Despite a solid first half Juventus fell away late in the game to hand hosts Atlético Madrid the initiative in this Champions League Round of 16 tie. Manager Massimiliano Allegri was left ruing a poor overall performance that leaves his side needing at least two and possibly more goals to continue their interest in this year’s competition.
“The second half was ugly, as we made the mistake of following their lead. Atleti are very good at letting a game go by without a shot on goal.
“We had already run a risk on a counter from a ball we gave away, but we didn’t have a shot on target in the second half. Atleti came out much more aggressively on set plays and caught us by surprise.
“Now we have the chance to turn this around, we must have faith, we’ll have some players back and there’s no point crying over spilt milk. We knew it was going to be tough, that Atletico Madrid force you to play badly, with a slow tempo. We moved the ball quicker in the first half, but not in the second.
“We got the approach wrong in the second half. It’s that simple. These things can happen, there will be great disappointment after this 2-0, but we can turn it around. It won’t be easy, we need a great second leg, but it can be done and we must have faith.”
Former players Alessandro Del Piero and Fabio Capello both said Atleti played with more heart and determination befitting the Champions League that the Bianconeri could not match.
“You have to move the ball quickly and precisely against Atleti to open up the spaces. We didn’t do that as much in the second half and after the second goal we lost our organisation, risking a third goal, that is not acceptable.
“Fortunately we didn’t concede a third, because 2-0 is a result that can be easily turned around. We’re not dead yet, we weren’t dead after losing 2-0 at home to Real Madrid, let alone now we’ve got the second leg at home.
“It’s important to maintain the focus, organisation and keep our heads, because everything can be overturned.”
The two goals both came from setpieces that were not defended well at the first time of asking, and neither were the rebounds.
“We got accustomed to their bland tempo and at the same time didn’t defend well, so at those moments they suddenly changed gear and became more determined than us. They’ve been doing this for eight years, it’s not new.
“Atleti do this all the time, they make you play in bland fashion. We didn’t concede on moves, because Atletico don’t really score those goals. They score on the counter and on set plays. The difference was that they are accustomed to this type of game and we are not.”
With how well Atleti defended how was he expecting to score twice at home?
“I don’t know what I’ll do for the second leg, as I don’t know what men I’ll have available. You can’t catch Atletico Madrid out in the open, because they never play like that, they defend in blocks. You need patience, to move the ball around quickly and precisely to force the openings.”