Allegri warns Juve of Malmo complacency

Sept 15, 1:09 PM

TURIN, Italy, Sept 15, 2014 (AFP) - Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri has warned the Bianconeri a win against Malmo will not necessarily come easy when the sides clash in a Champions League Group A opener in Turin on Tuesday.

On paper the Italian champions face what could be their easiest fixture of the group -- Malmo are the first Swedish side in the competition since Helsingborgs IF in 2000-2001 and had to come three tough qualifying rounds to qualify for the group stages.

Allegri, however, said it would be a mistake to take any team for granted. The Italian, who succeeded Antonio Conte last month, pointed to their third-place finish behind Real Madrid and Galatasaray and their failure to qualify.

And he believes the fact the Swedish championship started several weeks before Italy's Serie A is a factor that can't be dismissed.

"On paper our group looks simple, but last year it was a similar scenario and Juventus were eliminated. It just shows that groups described as easy are not necessarily so," Allegri told reporters.

"Malmo are definitely ahead of us in terms of condition, because their championship is further ahead than ours.

"They are also a well organised team who are physical and are fast. We have to be focused and make sure we don't forget our defensive responsibilities."

A win for Juve would help ease any early pressure on Allegri, sacked by Milan in January and who has yet to win over large swathes of fans in Turin following three success-laden years under Conte.

Juve will be missing midfielders Arturo Vidal and Andrea Pirlo (both thigh) and defender Andrea Barzagli (calf), although the recent signing of wingback Patrice Evra and young strikers Kingsley Coman and Alvaro Morata has injected some life into Allegri's side.

Allegri said Argentinian striker Carlos Tevez, who scored one goal in a 2-0 win over Udinese at the weekend despite injury fears leading up to the game, was 100 percent fit.

Tevez, who has been sublime for Juve in the league, is still hunting for his first Champions League goal since April 7, 2009.

"He is fine, he played well (against Udinese) so he is available for tomorrow."

Despite being the reigning Swedish champions, Malmo's entry to the competition was given a boost by UEFA's initiative to ensure more European leagues are represented in the tournament proper.

Allegri welcomed that initiative, but said Juve would be doing everything they can to make sure they go better than last season, when they dropped into the Europa League and were ousted at the semi-final stage by Benfica.

"UEFA are right. It's important for teams that have won their league to be represented in the competition. Everyone has the right to participate in the Champions League," said the 47-year-old.

"Reaching the quarter-finals would be an important step for us, but right now we are focused on winning this first game and advancing in the group."

Feature photo courtesy of Reuters/Giorgio Perottino