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Sarri: Juventus played well, with character and determination

Manager’s comments after impressive away win in Derby d’Italia

FC Internazionale v Juventus - Serie A
Only one of these managers was smiling at the end of the game
Photo by Marco Luzzani - Inter/Inter via Getty Images

Juventus went into San Siro and reminded Antonio Conte and his Inter Milan side where exactly they sit in the pecking order, which is to put it quite bluntly, behind the Bianconeri.

The 2-1 win allows Juve to leapfrog Inter into first place, where they’ve been immovably for the last eight seasons. But manager Maurizio Sarri feels this is too early to make any predictions.

“Overtaking at the top means little right now. The most significant element is that we played well, with character and determination against a side that had won every game so far.

“We started well and had the right approach in a fiery atmosphere, so that’s a good sign.”

The winner came from a sequence of 24 quick passes, one of the hallmarks of Sarri-ball.

“A team with quality can do that. When the passing becomes fluid, a goal and scoring opportunities arrive as a direct consequence of that.

“I think this team has already made important steps forward in its passing. What we need to work on is dominating the match, having territorial supremacy, pressing better and more, taking away any attacking initiative from the opposition so that we can spend our whole time in the opposition half.

“This squad is accustomed to defending much deeper, but they are adapting and we’ve seen definite improvements in that sense.

“I feel we can still improve a great deal more. It’s a gradual process, the team has strong individuals and so much strength in depth. It means at the moment we can get results, even if we are not playing at 100 per cent.”

Sarri has been using a 4-3-1-2 lately at Juve, likely enforced with the lack of fit players out wide.

“Maybe people thought I was dumb… They just had to pay attention. I started with a system at Empoli, then changed it completely. I went to Napoli with one system and transformed it for three years.

“I went to Chelsea and played what looked similar, but was in fact a completely different interpretation of it. You have to adapt your tactics to the characteristics of the players.”

One of the most enduring questions that keeps coming up is playing Gonzalo Higuain, Paulo Dybala and Cristiano Ronaldo together.

“At that moment, we were dominating the game and it would’ve been unjust in my view not to win, so we tried that out for a little while.

“However, I got the sensation from the touchline that the momentum was turning the other way, so I changed again.”

Matthijs de Ligt conceded the penalty that led to Inter’s only goal, and wasn’t at his best today.

“De Ligt doesn’t speak Italian well yet, but he is adapting very quickly to our style of football, our type of defending and has enormous potential, but he is still adapting and that brings difficulties.

Giorgio Chiellini’s injury forced us to rush the introduction of this lad and a more gradual process would probably have helped him.”