Maurizio Sarri explained his choices as Juventus beat Sampdoria 2-1, including the all-attack trident and Merih Demiral. “He’s bursting with energy.”
The Bianconeri secured their status as at the very least joint Serie A leaders over Christmas with a 2-1 victory away to Sampdoria.
Paulo Dybala’s volley and a soaring Cristiano Ronaldo header proved the difference, while Gianluca Caprari had temporarily equalised.
“Dybala’s goal was wonderful, so was Ronaldo’s, as he seemed to hang in the air for an infinite amount of time,” the coach told Sky Sport Italia.
“We did well, it was a particularly good first half, while we were a bit too chaotic in the second. Even then, we didn’t run many risks and it’s a pity we didn’t lock it down earlier, because anything can happen during the late scrambles in the box. The team seemed in good shape.
“We were too stretched out after the break, allowing extra spaces to Sampdoria.”
This was the second game in a row where Sarri started Ronaldo, Dybala and Gonzalo Higuain together.
“There will be games where not all three play. They have been playing a lot lately and can get tired, while we have Aaron Ramsey and Douglas Costa recovering from injuries and they need time on the pitch too.
“Higuain did well in the first half, but lost intensity after the break. This is a period where he is playing constantly, so that’s understandable.
“The primary aspect when deciding whether to use the trident is their fitness levels during the week. They can only play together if they are all in good shape, because otherwise the rest of the team would suffer.
“When they are in the kind of form we’re seeing now, we then look at the characteristics of the opponent and decide if it’s right to use them or not.”
Adrien Rabiot is also pushing for more playing time after being practically ignored for most of the season.
“His qualities are emerging. He was out injured for quite a while, but has improved as these three games have gone on, which means he has not yet expressed himself fully.
“I think his potential is superior to what he’s shown so far in his career.”
Merih Demiral was also preferred to Matthijs de Ligt yet again.
“He has this great positive energy that he transmits to his teammates and we need to use that at the moment. If you see someone in training who is bursting with energy, you put him on the pitch. Once you realise he is carrying on that attitude during a match situation, you keep him there.
“Demiral is brimming with confidence right now, so it seems only right that he plays.”
This was Sarri’s 100th Serie A victory in just 169 games, the fastest coach to hit that milestone since 1994-95.
“A coach is indelibly tied to the teams he trains. In recent years, I was fortunate enough to lead squads who had very high win percentages, Napoli and Juventus. If I’d stayed at Empoli, it would’ve taken many more years.”
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