Juventus’ game at Cagliari was every bit as ‘ugly’ as coach Massimiliano Allegri had predicted before the game, with the visitors seeing two goals disallowed and coming from behind to win 2-1 thanks to goals from Matthijs De Ligt and Dusan Vlahovic.
The hosts had gone ahead early in the fractious game through striker Joao Pedro’s sublimely-struck effort as Arthur had struggled to close him down, but the Bianconeri in their yellow, white and blue away kits eventually wore Cagliari and the home support down with a series of chances.
Speaking after the game, Allegri took an opportunity to fire back at the media who have been busy blasting him and his side after losses in key games to Villarreal and Inter Milan despite Juve playing well.
“I don’t like losing, so I prefer criticism when we play badly, but still win. Nobody remembers the performance last Sunday, they only remember Inter marching towards the Scudetto, not how anybody played.
“You never know, they might transform tonight’s game too. The comical thing is that you in the media are always going on about beautiful football, but are also the first to focus only on the result!
“I was told that until the 75th minute against Villarreal, all the websites and social media were praising the Juventus performance. Once we conceded, Juventus were called a disaster.
“That doesn’t make sense. The performance remains the same, the only thing that changed was the result. I enjoy myself hearing the criticism, but every now and then some go a bit over the top and that irritates me.
“It’s not just about us, but football in general. I hope in future years people will return to talking about the ABC of football, like the first touch, shaking off your marker, etc. Italy won the World Cup four times, we have our style, but for 15 years we’ve been chasing after Pep Guardiola’s style and didn’t realise he’s changed as well.”
Paulo Dybala was almost substituted off for Moise Kean but it looked like Allegri changed his mind and kept the Argentine on for another dozen or so minutes, which allowed him to get an assist on Vlahovic’s winning goal.
“He made a few vital contributions, including the assist. If the game had more of a tempo, he would’ve struggled with the intensity, but he grew over the course of the game.
“I am in love with players who have a great touch, who control the ball well. I am old-fashioned that way and think we need to teach that more in the youth academies.
“Why did I delay the change? I am lucky too, you know.”
The media continues to question Allegri about Dybala’s impending departure despite his answers staying exactly the same every time they ask him about the playmaker.
“It ends because there are stories that begin and end. It happens between men and women, it happens between clubs and coaches or players.
“This is part of life. The club was clear, we evaluate everything together, so this decision was made. On the other hand, Paulo is working very hard, he had a lot of injuries and is not yet the Dybala we know, so he can give a lot more in the final weeks.
“He is proving himself to be an excellent professional, just like the other players who will or won’t renew their contracts.”
The coach was asked if his prediction of this game being a scrappy one became a self-fulfilling prophecy.
“We lost a head-to-head with Inter that would’ve allowed us to have Scudetto ambitions. We need to be realistic. I continue to maintain Inter are the favourites, especially with their fixture list.
“Naturally, it’s going to shake a team when you chase down the light at the end of the tunnel for 16 games and then it vanishes. That is why this was a very risky match, especially with players injured and suspended.
“We needed to win this evening to consolidate fourth place, reaching the final two rounds with a good advantage.”
Juve take on Bologna at home next Saturday, before hosting Fiorentina in the second leg of their Coppa Italia semifinal on the Wednesday after that.