Juventus put in a gritty and resolute defensive performance at the San Siro on Sunday night’s showcase game in the Serie A to come away with a 1-0 win against Inter Milan. The Bianconeri’s winner came from a well-taken shot by Filip Kostic, finding its way through two players and into the far corner early in the game. The Nerazzuri’s response was concerted but ultimately futile as they were unable to convert any of their chances and if anything it was Juve who were guilty of missing the better chances to make it two or more.
Speaking after the game, coach Massimiliano Allegri talked about his decision to storm down the tunnel well before the final whistle.
“They didn’t need me anymore at that point. I was getting irritated, so rather than get myself booked or sent off, I decided it was best to leave. I left it in their hands, the players knew what they were doing.
“It was very important for us and always difficult to surprise Inter on home turf. We were able to win a physical match, the team pressed well and allowed very little at the back, but we wasted three or four really easy opportunities to score. The choice in the final ball, that is where we absolutely need to improve.
“I thank the team for giving me a nice relaxing break for international duty, because otherwise it’s a tense time. You have to win games also to enjoy the next few days of your life, so I tell the lads, I am of a certain age now, so please win and don’t make me suffer too much. They did well.”
The midfield trio of Manuel Locatelli, Adrien Rabiot and Nicolò Fagioli is starting to gel and becoming a go-to lineup addition for Allegri.
“The whole team has improved in general. We defended well as a team, we never let them get past us. Unfortunately, we haven’t really had Pogba at all, Paredes did well at the start and then I used him less, but these are all reliable players. Fagioli has quality and quantity, Locatelli is very good at closing down moves in that role.”
Embattled striker Dusan Vlahovic toiled manfully on his own for most of the game.
“I think Dusan Vlahovic had his best performance since he has been at Juventus. Matias Soule was born in 2003, he did well. Juve have been giving a lot of playing time to these NextGen players and that is a success for the club.
“As I said, it’s the choice of final ball when attacking we need to get right, but this team has heart and determination. I always say that those who are not in this situation cannot understand what it is like. The team found itself with 15 points taken off, that is not easy, but we reached the Europa League quarter-finals, the Coppa Italia semi-final against this Inter and maintained the passion for what they are doing.
“Now we need to unite with our fans and start the push towards the end of the season.”
There was (of course) quite a bit of controversy around the Juventus winner, with replays showing Rabiot appearing to handle the ball as he tried to control it before finding Kostic to score.
“Don’t make me angry… Referee’s decisions need to be accepted, they can go one way or another. We didn’t make a fuss after that Salernitana situation, then earlier this season against Inter we had a goal disallowed and they couldn’t tell if it was handball or not.
“Juve are gentlemen in that sense, we don’t stir up too much trouble. Talk about football, not referees. When VAR was introduced and Atalanta had a goal disallowed a minute later, I said if VAR is objective, then it is functional, but if it becomes subjective, that is a problem.
“The Salernitana offside was objective. If the VAR had disallowed this goal because it felt maybe Rabiot had handled, that is a subjective decision. You are the first to create a sense of bad faith in the referees by always asking these questions.
“Ask me why I picked this player or that one, why I made this substitution, not always trying to cause controversy.”