Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri says the team’s defeat to Inter has given him cause for concern ahead of Sunday’s Serie A clash with AC Milan.
Seven wins from their opening eight games of the league campaign has given the champions an early five-point lead at the top of the table, with their sole defeat coming in a 2-1 loss to Frank de Boer’s side at San Siro last month.
While Inter have struggled to replicate that display since, city rivals Milan have enjoyed a five-match unbeaten run to take them level on points with second-placed Roma ahead of their meeting with Juve.
And Allegri, who guided Milan to their last Serie A title in 2011, admits to being wary of Vincenzo Montella’s in-form side.
“I have to congratulate Milan, because they’re having a great championship,” he said. “They have some good young players who will be the future of the Italy team.
“Milan-Juventus matches are always very close. Against Inter, we went out as favourites and we got a good whack.
“We must be careful: Suso and [M’Baye] Niang have technique, [Carlos] Bacca attacks the area, [Giacomo] Bonaventura is a creator.
“We have a lot of respect for Milan. They’re a young team, they’re strong. They deserve second place, but the season is long.”
Allegri hopes to have Mario Mandzukic available after he missed the Champions League win over Lyon this week with an adductor injury, though Giorgio Chiellini (calf) and Marko Pjaca (leg fracture) are out.
Claudio Marchisio will again be part of the squad, however, after the Italy international completed an hour of a midweek friendly as he continues his recovery from knee surgery.
“The only one we can bring back is Mandzukic. Chiellini won’t be there, with a view to him being available for Wednesday. Neither will Pjaca,” Allegri said.
“Marchisio will be called up – he managed 60 minutes in a friendly game on Wednesday. [Daniele] Rugani worked with the group and we’ll see how much pain he has in his knee.”
Allegri is likely to leave Juan Cuadrado on the bench once more, despite him scoring the winner against Lyon.
“The numbers tell you – he’s been crucial. He deserves to start but I need players like him to make an impact off the bench,” he added.