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Allegri: January will be an intense month

Coach’s comments after Juventus close out 2021 on a positive note but not without a scare, of course

Juventus v Cagliari Calcio - Serie A Photo by Jonathan Moscrop/Getty Images

Juventus endured some nervous moments like they often have in 2021 but eventually did enough to put away a Cagliari side fighting for survival to end the year with a 2-0 win. Both goals were well-taken, with Moise Kean opening the scoring thanks to a heads-up play after a Federico Bernardeschi shot ricocheted to him, and then Berna finally got the goal he has so richly deserved for so long.

Speaking after the game, coach Massimiliano Allegri talked about the tactical shift of moving Alvaro Morata to wide left and Moise Kean in the middle.

“Morata was getting irritable, he wasn’t attacking the space or moving, so I preferred to move Kean into a centre-forward role. Morata then relaxed, had a bit more space when starting from wide and it worked well.”

The Bianconeri are still not getting enough goals from the midfielders, and Allegri had some choice words to say about Adrien Rabiot.

“I think Adrien can really do damage with his shot from distance, but perhaps it’s because he plays internationally for France in a two-man midfield, he just doesn’t make the right movements or has the right timing to get the shot away.

“He didn’t read the game well at all today and we have to do a great deal of work with him. I asked the lads to try shooting from distance today and Bernardeschi had a couple before finding the net.”

Fourth place is now four points away at the midpoint of the season despite the horrendous start to this campaign. However, next month sees league games against Napoli, AS Roma and AC Milan, with a SuperCoppa clash against Napoli as well.

“We went on a good run after the first three games. We know January will be an intense month. I would be happy to reach the end of February with this gap so we can challenge for the top four. I would be very pleased with that situation.

“We have a lot of head-to-head clashes in January and February, so after that our fixture list could become simpler, while the others all face each other. We had 11 points in head-to-head clashes, but where we’re missing points is in the other fixtures.”

What did Allegri think about CEO Maurizio Arrivabene’s comments referring to Paulo Dybala and Matthijs de Ligt that it appeared players were more loyal to their agents than the clubs they played for.

“I have nothing to say. De Ligt had a very good game today, Leonardo Bonucci is transmitting the Juventus values to him. Paulo Dybala is a great player, we’re waiting for him to get to full fitness.

“The important thing will be having everyone in good shape for January and February.”

Cagliari created two excellent chances with the score still at 1-0 in favour of Juve, with Dalbert inexplicably placing the ball wide when it was easier to score, and then Wojciech Szczesny parrying away a Joao Pedro header from close range.

The goalkeeper was asked how Juve have improved defensively, tightening things up in recent games and only conceding two goals since November.

“We worked hard, but I think there’s a lot we need to improve still, both in defence and upfront.

“Sometimes at 1-0 we relax and sit a bit too deep, but that’s not good in the long run, we play arrogantly in those situations and I don’t like it.

“It happened many times, including in Venezia when we conceded. We sit too deep in the second half, we can’t keep lowering the level of intensity for 10-15 minutes every time. It went alright today, but we dropped two points against Venezia, so we can’t keep doing that.”