Thursday February 13 2020
Sarri: 'Juve growth has stalled'

Maurizio Sarri concedes “Juventus growth has stalled a little in the last three weeks and we concede avoidable goals,” but saw positives from the Coppa Italia draw with Milan.

The Bianconeri clawed a 1-1 away draw in the first leg of this Coppa Italia semi-final thanks to a late Cristiano Ronaldo penalty, awarded for Davide Calabria’s arm charging down a CR7 volley from close range.

Ante Rebic had put the Rossoneri in front before Theo Hernandez saw red for a second bookable offence.

Theo Hernandez will be suspended for the second leg, along with Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Samu Castillejo.

“We did better in terms of our passing and playing out from the back, but were somewhat lacking in the final third. It’s a process and we are continuing,” Sarri told Rai Sport.

“We conceded some avoidable goals, for example today the cross was quite slow and in my view easy to defend. We were coming off a bad performance in Verona, but picked up a positive result, especially as it’s the first leg.

“At times we are too sluggish and shouldn’t have allowed Ibrahimovic into the box. Even if he didn’t touch the cross in the end, his presence was fundamental in stretching the defence. We weren’t aggressive enough in our defending.”

Following on from the 2-1 defeat to Hellas Verona in Serie A, Sarri was asked if he was worried by Juve’s current form.

“I am not worried, as the only real worries in life are your health. It seems a normal phase to be going through, it’s unthinkable for a team to be a continual ascent. This is a sport, so much depends on the physical and psychological conditions of so many players.

“Our growth has stalled a little in the last three weeks, we concede avoidable goals. Having said that, we’ve conceded only two more than the best defence in Serie A, so it’s not that much of an issue.”

Sarri made tactical changes for this match, moving Aaron Ramsey into midfield with Juan Cuadrado as part of the trident attack.

“Miralem Pjanic had a good game, so did Ramsey for some time, but he then fell away in the second half. Ronaldo was left too isolated from his teammates to be decisive this evening, but I did not see the midfielders moving it slowly at all.”

The coach was asked about the upcoming clashes, including Inter and the Champions League with Olympique Lyonnais.

“We were in fantastic shape 15 days ago, less so now, but might be great again in 15 days. It’s difficult to tell in football, but I saw some positive signs from this evening.”

Giorgio Chiellini is back in training after his ACL tear over the summer, so when will the captain be able to play?

“When talking about certain players, it’s evident they would be missed by any team in the world. These are top players and their absence is felt.

“Giorgio brings character and energy to the defence. I don’t know precisely how long the recovery process will take. He played 50 minutes today against one of the youth teams, he said he felt good, so we’ll try to organise something a bit more testing next week and then decide.”

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