On a day when all their rivals for Champions League spots romped to big wins, Juventus did not cede any ground either and ensured that with two games left to play they could still have a chance of breaking back into the top four.
Speaking after the game, a relieved Andrea Pirlo spoke about the tactical changes he had to implement to beat a free-spirited Sassuolo side who worried the Bianconeri for long periods of this game.
“We can have a breather now and then dive headfirst into the next two games.
“It wasn’t easy to get back on track after that defeat and especially against Sassuolo. We prepared it so we’d sit back, wait for Sassuolo with some very tight lines to stop them finding those spaces, then the plan was to win it back and go rapidly on the counter. Sassuolo push so many men forward, they leave gaps at the back.
“I used two very quick wing-backs like Federico Chiesa and Dejan Kulusevski to attack the space and we did it well. Champions in football are the ones who make the difference, and we have many of them, so tonight they made a big impact. It wasn’t easy for us to lift our heads up, but we did, we are here, we are alive and kicking and will fight to the end.”
Juventus are going to have to win both games and hope for one or more of the trio of AC Milan, Atalanta and Napoli to slip up.
“We are aware that our destiny is no longer in our hands, but there’s no point looking back over regrets now. There were many moments during the season when we lowered our guard and weren’t 100 per cent concentrated, perhaps thinking that just wearing the Juve jersey was enough to guarantee a victory. Unfortunately, that is not the case.
“In modern football, you have to face every team with the same mentality, hunger and desire, because otherwise you won’t get far. We’ve got to get it into our heads that we must suffer, have discipline and cohesion between all the players. The rest will follow.
“Too often we have made mistakes and made life difficult for ourselves with individual errors, so we need the utmost concentration in every minute and every second. On the penalty today, we gave it away so cheaply in the final third and it’s not the first time we’ve done that.”
Legend Gigi Buffon rolled back the years saving a penalty and making another couple of excellent saves to keep Juve in this game, having previously announced that he would be leaving the Bianconeri at the end of this season.
“We’ve known this for many months, so it was not a bolt from the blue.”