Maurizio Sarri described where Juventus still need to improve and how he adapted his tactics to the players after a 2-1 victory over Inter.
The Bianconeri leapfrog Inter to the top of the table and are the only side still unbeaten in Serie A this season, as Paulo Dybala – a surprise starter – and substitute Gonzalo Higuain secured victory at San Siro, despite the temporary Lautaro Martinez equaliser from the penalty spot.
“Overtaking at the top means little right now. The most significant element is that we played well, with character and determination against a side that had won every game so far,” he told Sky Sport Italia.
“We started well and had the right approach in a fiery atmosphere, so that’s a good sign.”
The winning goal scored by Higuain was a genuine example of Sarriball, with 24 quick passes in the build-up before Pipita’s finish.
“A team with quality can do that. When the passing becomes fluid, a goal and scoring opportunities arrive as a direct consequence of that.
“I think this team has already made important steps forward in its passing. What we need to work on is dominating the match, having territorial supremacy, pressing better and more, taking away any attacking initiative from the opposition so that we can spend our whole time in the opposition half.
“This squad is accustomed to defending much deeper, but they are adapting and we’ve seen definite improvements in that sense.
“I feel we can still improve a great deal more. It’s a gradual process, the team has strong individuals and so much strength in depth. It means at the moment we can get results, even if we are not playing at 100 per cent.”
Sarri had started with the 4-3-3 he made his trademark at Napoli and Chelsea, but moved to a 4-3-1-2 at Juventus – similar to the Empoli model.
“Maybe people thought I was dumb… They just had to pay attention. I started with a system at Empoli, then changed it completely. I went to Napoli with one system and transformed it for three years.
“I went to Chelsea and played what looked similar, but was in fact a completely different interpretation of it. You have to adapt your tactics to the characteristics of the players.”
Sarri did use Gonzalo Higuain, Paulo Dybala and Cristiano Ronaldo together, but only for nine minutes at San Siro.
“At that moment, we were dominating the game and it would’ve been unjust in my view not to win, so we tried that out for a little while.
“However, I got the sensation from the touchline that the momentum was turning the other way, so I changed again.”
Matthijs de Ligt gave away the penalty with a handling offence and seemed to struggle today.
“De Ligt doesn’t speak Italian well yet, but he is adapting very quickly to our style of football, our type of defending and has enormous potential, but he is still adapting and that brings difficulties.
“Giorgio Chiellini’s injury forced us to rush the introduction of this lad and a more gradual process would probably have helped him.”
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