Juventus defender Giorgio Chiellini has warned his side must quickly work their way back into a winning groove if they are to avoid dropping out of the race to qualify for next season’s Champions League.The Old Lady battled to a 1-1 draw at home to Lazio last weekend to snap a miserable run of results.
The point was Juve’s first in four league games and lifted the Bianconeri to fifth, level on 41 points with Palermo and four adrift of Napoli, who hold the last Champions League qualifying spot.
Next up for Juve is a trip to Livorno tomorrow, and Chiellini believes the improvement needs to start now ahead of his side’s return to European action later this month.
“It is an important moment to recover physical and mental energy and come back stronger,” Chiellini said.
“Luckily we have two weeks without any midweek commitments, during which we can train well, and we are doing so.
“Now we must get back to winning ways, because otherwise we will drift too far from the Champions League zone.
“We must try to progress in the Europa League and qualify for the Champions League directly.
“It will not be easy but we have the duty to try.”
The Italy international admitted he and his team-mates must accept their share of the blame for the position the club finds itself in, and has vowed to turn things around in the coming months.
He said: “I think we have the ability to win in Livorno, but it will not be easy because we will be playing in a very heated and intense atmosphere.
“I feel responsible for this bad year, just like my team-mates do, and we are all wanting to improve because ending the season in this manner is not conceivable.”
New Juve coach Alberto Zaccheroni was encouraged by the performance against Lazio last time out.
“Against Lazio we saw a Juve side that showed great will and this will only improve with time,” said Zaccheroni, who replaced sacked Ciro Ferrara last week.
“I think from now on we will see the team grow in confidence.”
Juve have scored just two goals in their last four league games while giving away six.
Livorno coach Serse Cosmi hopes his side will show the same battling performance they displayed at AC Milan when they host Juve.
The promoted club held second-placed Milan to a 1-1 draw at the San Siro last weekend to remain two points above the drop zone.
“It’s an important point taken at a difficult stadium,” said Cosmi.
“Perhaps we could have won the game but the important thing is that my team battled from start to finish.
“Now we must pick up where we left off against AC Milan when we meet a Juve side that, like us, will be desperate to take a good result.”
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|* Goals per match – home matches for home club and away matches for away club