Juventus easily dispatched Sampdoria 3-0 to start off the 2020-21 season and the Andrea Pirlo era on the right foot. Goals from debutant Dejan Kulusevski, Leonardo Bonucci and Cristiano Ronaldo settled the points for the new-look Bianconeri side, and after the game coach Pirlo talked about what he was doing differently since taking over from Maurizio Sarri over the summer.
“It’s important to dialogue with players, as I was a player until a few years ago and I always liked to discuss with them. It’s important everyone knows what they want and think.”
Kulusevski was not the only first-timer, with summer signing Weston McKennie also getting the start and youth product Gianluca Frabotta making his second Serie A appearance.
“It was a good first half, a pity we didn’t score more than one goal. Our fitness levels dropped towards the end, but we stayed sharp and controlled all the situations, including the Sampdoria counter-attacks.
“Frabotta had a good game. Alex Sandro picked up an injury, so I chose the Under-23 lad who is training with us very well. I didn’t consider it a risk at all to use him.
“The American arrived having started pre-season training in Germany, so was in better shape than some others. He made a few errors in his passing, but it was the first game, we can forgive him for that.”
While this was a good start, there is of course still room for improvement for this Juventus side with tougher opposition coming up.
“It will take time to get all the various ways of playing together. I don’t want to just copy and paste anyone’s ideas, I have my own ideas, and want to adapt from the teams that inspired me.
“We haven’t had much time, as the pre-season started late and then they were away for international duty. We had only one friendly too, but it was a good debut and we’ll keep working on it.”
Pirlo has started off with a three-man backline that is very flexible depending on whether his side is in possession of the ball or defending.
“We have four central midfielders who in my view play better in a two-man midfield. We are therefore trying to use that system, defending with four defenders, then in attack we’re more of a three plus two.”
Ronaldo has often clashed with management when about being rested for games, so how will Pirlo handle that situation when it comes up?
“We are thinking about it and talked it over. He’s not tired yet, as we just started, but when we come up to less important games, we’ll try to give him a rest. He’s a very intelligent lad who knows his body very well, so he is aware of when it’s time to rest or to step it up.”
Pirlo has indicated that Juventus will be looking to sign a striker and already have Paulo Dybala on the squad as well, how will he work out having all this talent at his disposal?
“We’ll give it our best. It’s about finding the right balance. Quality players are always welcome, as long as they have the characteristics to bring balance to the team, but we want to use as much talent as possible.”