Sunday April 2 2017
Allegri: 'Juve more defensive at Napoli'

Max Allegri said Juventus had “no shame” in being more defensive during their 1-1 draw away to Napoli and the Coppa Italia semi-final is “more important.”

Sami Khedira opened the scoring after seven minutes, but Marek Hamsik curled in the equaliser after some great build-up play with Dries Mertens.

It cuts the gap at the top of the table from Roma to just six points.

“At the start we had played well, moving it from side to side, but once we took the lead, we allowed Napoli to take control and in my view we weren’t sharp enough in possession,” the Coach told Mediaset Premium.

“I had expected there to be difficulties. You win titles with games like these, by picking up difficult points on your travels.

“We’ve got four games at home now, four away, so we need to do well. On Wednesday we can get our place in the Final, know we’re facing Napoli again and can prepare with great calm.”

Will it be a different Juventus in the Coppa Italia semi-final, as they have a 3-1 first leg lead to protect?

“Paulo Dybala barely trained for 12 days and tonight I didn’t want to play him at all. Juan Cuadrado only returned on Friday, so I didn’t want to risk them.

“I have to compliment my players, because you can’t always dominate games and especially not against this Napoli. We allowed a few shots in the first half and in the second had lowered Pjanic to the midfield, creating some good opportunities.

“There is absolutely no shame, as the important thing is to bring home the result. We weren’t at our best tonight, it certainly was not an easy night considering everything around the match, but the lads handled it very well.”

It was Gonzalo Higuain’s first game at the San Paolo since leaving last summer and he was jeered loudly at every touch.

“Higuain had a good performance, especially in the first half. I’m happy with what he did. He is grateful to Napoli, just as Napoli should be grateful to him. They can take separate professional paths, but that’s natural in this business.”

Mario Lemina was a surprise starter in the 4-2-3-1 system, in a more advanced role behind the striker.

“We have two games this week, Cuadrado returned on Friday, so this was a very important game for us, but not as important as Wednesday.

“Kwadwo Asamoah had a good game, at times a bit too busy, as he Jose Callejon is very difficult to mark. He can squirm away at any moment.”

Juventus are trying to focus on the current situation and not think about the Champions League quarter-final with Barcelona.

“There are 10 days to go, it’s a long way off. Besides, it’s easy to prepare for Barcelona in terms of motivation. Barcelona fear us and we have great respect for them, that’s normal. We’ll do everything to get through to the semi-finals, but the important thing is being there.”

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