Early goals in a decisive first half made all the difference for Juventus as they cantered to a 3-0 lead away at Udinese, and then relied on goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny to make some critical saves to preserve the clean sheet and secure the three points.
As expected though, coach Massimiliano Allegri maintained an even keel in his post-match comments, finding some issues in his side’s performance.
“There are two areas where we need to improve. In the second half, we needed to have more movement and controlling the ball, although admittedly it was very hot.
“The second is that when we make mistakes, we need to defend better in our own half. It’s one thing if you are leading 3-0, but otherwise you can make games more complicated than they need to be.”
It is rare Juve have looked threatening on the left over the last couple of years, but Andrea Cambiaso and Federico Chiesa worked well together in the win. Did Allegri feel Chiesa did well in the winger role?
“I think Chiesa is a striker. I might be wrong, but in my view he is a forward. He gets too isolated playing wide, so he did well partnering Vlahovic. They are improving, but Chiesa again went a bit too wide. I think Chiesa can score 14-16 goals this season and playing him wide is a little reductive.
On Cambiaso and his teammate on the other flank, Timothy Weah.
“Cambiaso is very intelligent and when you have a player like Chiesa who can roam around in all areas, Andrea knows when it is the moment to cover the space or find the gap. Without Chiesa, we need a more linear player at wing-back like Kostic.
“Timothy Weah needs time to adapt to Serie A, but I am happy with his performance, he just went off after a knock to the ankle.”
Despite rumours that Juve are looking to sell Samuel Iling Junior, it was the youngster who came on as a substitute instead of.
“Because I had Iling too, they are in the same role. If Chiesa had come off earlier, I would’ve chosen Kostic, but Iling covers more ground.”
Dusan Vlahovic’s celebration after scoring the second goal of the game seemed particularly emphatic given that he has been linked with a move away.
“Vlahovic had a good game, he was coming off a period where he didn’t play as much. When we get him moving quickly as soon as we win back the ball, that’s where he can flourish. The difference must be when we are controlling the ball, so knowing how to lose his marker and find the spaces. That’s the difficult stuff and we’re working on it with him.”
With the Bianconeri suspended from UEFA competition for the year, this is a good opportunity to focus on the domestic scene.
“Staying out of the Champions League is a big loss for this club after I think 12 years. We will miss it, I won’t deny that, because everyone says it is an advantage playing once a week, but we enjoy playing the best teams in Europe.
“Despite a difficult year, the team finished third in Serie A and deserved to play in the Champions League. Things obviously are different this way and we will have more time to work individually with players as well as on the group movements.”
For his part during his comments, Chiesa talked about some ‘modern tactics’ that were in place this season, but Allegri insisted that was nothing new.
“We need to make the most of the characteristics of our players. That means a high press to support the strikers and there is lots to learn. We’ve had one win, let’s keep our feet on the ground and not think we’ve suddenly resolved everything. I don’t share that sort of debate. We need to be organised and cover the spaces, also when we press high.”