Maurizio Sarri saw “improvement” from Juventus in a 2-1 win over SPAL, hopes to “eradicate” the defensive weakness and warns “the Scudetto is an objective, the Champions League a dream.”
Cristiano Ronaldo scored the opener, on target for the 11th Serie A game in a row, with Aaron Ramsey’s lob before an Andrea Petagna penalty.
“It’s the same situation we had in the last game, many scoring opportunities and we kept it alive to the end anyway,” Sarri told Sky Sport Italia.
“I get the sensation the team is clearly improving, it’s just a pity we don’t kill matches off. It’s good to see we are creating opportunities with a certain degree of consistency, including rattling the woodwork seven times in our last three games.”
The penalty incident was curious, as the earpiece communication with VAR and the on-field review monitor were not working, so the VAR officials made the call on Daniele Rugani’s foul.
“We are conceding a lot of penalties, which is unusual considering how we tend to defend outside the box. Tonight we had a penalty given against us by VAR when the VAR wasn’t working! If that had been the other way, I can only imagine what they would’ve said…
“It seems like a great injustice if the VAR can make a decision and not the referee. Why is the referee even there, in that case? La Penna explained it to me after the game, that this is written into the rulebook. I don’t agree with it, but it’s there.”
Giorgio Chiellini had his first start since rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament in August 2019.
“He had an hour today, 20 minutes in the last game and during his presence on the field, we did not concede a goal. He can’t play every three days, that’s for sure, but over the last 10 days he has improved a lot and returned to fitness much quicker than expected.
“If he continues to improve at this rate, he could play one of the big matches coming up. We have to see how Giorgio reacts to the strain, so it’s not an issue of choosing the right game so much as the right moment when Giorgio is in good shape.”
Sarri was again irritated at the lack of a clean sheet and tendency to concede after going in front.
“At certain moments of the match, we defend in active fashion, so pressing the opposition high. The moment we don’t do that, we get passive and once again concede a lot of shots on goal.
“We’ve had this problem since the start of the season, it’s getting more and more limited to various stages of the game and hopefully we can eradicate this weakness entirely.”
Sarri was asked how much longer it will take to see the kind of Juventus that the fans and media are expecting.
“It depends what people are expecting. The team is growing, I think and hope we have large margins for improvement, above all in the consistency of our performances and intensity throughout 90 minutes.
“Coming here three days before the Champions League and playing with such concentration was not to be taken for granted, so it’s a step forward.”
The Champions League is known to be the ultimate Juve target, although Sarri warned it’s an unpredictable ambition.
“Our objective must be the Scudetto and the Champions League a dream. In life sometimes it’s good to chase your dreams and miss your objectives.
“The problem with the tournament is that there are very few games in the knockouts and each one can be decisive. It’s a competition that is within reach of 10-12 teams, so whoever wins in the end is not just the best, but also the most fortunate.
“Last season Chelsea played in the Europa League with 13 wins and two draws, yet we risked going out at one stage and had to qualify on a penalty shoot-out. So we risked not winning it, despite being unbeaten and winning 13 matches.”
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