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Pirlo: Juventus have a squad full of champions

Coach’s quotes after important first leg away victory in Coppa Italia semifinal

FC Internazionale v Juventus - Coppa Italia Photo by Daniele Badolato - Juventus FC/Juventus FC via Getty Images

Juventus took advantage of the opportunities they created, as well as those Antonio Conte’s muddled Inter Milan side handed the Bianconeri to win 2-1 in the first leg of the Coppa Italia semifinal fixture at the San Siro.

The hosts had taken the early lead through a series of errors by Juve with Lautaro Martinez’s snapshot getting past Gigi Buffon, but then the visitors hit right back with a brace from Cristiano Ronaldo, the first coming from a foolishly-conceded spotkick and the second taking advantage of a comical blunder from Conte’s posse of clowns.

Speaking after the game Pirlo referenced the earlier loss at this very stadium to Inter.

“We weren’t ourselves against Inter in the league, that was a slip-up, but it was also a valuable lesson and we worked on the mistakes that were made in that game.

“This is just the first leg, we haven’t achieved anything yet. What this does prove is that if we are fully concentrated, it becomes difficult for anyone against us. We know our strength.

“It’s not easy to maintain this intensity when playing practically every day. I saw a great reaction after going behind.”

Pirlo’s starting lineup had a number of changes, with youngsters Matthijs de Ligt and Merih Demiral anchoring the backline. Ronaldo was taken off late in the game when he already had a brace, and appeared to be displeased at the decision.

“Whether Bonucci or Demiral plays, it ought to make no difference.

“I understand that Ronaldo wasn’t happy at being substituted, but it was only right to rest him for the upcoming Serie A game, even if just a few minutes. He could not have answered his critics in a better way than he did tonight.

“We have a squad full of champions and must make the most of that.”

After the league loss against Inter, Juve really have seemed to have turned a corner with the Supercoppa Italia win against Napoli, and the coach agreed that this is a different side since then.

“That was a fundamental match, as it lit our fire again and lifting that trophy made us realise we are strong and can compete for every objective.

“We’ll be playing every three days, there are some big clashes in February. We’ll take it one game at a time and then see where we are at the end of the season.”

FC Internazionale v Juventus - Coppa Italia Photo by Alessandro Sabattini/Getty Images

In his own comments after the game, Inter boss Conte insisted that he had the better side despite the mistakes that handed Juve the goals needed to win.

“Basically, we did everything ourselves. Juventus made the most of two naïve errors to score their goals. We need to be more clinical and ruthless, as we created so much and you have to finish those chances against a side like Juventus.

“The performance was excellent, it was just the result that was negative. We had Juve on the ropes, it’s really disappointing, because we deserved much, much, much more than the final result.

“Juventus barely created anything and I don’t remember Samir Handanovic making saves. If we hadn’t made those two mistakes…

“I respect all judgment, but the fact is if we had won this game 2-0, nobody would’ve complained. The final result is what clouds the judgment of the overall performance.”