Massimiliano Allegri hailed Emre Can and hit back at the Juventus doubters after eliminating Atletico Madrid. “What else am I supposed to do?”
There had been a mounting campaign from some fans to have the Coach axed at the end of this season after a 2-0 first leg defeat at the Wanda Metropolitano.
However, the Coach silenced his doubters with a dominant 3-0 victory and Cristiano Ronaldo hat-trick to book a place in the Champions League quarter-finals.
“We weren’t perfect, but we did do well to remain concentrated,” said Allegri in his Press conference.
“There was the risk of taking a hysterical approach to the game, as the idea of the comeback had been talked about so much, but we had 95 minutes to get the job done. We did very well and the team deserve congratulations.
“It would’ve been really strange for Ronaldo to end his Champions League season with only one goal… He did well and the lads all contributed, including the fans providing a marvellous frame for the match.
“I think we gave a wonderful evening of football to all those passionate about the sport in Italy.”
The Champions League Round of 16 has been characterised by comebacks, with Juventus following Ajax, Manchester United and Porto in overturning a first leg defeat.
“This is a very difficult tournament and when two teams are on a relatively similar level, these things can happen.”
Allegri was asked if the exit of sides like Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain therefore made Juventus favourites for the trophy.
“No, Juventus are one of the contenders to win the Champions League. If we had gone out after a performance like that, there would’ve been little to say.
“If you don’t play in the Round of 16, you can’t dream of winning the Champions League, it doesn’t take a Harvard degree to know that. If you go through the group phase, you can hope, otherwise you focus on the Europa League. It’s one step at a time.”
This was a tactical masterclass from Allegri, who was missing suspended Alex Sandro, plus injured Mattia De Sciglio, Douglas Costa, Sami Khedira, Andrea Barzagli and Juan Cuadrado.
Juve ended up using Emre Can as almost an extra defender, coming back to fill the gaps when Joao Cancelo and Leonardo Spinazzola bombed forward.
“We wanted to take this approach in the first leg, but we managed it in the second. If Martin Caceres had been in that position, we would’ve been more defensive, whereas Emre played the ball well. I needed someone who could push forward with the ball and he did it very well.
“He defended strongly and showed good character. In my view, it was Emre Can’s best performance since he’s been at Juve. He proved himself tonight.”
Has Allegri managed to prove himself to the doubters too?
“Those who criticise are not my problem, it’s their problem. What else am I supposed to do? In five years we’ve won four and three-quarters Scudetti, reached the Champions League Final twice, won the Coppa Italia four times.
“What more can I do? They’re the ones who need to get treatment, not me. In any case, criticism can be educational, and it’s fun for me too.”