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Martusciello defends Juve effort despite second-half hiccup against Napoli

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Assistant manager’s comments after seven-goal thriller

Juventus v SSC Napoli - Serie A Photo by Giuseppe Cottini/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Juventus managed to fall asleep on a 3-0 in the second half of the big clash against Napoli at home, but then were fortunate to still get the three points late on with the visitors conceding an own goal in time added on.

Speaking after the game, Maurizio Sarri’s assistant Giovanni Martusciello commented on the loss of concentration -

“We saw a physical dip after the hour mark and it was tough against a side like Napoli who pass it so well, but we also got distracted and should’ve made more of the situation when 3-0 up.

“You can concede goals, but not three in 16 minutes. Perhaps we felt sated by going 3-0 up and allowed Napoli to bite back.

“When there are errors of positioning and then reaction, you’re going to concede goals against players of this quality. I want to focus on the very positive performance in the first hour, but some fear set in after they got back into it.”

It was not all bleak though, and he was encouraged by the players’ spirits reawakening after the game was tied.

“I’ve been here for around a month and even in the pre-season friendlies I was amazed by the way this squad does not give up. They gave their all and kept going to achieve something from the game and it is a remarkable trait.”

Fans saw a different Juve especially in the first half and that is a change from past regimes.

“This team was built to defend deep and go on the counter, or at most keep possession inside our own half, which is very different to how we tend to play. It’s difficult to make that shift in a month, we worked on some characteristics of players and were pleasantly surprised – above all by Miralem Pjanic – that they were able to do what we asked.

“We are working a lot on playing out from the back, fortunately we have a lot of quality in the squad, but just need to adjust the passing lines and movements that they were not accustomed to. We need more belief and to keep going in that direction.”

It as a nervy Serie A debut for youngster Matthijs de Ligt who seemed to be having a tough time keeping his composure under pressure, but Martusciello defended the player.

“De Ligt is still a little bit behind in terms of learning the movements and being part of the defensive unit. He has arrived in a difficult league like Serie A from a very different team, but he has a great deal of quality, is very intelligent and will learn quickly. He had a very good hour too, so he’s getting there.

“We had hoped for more time to get him settled, but unfortunately Giorgio Chiellini had that serious injury and changed the plans.”