Andrea Pirlo thanked his Juventus players for their ‘professionalism and spirit of sacrifice’ after fighting back to beat Lazio 3-1, even if ‘we started the game 20 minutes late.’
It was a poor start, Joaquin Correa giving Lazio the deserved lead, cancelled out by an Adrien Rabiot scorcher, until Alvaro Morata bagged a brace in three minutes.
“We started badly and conceded with our poor backpass, but then there was a strong reaction from the whole team, despite missing so many players.
“We didn’t let our heads drop, we started to step up the tempo and that was the most important thing,” Pirlo told DAZN.
The Bianconeri transformed their line-up with Cristiano Ronaldo benched, Danilo in midfield for a 4-2-3-1 formation and Federico Bernardeschi at left-back.
“We thought about Tuesday’s game, we have some players who have barely trained, like Cuadrado and Arthur. We knew tonight was like a final, some had to play in new positions and showed great professionalism and spirit of sacrifice.
“The most important thing was the three points. Danilo was ready to work in central midfield, while Bernardeschi deserves all the compliments for playing as a left-back.
“What I liked the most was the reaction of the team, as we didn’t accept being behind in such a delicate and important game, so it was that spirit I appreciated.”
Juventus have conceded only 10 goals in the second half this season, so does it mean they need time to get into gear?
“We started the game 20 minutes late tonight… It can happen, because some players were returning, others were in new positions, and it’s tough to get back into it after going behind to a Lazio side who have been together for years and had all week to prepare.”
“Unfortunately, we haven’t had Morata with us lately due to physical and other issues. He has characteristics that are different to all the other strikers in the squad and we can’t wait to have him at 100 per cent.”
Dejan Kulusevski made some errors and is still not quite delivering the standards expected.
“He is reacting as a champion. It’s natural when coming to Juventus aged 20 that there’s more pressure and every pass seems important. He is proving himself to be a champion in his mentality even quicker than he proves it on the field, so I expect great things.”
There’s a huge game for Juventus on Tuesday, as they must overturn the 2-1 first leg defeat to FC Porto.
“I feel more tired than the players, so I need a rest too! We need to find the right approach for this game, as the Champions League is such an important target, we cannot get it wrong on Tuesday.”