Juventus and their fans were really not here tonight to watch the game, much less care about a result that made no difference in their league standing. Instead, all eyes were on a couple of players who would be making their last appearances in Turin in the famous Bianconeri stripes.
Lazio, who were yet to secure fifth place in the league, fought hard after going behind by two goals to tie it with virtually the last kick of the game, but after the final whistle they quickly retreated to the visitors’ dressing room as the lights in the stadium shone for two big names in Juve’s recent history - Giorgio Chiellini and Paulo Dybala.
Speaking after the game, Massimiliano Allegri paid tribute to both players.
“It was a marvellous evening full of emotions, it was a night for Dybala and Chiellini. Chiellini is quitting, he gave Italian, European and world football so much in terms of passion and love for his job. I think everyone in youth academies should study videos of Chiellini to learn how to defend.
“On a personal level, he gave me so much. When I arrived at Juventus, it was him, Buffon, Barzagli, Bonucci and Marchisio who let me understand Juventus and helped me.
“Paulo was an important player for seven years at Juventus. He was a child when he arrived, I feel like I helped raise him. He earned his place and the fans quite rightly gave him an extraordinary tribute that he deserved. He gave a great deal to Juventus with passion and class.”
Paulo Dybala was moved to tears after playing his last match at the Allianz Stadium pic.twitter.com/orheJPClvQ— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) May 16, 2022
Dybala’s tears were particularly moving and the coach was asked whether he was not prepared to leave the club?
“It’s not about being ready or not ready, it’s just emotions. Perhaps Giorgio will cry when he goes home tonight, Paulo couldn’t hold it in. I felt emotional seeing them too, I was glad to experience these emotions, as I did others.”
Allegri was expectedly irritated by the manner with which the visitors secured a point late on.
“We were winning, the players were doing well, but these things happen and it’s in a way emblematic of the season we’ve had. We need to get accustomed to winning again.”
With the summer mercato approaching, how was Allegri planning to rebuild the midfield, which has been the Achilles heel for this Juve side for a couple of years now.
“I spoke to the club, we have some clear ideas, naturally the market is unpredictable. I think we laid some good foundations, players like Vlahovic and Zakaria just arrived, they will improve next season. Fabio Miretti really impressed me with his forward passing, I love that.”
Juventus say goodbye to Giorgio Chiellini pic.twitter.com/GpLioy1OnX— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) May 16, 2022
Meanwhile, club captain Chiellini seemed to indicate that he would be heading to the USA to play in the MLS next season.
“I honestly don’t know, I need to face an important decision. An experience abroad enriches you just on a cultural level even more than on the field, so I feel the need for an experience and to face a different culture outside of this life at Juventus that I know so much.
“I will decide with my family soon.”
The veteran defender exited the game at the 17th minute mark in a pre-orchestrated move.
“I had 17 minutes tonight, one for every year at Juventus!
“I made my debut against Messina, coming on for Pavel Nedved. That was the start of the long story that took me here. I leave with so much joy and peace, because it was a decision that was made over months, not weeks or days.
“I always said I wanted to leave at a high level, suited to the career I had, and I achieved that. It was a tough year for Juventus, but I was able to prove myself at my level on the field and that gave me the push to step aside and let the younger players through.
“Now that they have been cuddled and protected, it is time they take on the responsibility. I am well aware that I clipped the wings of some youngsters at Juventus, so it’s time for them to fly and I will be cheering them on.”
Italy’s failure to qualify for the World Cup later this year played a big part in his decision to step down now.
“Clearly, that accelerated the whole thing. My plan was to reach the end of the year and the World Cup, because I felt after winning the Euros that I could be part of it. Obviously, I would also leave space to the others, but unfortunately it didn’t go the way we wanted.
“I now leave a Juventus side and a Nazionale in good hands with talented young players who are ready to get going.”