Juventus easily disposed of Bayer Leverkusen 3-0 in the second matchday of this season’s Champions League to go joint top of Group D. Well-taken goals from Gonzalo Higuain, Federico Bernardeschi and Cristiano Ronaldo ensured the result as Juve turned it on in the second half.
Speaking after the game, manager Maurizio Sarri explained his choice of giving Bernardeschi the surprise start.
“I liked the way Bernardeschi trained over the last few days, Aaron Ramsey needed a rest, and we knew his pace would be of use.
“It was difficult, as Bayer love possession and they are not easy to face, so they took a lot of energy out of us in the first half. After the break, they slowed down a little and we took control.”
His overall reactions regarding the game?
“The team played a good game; they found a clever opponent who can dribble and are able to. We managed the ball well in the second half, by not conceding anything and playing a match of substance and quality.”
The defence looked solid holding the Bundesliga side to no shots on goal.
“Juan Cuadrado is growing into the role of right-back and everyone benefited from that. Matthijs de Ligt is growing exponentially. The defence moved well, although we can do better, and Bayer kept possession, but did nothing in the final third.
“Cuadrado is defending and attacking in the right way, he never left us unbalanced. The only area where he can improve in this role is in one-on-one situations, as he goes to ground too easily and gets booked with unnecessary tackles. I am sure that working with Andrea Barzagli, he’ll improve on that too.”
Questions continue to be asked about when he’ll play the trident of Paulo Dybala, Higuain and Cristiano Ronaldo together.
“If I am sitting in a bar, it seems like a good idea to me too. If I am on the bench, then I have to take the balance of the side into consideration.
“If the team in future finds a great deal of balance, then we can try it, but right now that seems premature.”
Meanwhile, Cuadrado also spoke about the impression Barzagli is already making on him.
“I am very happy. From the start when talking to the Coach, I tried to change my mentality and be fully concentrated, as I know that I can do better, but Barzagli is on me constantly, so I can’t relax for a second!”
Pipita, who scored the opener, seemed motivated throughout the game.
“It’s always good to play in these games, to score even more so, now we can rest and prepare for the next match, which will be another battle to close on the top of the Serie A table.
“I came here with great determination, I wanted to prove I could stay here and there’s a long season ahead.”
Bernardeschi talked about the role he was given today by Sarri.
“I found out I’d play at the pre-match meeting. I am very happy and have been working hard, but am above all happy with the victory, as I think tonight we saw the Juventus that we all want.
“I always work hard and am aware that training is fundamental for the player and the Coach, keeping yourself in good shape and always giving your best so that you’re ready if called upon.
“I like playing as a trequartista, as I can roam all the way along the front line, while the Coach also asked the forwards to press the opposition, as it helps the rest of the team if we are the first line of pressing and stop them building up a head of steam.”