Antonio Conte revealed his tactics for an injury time Juventus victory over Udinese, but is worried about Andrea Pirlo.
“Zeljko Brkic put in a great performance, as did Gigi Buffon. It was an exciting game with one team attacking and another that was lethal on the counter,” he told Sky Sport Italia of the 1-0 result.
“It was entertaining, a good advert for football and had two sides who wanted to win. We believed to the end, even running a few risks, but we wanted this victory. Don’t forget we were coming off a tough Champions League match, but physically we held out well against an on-form Udinese side.”
Fernando Llorente scored at the 91st minute, but Conte shook things up by introducing Fabio Quagliarella for Paolo De Ceglie.
“I waited until the final 20 minutes and opted to risk it for the victory with an extra striker, making Paul Pogba and Arturo Vidal more static midfielders with Claudio Marchisio wide. I had seen this option in my head if the game was still deadlocked, as I wanted all three points.
“It went well this time and I’ll admit I was fortunate rather than talented, as it could’ve gone either way.”
This was Juve’s sixth consecutive Serie A victory with six clean sheets, sending them three points clear at the top of the table. It is no coincidence that this run followed on from their 4-2 defeat in Florence.
“The Fiorentina game is an open wound that has not yet healed. We were 2-0 up and conceded four goals in 20 minutes. That was a wake-up call, though I honestly would’ve preferred to do without! If it gave my players a desire to fight back and prove themselves, then at least something positive came from it.
“We have been working as a team for three years now and have built an important mentality here that pushes them on towards victory. I am fortunate to have a group of players that want to be protagonists and make their mark, even after winning for two years running. We are all hungry – the Coach, players, club and fans.
“Every game is important. We are three points in front, but let us not forget a few weeks ago we were five points behind Roma.
“It is an exhilarating season in which every match represents a potential slip-up for each team.”
There was some bad news for the Bianconeri, as Pirlo limped off after just 15 minutes with a knee injury.
“We hope Andrea hasn’t hurt himself badly. I hope it is just a knock and not a sprain. He is an important player for us and I want to be optimistic, as Andrea is a champion and will do everything to be back as soon as possible.”