Juventus struggled to a 1-1 draw away at AC Milan in the first leg of their Coppa Italia semi-final, and can consider themselves lucky to return home without having lost the game. The Rossoneri have appeared to be a rejuvenated side in recent weeks, and put in a busy and energetic performance, if overzealous at times. Juve meanwhile have gone flat like last night’s champagne left out uncorked and with no answers on how to spark things abck to life.
Speaking after the game, manager Maurizio Sarri attempted to save face.
“We did better in terms of our passing and playing out from the back, but were somewhat lacking in the final third. It’s a process and we are continuing.
“We conceded some avoidable goals, for example today the cross was quite slow and in my view easy to defend. We were coming off a bad performance in Verona, but picked up a positive result, especially as it’s the first leg.
“At times we are too sluggish and shouldn’t have allowed Ibrahimovic into the box. Even if he didn’t touch the cross in the end, his presence was fundamental in stretching the defence. We weren’t aggressive enough in our defending.”
The Bianconeri have struggled in their last few away games, and the manager was asked about his side’s woes.
“I am not worried, as the only real worries in life are your health. It seems a normal phase to be going through, it’s unthinkable for a team to be a continual ascent. This is a sport, so much depends on the physical and psychological conditions of so many players.
“Our growth has stalled a little in the last three weeks, we concede avoidable goals. Having said that, we’ve conceded only two more than the best defence in Serie A, so it’s not that much of an issue.”
Sarri trotted out an interesting lineup for this clash, pushing Juan Cuadrado further upfield.
“Miralem Pjanic had a good game, so did Aaron Ramsey for some time, but he then fell away in the second half. Cristiano Ronaldo was left too isolated from his teammates to be decisive this evening, but I did not see the midfielders moving it slowly at all.”
“We were in fantastic shape 15 days ago, less so now, but might be great again in 15 days. It’s difficult to tell in football, but I saw some positive signs from this evening.”
Club captain Giorgio Chiellini has resumed training after a knee injury in the summer, would he be returning to the squad soon?
“When talking about certain players, it’s evident they would be missed by any team in the world. These are top players and their absence is felt.
“Giorgio brings character and energy to the defence. I don’t know precisely how long the recovery process will take. He played 50 minutes today against one of the youth teams, he said he felt good, so we’ll try to organise something a bit more testing next week and then decide.”