Juventus’ chances of lifting the Scudetto for the tenth consecutive time are now hovering in the slim-to-none range after a depleted Bianconeri squad were held to a 1-1 draw away at Hellas Verona, further heaping pressure on an embattled Andrea Pirlo.
Speaking after the game, the coach was despondent with his younger player’s lack of composure on the pitch.
“It’s disappointing, as we knew it would be a difficult and hard-fought game. We managed to take the lead, which was the most difficult part, then didn’t keep hold of it.
“There are these small details that unfortunately young players don’t understand can make the difference and lead to points.
“When you are in front, you must try to bring these games home. We were missing a lot of experienced players, so the younger elements didn’t understand the way the match was going. I asked Cristiano Ronaldo and Alex Sandro to speak to them and make their voices heard, but it wasn’t enough.”
Pirlo ended up having to use Alex Sandro as a centre back in the three-man backline with Danilo out suspended and both Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci out injured.
“I thought about moving to four at the back, but I looked to the bench and didn’t really have the options to change. I saw some players who were starting to get tired after the hour mark, but that was to be expected.
“We planned a 3-4-2-1 with Aaron Ramsey and Dejan Kulusevski behind Ronaldo, so we’d press their centre-backs and support Ronaldo.”
Juventus have looked fatigued for some time now, and without having competent backups on the bench, they looked gassed as the game wore on.
“In the second half, we no longer had the energy to keep pressing them and the spaces opened up for Verona. We know the intensity of Verona forces you to use up a lot of energy, and we are playing many games in quick succession, there aren’t enough players, so fatigue is going to be an issue.
“Hellas press you all over the pitch, so you have to think quickly before the ball reaches you to check where your teammates are and can make the pass before they close you down.
“We had the chances to extend our lead, it’s just a pity we didn’t hold on to that advantage. We don’t have strikers who can just hold up the ball, so we need to play out from the back. It was tough today, as Verona pressed high, and the pitch wasn’t in the best condition either.”
The 36-year-old Ronaldo grabbed his 26th strike of the season in all competitions, but one goal wasn’t going to be enough today as Hellas ramped up the pressure late on.
“We’re in an emergency situation, but try to work well with what we have. It’s not just us who miss players like Paulo Dybala and Alvaro Morata, but any team would miss them.”