December 3, 2022

Football
Juventus’ Adrien Rabiot scores during a Serie A match against Empoli on Friday. | Photo Credit: Fabio Ferrari
Talking points from the Serie A weekend:
Final Champions League test for Juve
Juventus’ 4-0 crushing of Empoli on Friday lifted some pressure off coach Massimiliano Allegri’s worried shoulders.
But while three wins in last four Serie A outings bring a sense of long-awaited relief, in the Champions League Juventus continues to walk on very thin ice.
For Juve, which is placed third in Group H on three points, anything less than a win at Benfica on Tuesday will dash its remaining hopes of advancing to the tournament’s knockout stage.
“(It) will be an important game for two reasons: we’re not out of the Champions League (yet) and we’re not in the Europa League either,” Allegri said after the Empoli win.
“We will face a strong team (but) we can go there and overturn the result by playing a good game. We must be confident.”
Title defence nearing for Pioli?
With its 4-1 sinking of promoted Serie A side Monza at the San Siro on Saturday, AC Milan has collected its fourth consecutive league win.
Although there are many points still in play, the numbers continue to align in favour of Stefano Pioli’s team which is committed to doing what it takes to defend its league title.
Last weekend, Milan won the seventh of its 10 opening Serie A games to a season as defending champion for the first time since 1992-93. It would go on to win its second consecutive title that season.
Milan only managed to defend its Serie A title twice: in 1993 and 1994.
On Saturday, Pioli’s men proved they are serious about the challenge, taking their tally to an eighth win in 11 games, having lost only one — to leader Napoli — and drawn two.
Bad week for Udinese
Andrea Sottil’s Udinese suffered a 2-1 home defeat by Torino, bringing an end to the run of nine unbeaten games in Serie A.
Earlier this week, the team was eliminated from Coppa Italia after a 3-2 home loss against Monza.
Sottil did not blame the players and said it was only fine margins that stopped its unbeaten streak.
“I have nothing to criticise my players for. Matches are decided by episodes and today we lacked a bit of luck,” Sottil said.
Udinese will hope its luck returns when it travels to Cremonese next Sunday.
Roma struggling to score
Jose Mourinho’s AS Roma provided no shots on goal in the 1-0 loss against Napoli on Sunday at Stadio Olimpico.
The lack of goals in Serie A has been a big problem for Roma this season, having scored only 13, half the total of league leader Napoli.
The fact that defender Chris Smalling is Roma’s second highest goalscorer this season with three highlights its struggles.
“We still need to be more clinical in front of goal. According to the statistics, we only get about half our shots on target,” Mourinho said.
With Paulo Dybala injured and Tammy Abraham in poor form, it will not be easy for Roma to increase its tally with so few forwards fit and available. 
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