Juventus stuttered again facing a weaker opponent, and despite holding a numerical advantage for most of the second half, required a penalty in time added on to seal the three points in a 2-1 win over Genoa.
The Bianconeri return to the top of the table after Inter Milan had edged ahead playing yesterday. Speaking after the closely-contested game, Maurizio Sarri felt the victory was deserved.
“Our first half was at a slow tempo and we seemed a little uncertain, allowing Genoa to close up the spaces too easily.
“Genoa pass the ball very well and they do not play like a team near the foot of the table. We ran into difficulties, as we raised the tempo after the break, but made too many mistakes.
“The victory only arrived at the end, but I feel it came as a consequence of all the work we’d done and the chances we’d produced before.
“At the moment, we are not converting enough of our scoring opportunities and we are conceding some really avoidable goals.”
With Miralem Pjanic and Gonzalo Higuain out injured, Juve had to make some adjustments but Sarri felt the striker was more sorely missed in this one.
“Genoa had their trequartista pressing Rodrigo Bentancur, so it was difficult to play out from the back. We did well at times, but others we were too slow.
“Higuain is the only striker available who has the characteristics of a real centre-forward, the others are more atypical. Despite dominating possession, we always risk not having enough presence in the box without Gonzalo.”
Federico Bernardeschi continues to struggle while Sarri awaits Aaron Ramsey’s return to full fitness, but the manager is not ready to go to 4-3-3 yet despite Douglas Costa coming through unscathed in his return from injury.
“In terms of characteristics, I think this team is suited to playing with a man behind the strikers, rather than three upfront. This is a system that rather penalised Paulo Dybala and Cristiano Ronaldo.
“Douglas Costa has played as a trequartista too, especially at Shakhtar Donetsk. He’s only been back for two days, so we didn’t have time to test him in that role.
“This is a squad that won eight consecutive Serie A titles, so I think they might be lacking a bit of determination, both going forward and defending.”