Juventus looked more like a side that hadn’t played in two months, not two weeks, as they struggled to play coherent football in their return from the international break. The home side had a goal from Moise Kean to thank for all three points as the striker marked a double against Hellas Verona, with his sole marker in both legs securing identical 1-0 scorelines.
Such is the fury of coach Massimiliano Allegri that he is starting to make a habit of not watching the last few minutes of games, once again storming down the tunnel well before the referee blew his final whistle.
“We knew the difficulties of this game, as Verona are physically strong and have quality, both teams had chances to score. We started the second half well and could’ve doubled our lead, we did not, but still brought home the result.
“We didn’t play very well and I think in the last five minutes we had to go and score a second goal, keep pushing them and maintain the pressure. It doesn’t seem like much five minutes, but all Verona needed was a long ball into the box and anything could happen. We could’ve been here licking our wounds if they had equalised.”
In spite of the 15-point deduction, Juve are right in the thick of the Champions League race, with the Bianconeri now only six points behind Inter Milan, who could find themselves in fourth by the end of this weekend if Milan win.
“This result means we have earned 59 points on the field, closing the gap on Inter and momentarily on Milan and Lazio. We’ve got Inter on Tuesday in the Coppa Italia and then Lazio on Saturday, so we’ve got to be ready.”
Is Allegri’s insistence of not counting the points penalty some sort of Jedi mind trick he’s playing on his squad?
“In football if you have a good run of results, that allows you to catch up pretty quickly. We have to take it one step at a time. The ‘real’ table that we see there shows we are still four points off the Champions League spots and that is a lot.
“I repeat, it is not easy to play in these circumstances, but the lads are doing well. The first game back after international duty is also usually a tricky one and they did well to get it done.”
Dusan Vlahovic did not get the start, was Allegri trying to limit his minutes?
“Vlahovic is doing some good things, especially against Inter. I realise that from the outside Dusan is seen as the one who was meant to resolve Juve’s problems. He arrived in January last year and gave us a crucial push with enthusiasm, but he had only one season at Fiorentina under his belt and playing at Juventus is not the same as other clubs.
“I think he is doing better than last season on a technical level, so I am pleased with that. He just needs to stay calm. Kean and Vlahovic are more finishers, while Milik has more experience and knows where the ball will land.”