Milan (AFP) – Massimiliano Allegri warned that Juventus will unleash fury in their quest for a seventh straight Serie A title after another shattered Champions League dream.
“We start again with our heads high, even very high,” said coach Allegri after the bitter disappointment of winning 3-1 on the night at Real Madrid only to lose their quarter-final 4-3 on aggregate, after Cristiano Ronaldo’s 97th-minute penalty.
“There’s no use crying about it. We’re disappointed but we need to get that out of our system because we’re back in league action on Sunday
“Now we have to be furious in Italy, to bring home the seventh Scudetto and the fourth Italian Cup in a row.”
The Italian champions returned to Turin from Spain on Thursday after the nightmare of referee Michael Oliver waving a red card in captain Gianluigi Buffon’s face after he angrily protested a penalty awarded in the final minute.
It produced yet another night of Champions League disappointment for the Turin giants who have had many with five consecutive European final defeats between 1997 and last year’s to Real Madrid in Cardiff.
But this one could be the bitterest with the club facing UEFA disciplinary action for Buffon’s rant against the English referee who he said had “a rubbish bin” instead of a heart, and Juventus president Andrea Agnelli who demanded the removal of UEFA chief refereeing officer Pierluigi Collina.
“Now we need to turn this rage and disappointment into positivity for this month and a half that remains, where we still have Scudetto and Italian Cup to win,” said defender Giorgio Chiellini.
The first to deal with this Juventus fury will be Sampdoria on Sunday, a team sitting eighth, four points off the Europa League places, who inflicted one of just two defeats on the champions this season back in November.
“It will be tough against the strongest team in Italy, after Madrid they will still be angry,” said Sampdoria goalkeeper Emiliano Viviano.
“Juventus are injured, they are champions who have won six years in a row, they will want to bring everything home.”
Juventus have 81 points from 31 games — a four-point lead on second-placed Napoli who face AC Milan on Sunday.
Napoli beat Milan earlier this season before Gennaro Gattuso took over from Vincenzo Montella, with the club now sixth, eight points off their Champions League ambitions with just seven games to play.
– Roman derby –
Lazio and AS Roma — both on 60 points — go head to head in the Stadio Olimpico after a week of contrasting European fortunes.
Lazio crashed out of the Europa League after losing 4-1 to Salzburg in Austria on Thursday night despite winning 4-2 in Rome last week.
Roma are riding high after a crazy night at the Stadio Olimpico saw them beat Barcelona 3-0 to reach the Champions League semi-finals, thanks to Edin Dzeko’s away goal.
“There’s a big chance with the derby on Sunday, we have to recover physical and psychological energy,” said Lazio coach Simone Inzaghi “There are seven rounds to go and we’ll do everything to earn a very important position.”
Inter Milan — who have dropped out of the Champions League places into fifth after last week’s loss to Torino — travel to Atalanta desperately in need of a win to keep their elite European ambitions alive.
Saturday (all times GMT)
Cagliari v Udinese (1300), Chievo v Torino, Genoa v Crotone (1600); Atalanta v Inter Milan (1845)
Fiorentina v SPAL (1030), Bologna v Verona, AC Milan v Napoli, Sassuolo v Benevento (all 1300GMT); Juventus v Sampdoria (1600), Lazio v AS Roma (1845)