Juventus escaped with a narrow win over a plucky Sporting CP side in their Champions League group game yesterday, requiring a Miralem Pjanic equalizer from a sublime freekick and a late, brave diving header from Mario Mandzukic to win all three points at hand.
After the game, manager Massimiliano Allegri was quite unimpressed by how his side looked, and pulled no punches in the post-match press conference.
“We are not sharp right now, as some players were out for a while, others returned from international duty in bad shape, so we must continue to work.
“Last season is in the past, so to remain at a certain level, you must fight and work every single day. I thought Gonzalo Higuain played very well tonight with character, quality and physicality.
“It’s never easy to win in the Champions League, we’ve made a step forward, but there’s a long way to go and we must try to reconnect, as some of our elements are a bit disconnected.
“It’s one season up to November and another after that. After the next break for international duty is when the Juventus season will really begin.”
Despite warning his side about making game management mistakes on the eve of the game, they fell prey to the same errors early -
“We made some technical errors, especially in the opening 20 minutes, then at the end we were running a lot of risks rather than locking down the result.
“We had many more chances to score and we didn’t take them. At this moment we need to rediscover our solidity, which I think we did have tonight when Sporting had the ball, but naturally our fitness levels and sharpness must improve and we can only do that via training.”
Allegri was relieved to finally have a win after a draw and a loss in the last two Serie A games.
“I am happy with what we did in some moments of the game, but glad we fought to the end. Of our last few games, we won this one and I think it was our worst performance compared to Atalanta or Lazio. We missed penalties, had black-outs that proved costly, but tonight I saw more consistency.”