Juventus did just enough to beat struggling Spezia to jump into seventh place just outside of the European spots. Goals from Moise Kean and substitute Angel Di Maria either side of the break ensured the Bianconeri would return home with three points, though it required a stellar showing from Mattia Perin and the defence in front of him to secure the clean sheet.
Speaking after the game, coach Massimiliano Allegri was unimpressed by his side’s performance before halftime.
“It was a bad first half, we started better after the break and could’ve had another goal with Kean. When Angel came on, clearly he has such quality and experience that it makes everyone feel calm.
“Football is strange, as paradoxically we had more shots on our goal tonight than from Nantes and we must congratulate Perin for his performance, especially the extraordinary save on Gyasi.
“We have now amassed 47 points and must continue along this path, rising to seventh place with 32 points.”
What did Allegri have to say about the lack of bite upfront when Federico Chiesa and Di Maria were not on the pitch?
“All teams have struggled against Spezia, but again strangely though we played better in the second half, we allowed them more chances. Perhaps there was some fatigue, some misplaced passes.
“It was the first time we had Vlahovic and Kean starting together, so they needed to get the rhythm right on who had to attack the space and who had to make the other run.”
“We did not expect Spezia to play with four at the back, so that was a surprise. Once again, we needed more calm on the ball, as at times we can be a bit ‘hysterical’ in possession and that is where Di Maria is different.
“Have you ever seen champions who are agitated or hysterical with the ball at their feet? I haven’t and I’ve trained a fair few. That calm comes with experience and quality.”
Di Maria also spoke to the media after the final whistle, and had this to say about his insurance goal in the second half.
“I want to help the team, whether I start the game or come off the bench. I am very happy to have scored, as after the assist for Rabiot against Nantes, I wanted to be on the scoresheet too.
“I think at times we are a little tired playing so many games, and Italian football is generally very difficult, especially if you leave yourselves open to the counter-attack. We are trying to keep our heads up and continue to improve.”
Despite being the better side in the first leg of their Europa League playoff clash against Nantes, the Bianconeri head to France now needing a win to secure their berth in the next knockout round.
“We want to qualify, we deserved a better result in the first leg and now we are trying to do our best to get through.”