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Pirlo hopeful of getting more players back soon

Coach’s comments after Juventus win over Spezia

Juventus v Spezia Calcio - Serie A Photo by Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images

For the first hour it looked like this game was the straw that would break the back of this Juventus team still hanging on for dear life to a Scudetto that seems like it’s on the verge of slipping away.

Andrea Pirlo has not had much respite from the substitute’s bench in recent games, and when he threw on Federico Bernardeschi and Alvaro Morata at the hour mark, he could not have expected what would have happened. Immediately the pair resuscitated a fading Juve by combining to score the opener, with Bernardeschi then popping up again on the left to find Federico Chiesa to score an instinctive second as well. By the time Cristiano Ronaldo sealed the three points with the third goal, Pirlo’s side were cruising again much like in the reverse fixture when the Bianconeri had won 4-1.

“A slow start was more physical fatigue than psychological, which can happen when you have so many games with the same players.

“We tried to control the game and then when the fresh legs came on, we were sharper and able to make the most of our chances.

“It was important to push forward from midfield and attack the spaces more. We aim to create one-on-one situations down the wings and then put the ball into the box, where we have players who can do damage. Sometimes it’s the wingers and sometimes the full-backs.”

Bernardeschi got a special mention from the coach for how he changed the game.

“Bernardeschi has what it takes to be a full-back, he has good stamina, can cross and has been working on this role, although obviously he needs to improve defensively.

“We have a great squad, unfortunately I haven’t been able to make as many changes as I wanted lately. We could do with more for squad rotation and to freshen things up with targeted changes during a game.”

Morata has not been well and is still fighting off a viral issue that saw him feeling faint recently.

“Morata is the player we wanted for his characteristics, as he can attack the space, score goals, but also play with the team. He has been missing lately unfortunately, but hopefully he can quickly get back to full fitness.”

Merih Demiral led the defence after Matthijs de Ligt was a late scratch from the squad.

“Hopefully, some others can start to come back over the next few days. We lost Matthijs De Ligt too, as he had this knock on his calf against Verona and felt it harden during the warm-up. It shouldn’t be anything serious, we’ll have more tests tomorrow.

“Weston McKennie is not at his best either, you can see the way he runs and his passes, that he is struggling with this pain. He can manage at most 45-60 minutes.”

No press conference nowadays can happen without the question to Pirlo about he felt Juve can catch Inter Milan in the Scudetto race.

“The gap is just the points that separate us. We know it will be a long chase, Inter have been playing together for two years, they have a well-drilled approach, whereas we just started this season. We still intend to be there right to the end.”