Juventus were made to pay for falling asleep after scoring early in the game against Nantes in their Europa League playoff first leg in Turin on Thursday night. The final score of 1-1 did not quite reflect the balance of play, but as we all know, that is exactly how football goes.
Dusan Vlahovic had put the home side after a strong start, finishing off a delightful move between Angel di Maria and Federico Chiesa. The latter pair both hit the woodwork in the second half as they attempted to settle the clash, but instead it’ll be the Ligue 1 side that’s more pleased after taking advantage of the only real chance they had with a goal off a lightning-quick counterattack.
There were some incredulous scenes near the end of the game after a handball prevented an almost certain goal from Bremer’s header off a corner, but for not the first time this evening, the referee seemed to indicate the Brazilian defender had pushed his man down as they both climbed for the ball.
Speaking after the game, coach Massimiliano Allegri remained unperturbed about the incident.
“There’s no point sitting here saying there was a penalty or a second yellow card.
“We could’ve done better with the way we moved the ball around. After taking the lead, we stopped, we moved the ball in slow motion. Only once we conceded the equaliser on a counter-attack did we switch back on again.
“You cannot control the ball in a tiny patch of turf, you have to move it around, make it move at more than 1mph, the ball was just rolling at times. Once we started moving it with pace, you saw that we created scoring opportunities.
“There were several chances to make it 2-1, but we need to be consistent and score more goals, especially in this game. There’s no point crying over spilt milk now, it won’t help one bit. We need to earn our qualification in France.”
Di Maria passed up on a shooting chance, which then led to the counter that the visitors executed perfectly to get their equalizing goal.
“Di Maria could’ve had a shot, he tried to dribble, then it was better to just go for the foul earlier. It had been coming, because we were static, we moved the ball too slowly and that goal woke us up.
“It was a good goal from Nantes too, not an easy finish at all.”
Allegri has been on the edge with his temper in recent weeks, reflective of the turmoil around the club, and blew up again today when he was pointedly asked if he preferred to win games 1-0.
“I never said I wanted Juve to win 1-0, you drive me crazy with this rubbish. It’s this cliché that I want my teams to win 1-0, but that is not accurate. It’s simple, look at all the statistics of my teams, I always had the best defence and the second best attack. You cannot escape from the statistics. Look at Milan and Juventus, that is my record.
“My teams always scored 70-80 goals per season. You lot chat about nothing, I talk about numbers, that is the problem. I know you have to sit there and talk about nothing to fill time, but I don’t. You imagined this, created the story and then keep spreading it. You see things abstract, I see what is concrete. You’ve got all the statistics, look at them.
“In football, there is just one thing that counts: winning games. It doesn’t matter if it is 1-0 or 5-0. Nonetheless, the fact remains my teams always had the best defence and second best attack.”
Captain Danilo, who reportedly agreed to a two-year contract extension earlier this week, joined Allegri in speaking to the media after the game.
“First up, all of us want to express our team’s thoughts for Ignatius Ganago, whose daughter died this week. We cannot imagine what he is going through.
“Clearly, we started well, moving the ball and finding the right spaces. We slowed down and they regained confidence. In Europe it doesn’t matter who the opponent is, if you don’t play with the right intensity, you will struggle.
“We knew Nantes had quality strikers and a lot of pace. We have to improve our choices, as we reach the final third well, but then don’t always pick the right pass or shot. We need to be more determined and also to learn when to slow down or speed up the tempo.”
Not for the first time this season, an error from 2021-22 Serie A defender of the year Gleison Bremer allowed Juve’s opponents to score. Tonight, his slip during the counter from Mostafa Mohamed and Ludovic Blas let the latter get a shot off that Wojciech Szczesny had no chance of saving.
“I think if Bremer hadn’t slipped, we would’ve defended that counter-attack better. These things happen, it’s bad luck and we conceded.
“We did have the right attitude after that and luck wasn’t on our side, but we shouldn’t need luck, we should be able to put the ball in the net.”
Alessandro Del Piero on the Sky Sport Italia panel asked Danilo how he expected his teammates to respond to this result.
“We have to evaluate the whole game. It is not an easy period for Juve, I won’t hide that I thought it was clearly a penalty and that is all, but we must remember it is in our hands. We must raise the intensity and realise when the other team is struggling that this is the time to push harder.
“Tomorrow we will certainly feel confident, especially as Spezia are coming up on Sunday and fortunately with the modern football schedule we get a chance to prove ourselves again straight away.”