Juventus exited the Europa League at the semifinal stage, with a winner in extra time from Sevilla required to separate the two sides who had battled valiantly in both legs. While in the first leg at home the Bianconeri required a last gasp equalizer to nab a draw, this time it was their Spanish hosts who leveled and then overhauled Juve in a competition they seem to have a mystical relationship with.
Dusan Vlahovic had produced a finish of class after being brought on in the second half, but first a Suso thunderbolt and then a header from the unmarked Erik Lamela in the first half of extra time settled the duel for Sevilla.
Speaking after the game, coach Massimiliano Allegri put up a brave face.
“When you play these games, the details make the difference and it’s a moment from scoring to conceding.
“It was a good performance and these are steps the players need to take in order to learn, especially the younger elements. It was a hard-fought game, we could’ve scored to go 2-1 up, made a few mistakes at 1-0 up too, and were penalised by the second goal.
“Anything could’ve happened, they did well to score and we didn’t.”
After an empty-handed season last year, Juve followed it up with another, with the futile campaign not even producing a single final either.
“Unfortunately, it has been a difficult season. Nobody was born knowing it all, Sevilla were smart and had a lot of fouls and challenges to slow things down. Now we need to focus on finishing second in Serie A.
“We have to shake off the disappointment and put this energy into improving the points tally we had last season.
“There is regret but it is a fundamental step in the growth process of the team, even if it would have been better if it had happened in the final.
“I believe that in football it is difficult to do things right in the short term. It was an anomalous season and now we will try to finish second in the league and improve the standings compared to last season. We tried to win, but we didn’t succeed.”
Allegri seemed to indicate that Seville’s greater experience made the difference in the semi-final clash, so how come he picked players like Moise Kean, Nicolo Fagioli and Samuel Iling-Junior for a game of this importance?
“I chose Iling and Kean because Sevilla have defenders who struggle with the physicality and pace of those players. It’s a pity we didn’t reach the Final, as the lads deserved it and had more to give in this competition after the season we’ve had.
“Sadly, when you don’t have much international experience, that difference shows. Next season these lads will improve in the details and have learned from this.”