Juventus beat Parma 1-0 to start off their title defence on the right note. The Bianconeri got a winner from captain Giorgio Chiellini, with Cristiano Ronaldo in sparkling form and getting a goal chalked off for offside by a hair’s breadth.
New Juve manager Maurizio Sarri is out for a month with pneumonia, but his assistant Giovanni Martusciello stepped in to lead the side, while actively communicating with Sarri during the game.
“I heard from Sarri at half-time and then at the final whistle, so he was happier at the end, but being an eternal perfectionist, he was still quite angry!
“Sarri has improved since I last worked with him. He smokes less, for a start, and that is definitely an improvement! He also is more hands-on with the players and training, whereas before he would often delegate to his staff.
“He can get distracted by other issues off the field, but I saw him more focused on the important things.”
The coaching staff had a couple of surprises up their sleeves, picking Gonzalo Higuain to start ahead of Paulo Dybala, and with no summer signings at all in the starting lineup.
“This is a team full of champions. Choices must be made and today we opted for the more experienced players, but it’s a long season with many tournaments and we’ll need everyone.
“I think the choice was made because Higuain has more experience in that centre-forward role. Taking a gamble in the first game of the season would’ve been unnecessary, while Pipita had also been doing very well in training over the last few days.
“Right now, Higuain is on the same level as Dybala, they are interchangeable and it depends on how various players and their characteristics combine.
“Parma are difficult to beat here, as shown by the last 10 Juventus visits, which were always tight and hard-fought. The important thing was to win and we did that.”
On the game itself, Martusciello was satisfied with the performance from Juve.
“Above all, we did well to avoid the situations on the counter-attack where Parma are very strong. There was a dip in intensity after the break and that made it a more even game.
“The first match of the season always has question marks and we could’ve done better with the first half chances, but overall that is fine.”