Juventus jumped into fourth place in the Serie A league table with a 2-0 win over Hellas Verona to cap off a remarkable week. The Bianconeri signed striker Dusan Vlahovic and midfielder Denis Zakaria and Massimiliano Allegri started both players, only to reap the benefits of seeing the pair scoring debut goals in the victory.
Speaking after the game, the coach wanted to ensure his side do not get carried away.
“They did well and were lucky. It was a tough game, as Verona run hard, we took the right approach and the forwards worked hard, while we created chances, showed quality and are happy with the performance.
“Having said that, it’s important we stay focused, keep our feet on the ground, because there’s a long road ahead of us. Verona made it really difficult with their challenges and duels, but we had such enthusiasm, it would’ve been a pity not to mark it with a victory.”
Paulo Dybala and Alvaro Morata put in strong all-round performances creating the two goals and together with Vlahovic posed a threat every time they had the ball.
“I told them I’d gladly play all of them together, but they need to put the effort in. They did really well, both attacking and defending.
“Paulo played really well, sacrificed himself and gave Vlahovic an excellent assist, Alvaro did the same with Zakaria.
“Now we’ve got the Coppa Italia, we want to get into the semi-final and then we have Atalanta next week.”
Vlahovic could easily have had another goal or two, showing a much-needed hunger to go for goal at every opportunity. However, Allegri wanted to make sure he stayed humble.
“Vlahovic had a couple of poor initial first touches at the start, which he needs to improve so it’ll be cleaner in his movement. He loves being in the battle, but he’s only 22, he doesn’t have that much experience.
“He needs to improve the way he shakes off defenders, including on his right foot.”
Allegri was asked if Zakaria reminded him of Blaise Matuidi, a former Juve midfielder from the coach’s previous stint at the club.
“Matuidi was more aggressive than Zakaria, he’d get there with these long legs. Zakaria is a smart guy, he dived straight in there and did well.”
Is Juve’s main goal for the season still a Champions League berth, or did he think they could still make a run for the title?
“The Scudetto is between Inter, Milan and Napoli, we are out of it right now. As for the Champions League, it’s still wide open.
“We have to take it one step at a time, Atalanta have a game in hand and we go head-to-head on Sunday. The Scudetto is between those three up there. Unfortunately, we are missing those four points that would’ve allowed us to challenge for the title, but we didn’t get those points, so we just have to accept it.”
For his comments, Vlahovic talked about the work the team had put in to ensure they didn’t come out flat from the break.
“It was very important to win this match because after the break for international duty is the toughest, especially mentally. We had the right approach from the start and did the important thing, which was to win.
“I must thank my teammate and the coach for helping me so much over the last few days. I too am trying to understand as quickly as possible how things work here. I am giving it my all.
“The most important thing for a striker is to score goals, but I want to improve in my general play, shaking off defenders, helping the team as much as possible.
“The coach told me to stay calm, not feel anxious, and that it would all go well.”