TURIN : A run of five consecutive wins in all competitions has calmed Juventus down after a sluggish start to the season, coach Massimiliano Allegri said ahead of his side's Champions League clash with Zenit St Petersburg.
The Turin club began their Serie A campaign disastrously after Allegri returned for a second spell as coach in the close season, failing to win any of their opening four games for the first time in 60 years.
But Juve's form has turned around recently and they travel to Russia unbeaten in seven games in all competitions, keeping a clean sheet in their last three.
"It makes me smile when people talk about 'your Juve'. I have good players at my disposal, but it is normal that at the beginning I did not known them all well,” Allegri told a news conference.
"At the moment the team is enjoying defending and this is a good thing, but we need to improve in attack and defence.
"But good results increase self-confidence and make you work more calmly."
Juve's streak of good form included a 3-0 win against Sweden's Malmo and a 1-0 victory over European champions Chelsea, leaving them top of Group H.
Russian league leaders Zenit followed up an opening defeat by Chelsea by thrashing Malmo 4-0 and they sit third, behind the English club on head-to-head record.
"Zenit is a team with important technical quality, with very good players in the centre of the pitch," Allegri said.
"To come away with a positive result we need to play a great match."
Allegri revealed that Matthijs de Ligt will start alongside Leonardo Bonucci in defence on his return from injury, with Wojciech Szczesny in goal.
But the game comes too soon for forward Paulo Dybala, who is expected to return to fitness in time for Sunday's Serie A game against champions Inter Milan.
(Reporting by Alasdair Mackenzie; Editing by Christian Radnedge)