Like the unravelling of a carefully woven tapestry, Juventus’ season has gone from difficult to bad to worse in just a matter of weeks, with the Bianconeri not even sitting in a Champions League spot in the table with just three games to go, and future sanctions from Serie A and UEFA also on the horizon thanks to the club’s ill-fated obstinacy regarding the doomed European Super League.
The disastrous 3-0 defeat against AC Milan over the weekend now means that Juve will likely have to win all three of their remaining games (at Sassuolo, against champions Inter Milan and at Bologna) while still hoping one of Atalanta, Milan or Napoli drop some points on the way.
Speaking during his pre-match press conference coach Andrea Pirlo insisted his squad are still motivated despite not showing it against the Rossoneri.
“I don’t want to see resignation tomorrow, we are a point behind the Champions League places and we have three games left.
“Football teaches that anything can happen, so we need great positivity.”
Pirlo is asked every week about Cristiano Ronaldo’s future and every time he has skirted the question, choosing to talk about the team as a whole instead.
“Cristiano played many games this year and scored a lot.
“Today, we will decide what to do. Tomorrow is a delicate match and I hope to have everyone available. Our target is to prove that we deserve the Champions League, and we can only do it with the results.”
What has he done to improve morale within his squad?
“We were disappointed after the defeat to Milan, but our target doesn’t change. We have a duty to believe in it.
“Grit is a word that is often used in football, but it’s not enough to win. I have always asked to have the burning fire inside, and it has often happened.”
The coach has faced criticism for constantly tinkering with his side, but Pirlo asserted that a lot of it was outside his control with COVID and injuries ravaging his squad.
“In recent months, the lineup has often changed. But it’s due to many reasons, including injuries and COVID.
“We have accepted all circumstances. I don’t have any fear, I only think about the good of Juventus, which comes first of all, ahead of players and coaches.”
Pirlo provided some insights into his starting lineup, but didn’t reveal too much, and added he wanted to see a response in his squad no matter who played.
“Both Danilo and Arthur Melo are fine, tomorrow they could start.
“We conceded many goals due to collective neglect. A collective pride test is needed tomorrow, regardless of who will play. We have to honour this jersey, we can’t afford performances like the one on Sunday.
“There’s a lot of energy in me and us. We are angry. We have a duty to believe in it, because we are Juventus, and we cannot resign ourselves to this position.
“My duty is to make the players I have available perform at their best, based on their characteristics.”