Juventus took care of business last night, shutting down Inter Milan’s vaunted attack in a 0-0 draw and eliminating Antonio Conte’s side at the semifinal stage of the Coppa Italia 2-1 on aggregate.
It was a game where the defence stood on it’s head and reminded fans of the days when Giorgio Chiellini, Leonardo Bonucci and Andrea Barzagli marshalled the backline, even as the sage old man Gianluigi Buffon pervaded a sense of calm from between the sticks. The Bianconeri expended just as much effort was needed to settle the fixture after having nearly settled the tie seven days ago at San Siro.
Speaking after the game, coach Andrea Pirlo insisted that reaching the Final was all part of his objectives for the season.
“I hoped so, as a debutant it was my plan to win a Supercoppa, to reach the Final of the Coppa Italia and the last 16 of the Champions League.
“As a player it was easier, it ended after the game. As a coach, you have to think about the next game immediately, you have to think for 30 different heads.
“But we haven’t achieved anything yet, now we’ll rest and prepare for Saturday’s match.”
What did he have to say about youngsters Matthijs de Ligt and Merih Demiral who pitched the shutout?
“I have always said that I’m lucky to have four very good centre-backs. They are adapting to our way of defending and are improving.
“Not only Giorgio’s [Chiellini] return, the others are doing very well and I’m happy about this.”
Juve’s resolute defending harks back to the days of when Massimiliano Allegri patrolled the touchline, and Pirlo was asked about comparisons to Juve’s former Mister.
“It’s nice to hear. If I have to win what he won, you can also call me Allegriano.
“Every match is different and we prepare in a different way. Inter have almost no shots on goal and we had opportunities, we are very satisfied.
“Since the beginning of the season we have been defending with 4-4-2 but we play in a totally different way. Based on how our opponents come to press us, we decide on how to break out, it’s only the defence that remains in the 4-4-2.”
Is there room in the lineup for Cristiano Ronaldo, Alvaro Morata and Paulo Dybala?
“I hope to have them available, from the start I haven’t had them available at the same time.
“Morata had a fever, Dybala still struggles with knee problems. When we have all three at our disposal, we hope to find a solution because it would increase our quality.”
Il gestaccio di #Conte all’intervallo pic.twitter.com/KPPeDtLTx3— Romeo Agresti (@romeoagresti) February 9, 2021
Meanwhile, it appeared after the game that Conte had flipped off Juventus President Andrea Agnelli when walking off to the dressing rooms at halftime at the Allianz Stadium, provoking Agnelli, who was Conte’s former boss at Juve, into shouting abuses at the Inter boss at the final whistle.
Eccoloo #JuventusInter #agnelli #coppaitalia https://t.co/h4T6fYKpEB pic.twitter.com/lDKyxDrYAp— Francesca Iannibelli (@Fra_Iannibelli) February 9, 2021
Ironically, Conte decided to forget his own behavior, instead choosing to pontificate about how Juventus needed to treat him better.
“Juventus should tell the truth. I think the fourth official heard and saw what happened throughout the match.
“They should be more polite in my opinion. They need more sportsmanship and respect for those who work.”
This latest setback only adds to Conte’s frustrations as he continues to rage against the... everything really, the league, the referees, the players, the owners of whatever club he manages, seemingly everything under the sky but himself.