Juventus showed no signs of a Champions League exit hangover, at least not in the first half at Cagliari, as they romped to a 3-1 win on the back of a Cristiano Ronaldo hattrick. After the game, Pele sent a congratulatory message to acknowledge the forward’s 770th official goal had broken his record, thereby validating CR7 stans worldwide that indeed he was the greatest of all time.
Speaking to the media after the game, coach Andrea Pirlo was asked about his side’s response considering the humiliation heaped upon them after losing over two legs to FC Porto.
“It was the right approach, which we needed after failing to qualify the other day, and we started on the right foot.”
Pirlo’s tactics continue to befuddle watchers who insist that it be given a label as it’s a fluid switch often from 3-5-2 or a 4-4-2.
“Danilo is an intelligent player who can have his say in any role. We are trying him here at the moment because we know he can make an impact there.
“We had three in defence in possession, with Juan Cuadrado pushing up and Dejan Kulusevski coming more inside. We defend with four, but then play out from the back with three.
“The idea was to leave gaps for Cuadrado to push up, bringing Kulusevski more central. Kulusevski can be more in midfield in future, we had to use him as a second striker to make up for absences.
“Naturally, once we have two genuine strikers upfront, our game works better.”
Ronaldo was booked minutes after notching his first goal for a high boot that caught goalie Alessio Cragno in the chin and needing medical attention. Should he have been sent off instead?
“I think it was a classic situation during play, both of them were looking at the ball and didn’t realise how close they were.”
The forward seemed visibly motivated during the game and rushed to the cameras pointing to his ear after scoring his third, blasted past Cragno.
“He was angry the same way everyone was after the missed qualification, but he did his talking on the pitch with three goals and that’s all that matters.
“All we can do is focus on our own results, getting as many points as possible, winning as many games as possible and then at the end seeing where we are.”
Club captain Giorgio Chiellini addressed criticism aimed at the senior players in the squad for not speaking to the media after Tuesday’s Champions League exit.
“We spoke within the dressing room. This isn’t the moment to be talking too much, our strength has always been giving our response on the pitch.
“I think if we maintain that unity, we’ll do well. Now we have the whole week to prepare and also the break for international duty gives us a chance to get some players back.
“We try to take the positives from every situation, we have more time to analyse how we can improve.”