Juventus certainly made a meal of it, and opponents Lecce also showed that they weren’t sitting ahead of Juve in the table by sheer fluke at kickoff, as the hosts last night came away with a narrow 1-0 win, thanks to Arkadiusz Milik popping up at the right place and time to tuck in the only score of the game.
Coming off a largely self-inflicted loss away at Sassulo over the weekend, coach Massimiliano Allegri was relieved to see his bag three points first and foremost, despite his irritation at the performance that saw him exit down the tunnel well before the final whistle.
“It was important to get the win, especially after a chaotic defeat against Sassuolo. We were up against a Lecce side that allow you very little, but we stayed balanced and made the most of our chances.
“We must not play the ball backwards so much, and with a minute to go you cannot just punt a ball into the box, but we need to sort these things out.
“Against Sassuolo, we started strong, but then allowed too much at the other end, so it was better this time to keep the game in the balance and make the most of the chances we do create.”
Allegri reiterated that for him top four was always the target.
“Over the last few days we have gone from Scudetto rivals for Inter to being flops, so there has to be a little balance in the way we are talked about.
“I don’t want to hide here, Inter Milan, AC Milan, Napoli all have better resources than us to win the title. We have many players without a great deal of experience, but they can grow. It takes patience and time to absorb errors and learn from them.”
While Wojciech Szczesny and Federico Gatti both endured nightmarish errors over the weekend, the starting goalie stayed between the posts while the defender was a sub, coming on in the second half as Allegri explained his reasoning.
“Gatti was attacked for an error, but he only has 27 Serie A appearances under his belt, it takes a little patience. Rugani had an extraordinary game today, but he is used to it because he has been at Juventus for eight years and has that calm head.”
In a separate interview, star forward Federico Chiesa shed some light on what Allegri was trying to instill this season, but started by talking about the tentative start to the game last night.
“Maybe in the first half, we had played two or three days earlier. We analysed the game [against Sassuolo] and we did well in the opening 20 minutes. We want to press high and play modern football as the coach wants. There were individual errors [against Sassuolo], but we beat Lecce with a good performance in the second half.
“When you play for this team, you have responsibility. We are at Juventus, a historic team with many trophies. We have leaders in the dressing room, starting from the captain Danilo, Adrien Rabiot and young players like Nicolo Fagioli and Fabio Miretti. We have started with great enthusiasm and we want to finish in the top four to play in the Champions League next season.”
Chiesa was asked to expound on his comment on ‘modern football’.
“Surely, we proved that modern football is made of pressing and not waiting for the opponent. However, we were a bit tired in the first half so in these moments, we must understand that we can wait for the opponents and not be unbalanced, which is what we did at Sassuolo.
“We can’t always press and be attacking-minded, but we are all trying to go the same way and play modern football as the coach wants. We must understand situations and avoid what we did at Sassuolo.”