Turin, Jan 11 (IANS) Juventus head coach Massimiliano Allegri has lauded his team for jumping to the second spot with a ninth consecutive win in Serie A. Juventus beat Sampdoria in Genoa on Sunday to take their points tally to 39 points from 19 games — same as Inter Milan but ahead on goal difference. Inter Milan were removed from the top spot following a 0-1 loss to Sassuolo while Napoli demolished Frosinone 5-1 to be the halfway leaders with 41 points. It was the defending champions’ ninth win on the trot and now they are back in title contention despite a poor start that saw them lying at the 12th spot with four losses and three draws in the first 10 matches. Coach Allegri said that they believed that they can turn things around even when things were not going in their favour. “Achieving nine straight league victories is no mean feat,” Allegri told juventus.com. began. 

“We believed that we could turn things around because we just simply had to improve and now you’re seeing completely different players from the ones you saw at the start of the season,” the 48-year-old added. However, the former Milan tactician was quick to stress that there is still room for improvement for the reigning champions. “When individually the guys start growing, the team as a whole will follow suit. We need to manage the game slightly better and not try and force the play when we don’t need to,” he felt. “As for tonight’s game, we should have closed the game out instead of letting them back into it, however good (Antonio) Cassano’s finish was. Credit to him, he was excellent throughout.” 

Moving on to the qualities of his own squad, a goal apiece for Paul Pogba and Sami Khedira and a solid return to action for Hernanes deputising for the suspended Claudio Marchisio ensured Allegri would reserve special praise for his midfield trio, paying particular homage to the Brazilian’s promising showing in front of the back four. “If (Hernanes) continues to improve in that position in front of the defence then he will be a very important player for us and I thought he was very good both offensively and defensively tonight. I’m pleased with the performance of the whole team even if we didn’t control the game as we should have done,” Allegri said. “Pogba and Khedira are excellent at breaking the lines and bursting into the box and with (Alvaro) Morata and (Paulo) Dybala making great runs in front of them, we are always going to create chances and find space in the final third. The more fluid they become together the better we will be.”

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