Tuesday March 12 2019
Allegri: 'Wanted this in first leg'

Max Allegri explained this Champions League triumph over Atletico Madrid “was what we had planned for the first leg, but I made some changes” to revive Juventus.

The Bianconeri had the odds stacked against them, losing the first leg 2-0 and hosting a side that had kept five consecutive clean sheets.

Cristiano Ronaldo scored a hat-trick in a completely dominant performance in Turin to win 3-0 on the night, 3-2 on aggregate, and reach the Champions League quarter-finals.

“The lads put in a great performance. They had technique, precision, aggression and it’s what we had planned for the first leg, but I thought about it and made some changes. We didn’t spread the play enough,” the Coach told Sky Sport Italia.

“Everyone had been waiting for so long for this game, there was the possibility of a neurotic performance, so I told the lads to stay calm and keep their balance, otherwise we’d run a big risk.”

Leonardo Spinazzola was a surprise pick for his Champions League debut, replacing suspended Alex Sandro and injured Mattia De Sciglio.

“Spinazzola had an excellent game on the left, Federico Bernardeschi did really well too. It’s a step forward for Bernardeschi and I am well aware of how good he is. We needed a great performance to go through and we did it.”

Emre Can was everywhere, man-marking Alvaro Morata, in midfield, even moving to right-back after Spinazzola was substituted.

“Even in the first leg, we had Bentancur in a fairly similar position to Emre Can. Tonight Emre Can could build out from the back and play in midfield, allowing Spinazzola and Cancelo to let loose on the flanks.

“I had said the chance Lemar missed at the end of the first leg was a decisive moment, the one that would allow us to qualify. I feared the same when we failed to score in the first leg against Real Madrid.”

Allegri seems to bring out his best when in situations having to fightback from a bad first leg.

“I wanted this approach in the first leg, chose different players and it was tougher with those characteristics. We moved too slowly, didn’t push forward enough and our reading of the game wasn’t good enough.

“It’s really satisfying for the fans, the club, the players themselves, as they know that they are a great team. Now we’ll focus on Serie A, getting the points we need to reach the finish line, and then think about the Champions League.”

Gianluigi Buffon wrote a message on Instagram congratulating his former teammates for the result and praising Allegri.

“We thank Gigi, as he wrote Juventus history. We watched the PSG game the other day and were sad to see it go that way, but we’ll try to go all the way to Madrid so he can come with us.”

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