Juventus dominated their Champions League Matchday 3 game against Lokomotiv Moscow everywhere but on the scoreboard, and until Paulo Dybala stepped up late on with a brace, looked like they would lose ignominiously at home.
Speaking after the game, manager Maurizio Sarri commended his side for keeping their calm.
“We had few problems at the back. Unfortunately, we went behind on a counter and they became even more dense back there.
“I think we did very well not to lose our heads, as we kept patient and moved the ball. We felt it was always obvious the game could be turned around, but the real anxiety was we could get panicked. We had 28 shots.
“I told the lads we shattered Champions League records on possession. The risk was to smash face-first into the wall repeatedly and then get irritable, but we kept our heads.”
Sarri hasn’t used Paulo Dybala much with Cristiano Ronaldo and Gonzalo Higuain, but the trio got extended minutes together in the second half.
“We had the feeling later on that Lokomotiv no longer had the legs to counter, so I took the risk and put on Higuain as well as Adrien Rabiot with Rodrigo Bentancur.
“Unfortunately, our system tends to make us push more through the centre. In the second half, we tried to move more down the right, as when Paulo is a trequartista, he leans towards the right, so we often get a bit too one-sided. We’re working on that.”
Questions were asked if Sarri had gotten his tactics all wrong against the Russian side.
“I don’t think we got the wrong approach at all. We were just a little slow and kept the tempo slow throughout the first half, as we weren’t very sharp physically more than psychologically. We are playing every three days and a lull can happen.
“Lokomotiv in the first half went slow, then fast, whereas we were just slow throughout. The good news is that we were sharp mentally, as without that, we wouldn’t have kept our heads to unpick the lock.”
After his star turn won three crucial Champions League points for Juve, Dybala spoke about his brace.
“I really needed these two goals. It was a good result for me and for the team, as we suffered, but have the necessary experience to keep calm and find a way through.
“We can work on it, the Coach has his ideas and we’ll work on them in training to improve together.
“We sent the usual signal, which is that this is not a Juventus side without experience or talent. We can have our say.”