Juventus huffed and puffed all game long but struggled to get past a solid Ferencvaros rearguard effort until substitute Alvaro Morata grabbed the winner in time added on. While the 2-1 win was deserved for the hosts, the visitors came very close to preventing the Bianconeri from sealing qualification to the Champions League knockout rounds with a brave showing.
Speaking after the game, coach Andrea Pirlo summarized what he saw from the performance.
“We had intended to start with a different attitude, but we know there can be difficulties in games that seem on paper to be simple. We were too superficial at the start and had to chase the game.
“Our first press wasn’t vehement, which is normal after so many matches to lose a little intensity, but the important thing was not to get stretched out and allow counter-attacks. We did it a few times in the first half, but then managed to settle down.
“I expected more from the players, but Ferencvaros clammed up, we had to try to move the ball back and forth more quickly to spread them. We moved it too slowly, which made it easier for them to defend.
“Ferencvaros keep a high line and invite you to attack them, but if you don’t do it at the right moment, it plays into their hands. When we got the timing right, we were almost always dangerous.”
With Matthijs de Ligt the only fit central defender, Pirlo was relieved to see him come back from his shoulder ailment in time for this game.
“We knew De Ligt was already a captain at the age of 20, so we’d been waiting for his return and knew he’d give us a great deal both in defending and in keeping the team tight by passing out from the back.”
Midfielder Arthur, a summer addition in the swap deal with Barcelona for Miralem Pjanic, was roundly criticized for his conservative play and inability to unlock the opposition, a view that Pirlo agreed with.
“He got a bit pig-headed today keeping hold of the ball and trying to find more direct through balls when he should’ve spread it wide and tried to spread the Ferencvaros defence.
“He should’ve opened up the game more to create one-on-one situations. If the ball moved too slowly, it allowed them to get back into position.”
“Not much right now, but he’s learning!”
Paulo Dybala finally got a start but wasn’t able to stake a claim for a spot in Pirlo’s starting XI going forward.
“Dybala didn’t do that well, but as I said, he was injured and had to take antibiotics for weeks, so it’s natural he needs time to get back into shape. He does need to go beyond his limits in training to rediscover his form.”