Juventus had their hearts broken in the cruelest manner possible against champions-elect Napoli on Sunday night in Turin. Twice the Bianconeri saw goals chalked off for iffy reasons, and then endured the ignominy of a late perfectly-hit volley from Giacomo Raspadori settling the tie (with Juan Cuadrado still flouncing about looking for a penalty in the opposite box).
Speaking after the game, coach Massimiliano Allegri pretty much echoed the thoughts of most Juve fans, albeit in a much more civil manner.
“It’s disappointing to lose a game like that, but we should’ve done better on the goal. We just stopped playing and absolutely need to do better in that sense.”
Despite the attacking additions at the hour mark of the talismanic Federico Chiesa and Angel Di Maria, Juve seemed to cede even more ground to the visitors.
“At that moment we needed technically-gifted players who could take men on. Chiesa will be in better shape next season, we knew that was going to happen after such a serious injury. Milik did really well, I had to rest Vlahovic after Thursday.
“It was a good performance, that remains, we conceded a goal like dummies. It’s simple, just look at the move, we are at the 93rd minute and ought to have bodies into the box to defend.”
In what was a heated game with players from both sides getting overtly physical at times, Allegri talked about the reaction from his players.
“We need to stay calm, accept as we always have done the refereeing decisions – good or bad. Otherwise we waste energy, because we cannot change the result now.
“The referee was very good today, I congratulate him on his performance.”
What was his side taking from the pair of defeats to Napoli, especially for the younger players in the squad?
“This is part of the growth process for players, something we take for granted. We were too slow and static in reacting to the ball in that situation.
“Napoli are a strong side and are about to win the Scudetto, it’s sad, but we still have an advantage over the others in the race for the top four. We are still in the Europa League and Coppa Italia semi-finals.”
The third consecutive league loss has certainly dampened the recent positive run, and the first such streak since early in the last decade (2010-11 under Luigi Del Neri).
“I think Napoli absolutely deserved the Scudetto. We had some difficulties this season, especially after the 15-point penalty. We’ve still got a lead over Milan and Inter, so now we must pick up the points we are missing.”
What does he see as a realistic goal for Juve at this point?
“I think the lads need praise, as they have had a really good season. I hear so much talk and people really don’t know anything, it makes me laugh. This is a surreal situation we were in and the lads were marvellous.
“This is a season that will help us grow a great deal and next year we’ll be right back up there fighting for the Scudetto.”