Juventus boss Maurizio Sarri believes his sides "improvement" was key to their 2-1 victory over SPAL on Saturday evening.
The 61-year-old also wishes to “eradicate” defensive vulnerability and suggests “the Scudetto is an objective, the Champions League a dream.”
Talisman Cristiano Ronaldo opened the scoring netting in his 11th Serie A game in a row, before Aaron Ramsey chipped over goalkeeper Etrit Berisha to make it 2-0. Andrea Petagna's spot-kick gave SPAL a consolation, but Juve secured three more vital points, as they look to claim their ninth successive Serie A title at the end of the campaign.
“I get the sensation the team is clearly improving, it’s just a pity we don’t kill matches off. It’s good to see we are creating opportunities with a certain degree of consistency, including rattling the woodwork seven times in our last three games.”
Daniel Rugani's foul in the box, which resulted in a penalty given by the VAR officials due to the referee's earpiece and pitch side monitor not working, was dispatch by 24-year-old Petagna meaning SPAL had the chance to get back into the game.
“We are conceding a lot of penalties, which is unusual considering how we tend to defend outside the box. Tonight we had a penalty given against us by VAR when the VAR wasn’t working! If that had been the other way, I can only imagine what they would’ve said.
“It seems like a great injustice if the VAR can make a decision and not the referee. Why is the referee even there, in that case? La Penna explained it to me after the game, that this is written into the rulebook. I don’t agree with it, but it’s there.”
Sarri hailed the impact of Giorgio Chiellini who made his first appearance since rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament back in August last year.
“He had an hour today, 20 minutes in the last game and during his presence on the field, we did not concede a goal. He can’t play every three days, that’s for sure, but over the last 10 days, he has improved a lot and returned to fitness much quicker than expected.
“If he continues to improve at this rate, he could play one of the big matches coming up. We have to see how Giorgio reacts to the strain, so it’s not an issue of choosing the right game so much as the right moment when Giorgio is in good shape.”
The Juve manager was annoyed at the fact his side failed to keep a cleansheet, especially having gone two goals to the good.
“At certain moments of the match, we defend in an active fashion, so pressing the opposition high. The moment we don’t do that, we get passive and once again concede a lot of shots on goal.
“We’ve had this problem since the start of the season, it’s getting more and more limited to various stages of the game and hopefully we can eradicate this weakness entirely.”
Sarri was later asked when will the fans and media get to see the "real Juventus" that everybody wants to see.
“It depends on what people are expecting. The team is growing, I think and hope we have large margins for improvement, above all in the consistency of our performances and intensity throughout 90 minutes.
“Coming here three days before the Champions League and playing with such concentration was not to be taken for granted, so it’s a step forward.”
Champions League remains the ultimate dream for Sarri, Ronaldo and the club as a whole and the manager claims they must take each game at a time and not get carried away.
“Our objective must be the Scudetto and the Champions League a dream. In life sometimes it’s good to chase your dreams and miss your objectives.
“The problem with the tournament is that there are very few games in the knockouts and each one can be decisive. It’s a competition that is within reach of 10-12 teams, so whoever wins, in the end, is not just the best, but also the most fortunate.
“Last season Chelsea played in the Europa League with 13 wins and two draws, yet we risked going out at one stage and had to qualify on a penalty shoot-out. So we risked not winning it, despite being unbeaten and winning 13 matches.”
The result increases the Old Lady's tally at the top of the table to 60 points, having played a game more than second-place Lazio who have 56 points and third-place Inter Milan on 54 points.
Attentions now turn to the Champions League, as Sarri’s side travel to the South of France to take on Lyon in the first-leg of their last-16 tie, on Wednesday at 15:00 (CEST).
27 Feb 2020
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