NEWS
Tuesday March 9 2021
Pirlo defends Juventus approach to Porto

Andrea Pirlo would not have done anything differently after Juventus went out to 10-man Porto in the Champions League, but players ‘didn’t sense the danger’ on that free kick.

The Bianconeri crashed out of the Champions League in the Round of 16, despite the fact Porto were down to 10 men from the 54th minute.

Even in extra time, they were only able to scrape a 3-2 win on the night, going out on away goals, 4-4 on aggregate.

This was therefore an even more painful exit than to Ajax or last season Olympique Lyonnais, especially as it was so clearly deserved.

“When you make four big errors over two legs in the Champions League Round of 16, you can get eliminated,” Pirlo told Sky Sport Italia.

“We didn’t get it wrong when Porto were down to 10, as all we could do was try to spread them out by moving the ball side to side and packing the penalty area with bodies. That is how the goals arrived.

“It will take a few days to cancel this game from our minds, but then we must face every game with the right attitude, realise we’re still only in March and have time to climb the Serie A table.”

After so many comebacks from conceding early goals, is there a problem with the initial Juventus approach?

“We had started well and there was a chance with Alvaro Morata to take the lead immediately. It didn’t go in, there was an error for the penalty, we could’ve conceded a second, but then played the game we should’ve done in the second half, helped also by the extra man.

“I don’t think our starts are a problem. We knew Porto would play like this, the game could change if we scored in the opening minutes. When you concede, then it becomes a completely different match.”

Fabio Capello said the error on the Porto free kick was ‘unforgivable’, as both Ronaldo and Rabiot turned around in the wall and seemed ‘afraid of the ball.’

“We choose the players to go in the wall. It had never happened before that they’d turn around, maybe they felt it was so far out that they didn’t sense the danger,” replied Pirlo.

“It was a mistake, it usually doesn’t happen, the players didn’t feel it was a dangerous situation and conceded a goal.”

This is the first real failure of Pirlo’s coaching career, as he won his first trophy with the Italian Supercup and reached the Coppa Italia Final.

“There are games and games, these things happen in the life of a coach. It’s the first for me, it’s bad, but we have to roll our sleeves up, knowing it’s only March and we have young players who are growing with every match and put the effort in.

“I don’t think we can complain to the players or ask for more, as they gave their all today and it can happen that some players have an off night.”

Considering Maurizio Sarri was sacked for not getting past the Champions League Round of 16, is Pirlo anxious?

“I don’t know why Sarri was removed. I am the coach of Juventus, I was brought in for a more ample approach, a project that was always meant to develop over several years, so I am not concerned.

“I am not happy to be working with a full week, as I’d have preferred to stay in the Champions League. Now that we’re in this situation, we can work on various aspects in training, which we haven’t had time to do so far this season, and try to improve on those.”