Saturday January 25 2014
Reja: 'Never easy against Juve'

Lazio Coach Edy Reja had mixed feelings after holding Juventus, as “we could’ve won, but it’s not easy even against 10 men.”

Gigi Buffon saw red after 25 minutes, but Fernando Llorente’s looping header equalised and in the second half the Biancocelesti hit the woodwork with Miroslav Klose and Keita Balde in a 1-1 draw.

“We had a terrible start, as for 20 minutes we were slightly nervous under their pressing. We did better, were a little unlucky to hit the woodwork twice, as we could’ve won,” Reja told Sky Sport Italia.

“The team reacted very well, Klose had two or three good chances and I had hoped we would win. Juventus by-passed the midfield and started to float balls in for Llorente which were very dangerous.

“Juve are very talented and at a very high level, so it was not easy even against 10 men. We knew that we could have difficulties in the middle and defending on Carlos Tevez and Llorente, so we used a three-man defence and did well to close down their trajectories in the middle.

“Perhaps we should’ve done better on the counter-attack. Marco Storari also performed some extraordinary saves.”

Etrit Berisha was a surprise starter in goal yet again, but Reja explained it was Federico Marchetti’s choice to go on the bench.

“Berisha has done very well over the last few games, making the defence feel calm and he reads the game well. I can trust him.

“Marchetti was meant to play, but during the week had a few physical problems with a stomach bug and he confessed he didn’t feel well today, so I told him to sit on the bench. He had recovered, but not completely and to face Juventus you need to be at your best.”

Lazio adopted a three-man defence this evening and Reja explained his tactical choices.

“We knew Juve came forward with one striker who’d flick it on for the other, so we worked on closing down those vertical lines. There’s also Arturo Vidal who moves down the right and Andre Dias was ear-marked to close down whoever went down that line.

“I considered going four at the back, as the team was holding up well in midfield, but I saw Hernanes and Antonio Candreva causing them problems on the flanks and believed we had a certain balance.

“The trouble is with Llorente it doesn’t matter how you mark him, he’s going to get the header, so you need to double up and protect the knockdown.”

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