in anger nine minutes before half-time, as Juan Cuadrado saw his low strike well saved by Milan goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma.

Milan started the second half as they did the first, on the front foot, but Rebic was denied an opening goal by Gianluigi Buffon.

Samu Castillejo also called Buffon into action seven minutes after the break, with the 42-year-old goalkeeper able to make a comfortable save.

Agence France-Presse


Italian League fixtures (all times GMT)

Saturday: Lecce vs SPAL (1400GMT), Bologna vs Genoa (1700), Atalanta vs AS Roma (1945)
Sunday: Udinese vs Hellas Verona (1130GMT), Juventus vs Brescia, Sampdoria vs Fiorentina, Sassuolo vs Parma (all 1400GMT), Cagliari vs Napoli (1700), Lazio vs Inter Milan (1945)
Monday: AC Milan Vs Torino (1945)