Juventus put in one of the flattest performances we have seen in months and somehow still came away from Russia with a win. A late Dejan Kulusevski header ensured the Bianconeri kept their 100% record in the Champions League group stages with a 1-0 win over Zenit St Petersburg.
Speaking after the game, coach Massimiliano Allegri was disappointed with the effort but satisfied with the result.
“It was important for the points, it wasn’t easy as Zenit clammed up in defence and we made a lot of errors in the final third. We slowed it down too much and allowed too many shots on goal with counter-attacks by losing the ball.
“We should’ve controlled it more once we went 1-0 up, too. It was not a great performance, but we got the result and that puts us in a very strong position.
“We needed to create width today and play between the lines. At times it went well, at others it didn’t.”
After such a poor showing, what should fans expect this weekend when they take on defending Scudetto champions Lazio?
“We got a good result with a bad performance, so the perfect combo to be fired up and play well this weekend.”
Kulusevski hasn’t featured too much for Juve, and Allegri said he still needed to grasp the fundamentals before becoming a regular.
“He is a Sweden international, but hasn’t played many Champions League games. He must learn how to control the game, when to speed up, when to slow down. He has the talent, he just needs to make better choices and he’s more than capable of that.”
The youngster was thrilled to get his debut goal in the competition.
“I will never forget this goal for as long as I live. It was my debut Champions League goal, the first I have scored this season and it was even a header!
“I saw the ball clip the upright on the way in, so I was afraid it was going to go out. It’s a very important victory for the team and important goal for me.
“I came on and tried to make the difference. It was a struggle at first, but I made sure I was in the right place at the right time.”
Meanwhile, captain Leonardo Bonucci was awarded the Man of the Match and spoke about the teamwork and effort afterwards, referencing the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo, who has now taken his savior exploits to Manchester United.
“It’s absolutely true, it is what we all said. In the recent past, we had lost that characteristic of Juve. We were all playing with a great champion and wanted him to do well, so perhaps we lost that desire to all suffer and sacrifice ourselves together, because we assumed he would sort it out.
“The coach has done really well to get that spirit and humility back and we all work together now to get the result.”