Speaking after the game, manager Massimiliano Allegri commended his side for overcoming the challenge.
“Sassuolo pass the ball around through the midfield a lot and have more possession in those areas than any other Serie A team.
“We started with a misplaced pass and Szczesny made an extraordinary save, which could’ve easily been a penalty. We started playing eventually and put Federico Bernardeschi on Stefano Sensi to cut off their passing channels.”
Somewhat controversially, Paulo Dybala started on the bench and only played the last few minutes. There has been an ongoing row among the fanbase about whether he and Cristiano Ronaldo can play together or not.
“I compliment the team for a clean sheet, which is very important. We’re in good shape. Ronaldo and Dybala can certainly play together and they will do, but we need everyone to work hard in order to keep the team balanced.
“It all depends on who you are playing against. If the opponents are really clammed up, you need to pass around them. If they leave gaps, you pass between the lines. Sassuolo have a strong midfield, so I had to balance my team that way today.”
When asked about the players he chose to bench, Allegri explained -
“Players are disappointed, but every now and then sitting on the bench is necessary to recharge the batteries and rediscover the right mental toughness.
“Different players have different characteristics. Dybala is playing the same role as he did last year and the year before. It’s just having Ronaldo, who is more of a striker, we need someone to find the space. We still need bodies in the box. I got angry in Bergamo because we kept giving the ball to poor Blaise Matuidi, who was the only one following the moves.
“You can play Dybala and Ronaldo, it just depends on the situations. Ronaldo played with Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale, so it’s not like they’re insane at Real Madrid.
“Everyone needs the right partner. Mario Mandzukic is very helpful for Dybala and for Ronaldo. Miralem Pjanic needs a Matuidi who does the running for him.”