Wednesday September 18 2019
Sarri: 'Got to work on set plays'

Maurizio Sarri admits Juventus “have to work on defending from set-plays, because we need to be more aggressive” after a 2-2 draw with Atletico Madrid.

Juan Cuadrado and Blaise Matuidi had given Juve a 2-0 lead at the Wanda Metropolitano in their Champions League opener, but two headers from set plays completed the comeback.

“It was a vast improvement from the last performance and we felt like the game was in our hands, so drawing leaves a bitter taste in the mouth,” the Coach told Sky Sport Italia.

“Juventus had not scored in this stadium for many visits and we got two goals, plus had another three or four shots on goal. It’s disappointing, because the Atleti goals came from predictable situations and yet we weren’t ready for them.

“The cliché would be to switch to man-marking, but I don’t think that makes sense. We need to be more aggressive on set plays. Atleti are very good in the air, but the ball was so weak and we were too passive, as it could’ve been cut out.

“If we’re being passive, then we’d be passive with man-marking too. I also see a lot of VAR incidents with man-marking lead to penalties, so that’s another area to be wary of. We will work on defending from set plays.”

Federico Bernardeschi was expected to start, but Juan Cuadrado was given the nod in place of injured Douglas Costa and scored the opening goal.

“We knew there would be spaces and Cuadrado’s pace and sharpness on the counter could be very useful.”

It was an improvement from the 0-0 draw with Fiorentina at the weekend, which particularly irritated Sarri.

“I think that against Fiorentina there were some negative situations and we let ourselves get distracted, so lost the focus on the real objective, which was to get three points. The Viola were much more determined and I saw a physical gap, yet the statistics afterwards showed we ran better and had quicker accelerations.

“I therefore assume the difference was psychological, so they got to the ball first because they were more determined. Tonight, we had the right level of determination and showed some of the things we try every day in training.

“Now we need to resolve the problem of set plays, as it’s penalising to concede four goals in three games from dead-ball situations.”

Sarri was asked about his constant note-taking, which seemed even more frenetic than usual this evening.

“On the bench and the lads in the stands write constantly to speed up the work the next morning. We allowed the opposition 20 turnarounds and that uses up a lot of energy. It also means we evidently had the ball in open spaces and were caught out.

“Cuadrado trained for two months as a full-back and today played in attack, so evidently that was my fault in training him for one role and then using him in another. I accept that might make it difficult for him.”

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