Juventus bounced back from their Coppa Italia disappointment last week, cruising to a 2-0 win away at Bologna and moving four points clear of Lazio at the top of the table, with the Roman side having a game in hand.
Speaking after the game, a relieved Maurizio Sarri spoke to Sky Sport Italia (via Football Italia) -
“We were sharper physically tonight, as we kept up the tempo and intensity for 70 minutes, whereas in the Coppa we fell away after 20-30 minutes.”
Federico Bernardeschi has come in for criticism for his recent performances, but laid on an assist on Paulo Dybala’s goal, and came close to scoring himself with his shot palmed onto the post.
“Fede had done well in his last two substitute appearances, so he gave the impression that he was in good shape. He did well defensively as well as attacking, so I’m pleased for him. He is a lad who is often over-criticised and under-valued.”
Juve continued to create chances after taking the two-goal lead though they appeared to take a more defensive stance, which Sarri blamed on tired legs.
“We had many chances to kill off the game at 3-0, but our energy ran out towards the end and we had to sit a little deeper. It’s not a philosophical or tactical decision, it’s physiological when the fuel runs low.”
Fans and critics alike have panned Sarri for his reliance on the stars in the Juve squad to make the difference.
“Having top level individual players means they can resolve the game for you at times, but we need to put the whole team in a situation where they can give their best, but also that we can continue working when the star names are either absent or off form. It’s inevitable they will have some days when they’re not as sharp, we need other options.”
De Ligt was solid defensively though he had a shaky moment early on with an odd lobbed pass back to Wojciech Szczezny, and even won the penalty that led to Cristiano Ronaldo’s opener.
“Matthijs has become more accustomed to our style of Italian football. He came from Holland, where they didn’t spend much time analysing defending, but he has adapted much faster to Serie A than many other foreign players who came here at his age.
“He’s destined for greatness and will certainly become one of the best defenders in Europe.”
Leonardo Bonucci revealed after the win that the players had previously held a closed-doors meeting to air their grievances, a move commended by Sarri.
“In football and in life there are opinions and there are facts. If you listened to the opinions, you’d think this team was falling to pieces. If you look at the facts, we’re top of the table.
“The criticism was excessive and that can act as motivation for us to get back in shape mentally even more than physically, which might take a little longer.”