Juventus won 3-1 away at Verona for the first time in over a decade, keeping pace with Serie A leaders Napoli while simultaneously opening up a gap over title-contending wannabes AS Roma, Inter Milan and Lazio.
After the game, manager Massimiliano Allegri spoke to the media, starting with starlet Paulo Dybala who scored a brace to ensure the win.
“It’s important that Paulo found the net again. After the goal, he started to play better, as he was in a delicate moment where things weren’t quite going his way. He’s started taking free kicks better too.
“Psychology is everything in football and confidence is key. You have to be focused and determined. I think the only advice for Paulo is to think just about his football and his journey, not worrying about comparisons with players like Leo Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo. There’s no need to get swept up in the anxiety of trying to over-do it.”
Despite the win though, Allegri was unimpressed by the team’s performance as a whole.
“We all know it was not a good performance. We put the victory at risk after a strong start, because we slowed down, made far too many mistakes, lost the ball repeatedly, and we need to improve on that.
“We cannot afford to drop points in these situations, especially as today was crucial to break away from the chasing pack and complete an extraordinary first half to the season.”
Juve are now still one point off Napoli, but are now six clear of Inter in third.
“There are still 19 games to go and many points up for grabs, so we have to look at what is ahead of us and that’s Napoli. They’ve had an extraordinary 2017, play impressive football and are a strong antagonist. We’ve got 18 games to overtake them…
“What I hope for the second half of the season is that Juventus stay in the running on all three fronts. Winning away from home is not easy, we’ve got a fair few away fixtures coming up and so this is the key moment of the season for us. It’s the most difficult to prepare, but also the most important.”
Former fan-favourite Martin Caceres scored the equalizer today for Verona with a lovely strike from distance.
“We conceded an avoidable goal, as we lost the ball in possession. The lads reacted well and brought home an important result, but the performance was certainly not up to our standards, especially in the period between our goal and their equaliser.
“With Mario Mandzukic basically acting as the fourth midfielder, we were lacking something in width. We lost the ball repeatedly and allowed Verona so many counter-attacks. They are in good shape and run hard, so it was a dangerous fixture.
“Plus Juventus hadn’t won in Verona in Serie A since 2001, so it was not to be taken for granted by any means. I was about to substitute Mandzukic just before the goal, as when the situation seems to be ‘easy’ he tends to go into stand-by mode and save energy.”