Juventus beat Sassuolo 3-1 in an entertaining game to gain ground on Inter Milan and AS Roma who fought to a 2-2 draw earlier, but the win came at some cost with both Weston McKennie and Paulo Dybala leaving the game injured in the first half.
Speaking after the victory, coach Andrea Pirlo provided an update on the players’ condition.
“Dybala had a knock to the collateral ligament on the inside of his knee. We’ll evaluate it over the next few days and hope it’s nothing serious.
“McKennie already had a slight muscular problem yesterday and he felt it again after the back-heel flick, so he stopped.”
The visitors were the better side for long periods of this game, but the straight red card shown to Pedro Obiang just before the break greatly helped the Bianconeri.
“It was important for us to give a sense of consistency by winning this evening, otherwise the win at Milan on Wednesday wouldn’t mean anything.
“We were a little sluggish at times this evening, but we became a little less organised and more determined, so we showed the hunger required to win the game.”
Sassuolo, despite being a man down, showed great initiative and grabbed an equaliser in soon after Danilo had given the hosts the lead.
“Our midfielders were too passive and the two defenders weren’t positioned properly against the striker. He was given too much space, so even though it was a good Defrel first touch, we made mistakes both in midfield and defence.”
After beating AC Milan away last week, Juventus return to San Siro next weekend this time to take on former manager Antonio Conte’s Inter.
“These games are fascinating to play for everyone, they inevitably raise the concentration levels and the tension too. We have champions accustomed to this type of big match, so we’ll prepare after the Coppa Italia midweek.
“We are Juventus and therefore have the pressure on us to win every game. We have to face every match as if it’s a final, then we’ll see where we are closer to the end of the season.”
Juve now have four wins in their last five league games, and Pirlo has put the improved performances down to the players.
“I think it’s above all in self-esteem, but also getting the movements down, as we find the movements more natural now.
“The win over Torino was a turning point, I feel, because it proved that if we don’t play every game with the right concentration and determination, we will struggle.
“It has to be in the Juventus DNA, the determination and desire to push until the last minute. We can improve our quality, we can play better or worse, but the determination is an element that must never be lacking.”