Juventus will take a narrow one-goal advantage to Germany next week after Angel Di Maria thundered home a second half header to give the hosts a 1-0 win in the first leg of their Round of 16 clash in the Europa League.
Speaking after the game, coach Massimiliano Allegri was pleased with the overall performance though he did have regrets that Juve did not score more.
“I think the lads played very well this evening, with great intensity, good technique and fortunately their goal was handball, otherwise we’d have conceded an equaliser with the only shot on goal!
“What we do need to do is improve on the final ball, as we often choose the wrong pass or time it wrong, and those are fundamental, otherwise they allow the opponents to get back into shape. It happened a few times and I had a word with Moise Kean as well on that, as he should’ve released Juan Cuadrado clear on goal. At this level, you cannot get that wrong.”
With away goals no longer a factor in European competition, Juve aren’t taking much of an advantage to Freiburg next week.
“It won’t be easy away to Freiburg, but what makes me think positive is that we created numerous chances. In the second leg, they will have to take more of the initiative, allow us more spaces and we must take advantage of that.
“We need to be more clinical, as our percentage of goals scored compared to chances created is still too low.”
Second half substitute Federico Chiesa seemed to go down with a right knee ailment but couldn’t be taken off as Allegri had exhausted his quota of changes.
“He felt a twinge, we all hope it is nothing serious.
“We’ll see tomorrow. At the moment I can say nothing because I know nothing. I didn’t see him after the game because he was taken to undergo anti-doping tests.”
Allegri might not have a full squad for this weekend’s game against Sampdoria after goalscorer Di Maria also clutching his adductor muscle.
“Di Maria put in an intense performance for 90 minutes. I think he had a cramp. We’ll see tomorrow.
“We have some players out, Fabio Miretti just came back today and could play a half. Leonardo Bonucci did well too, it’s a pity that Moise Kean will be suspended on Sunday in a very, very difficult and very important game for us, as we need to get back to winning ways in Serie A. Once we get into the head-to-head clashes, anything can still happen.
“The important thing against Sampdoria is to have the right attitude. In these situations, the players will have to make sacrifices for the team.”
Paul Pogba was expected to feature today but was kept out of the squad in a disciplinary move after showing up late to a team meeting.
“There are rules within a team like Juventus and they need to be respected above all by the veterans. To go all the way in a competition, you need as well as technique and quality, more importantly character and moral strength.
“I think Pogba arrived on time tonight, so he will be available from tomorrow.”