Maurizio Sarri has given his verdict on the club’s first game back after lockdown, coming back on Friday night against Milan at San Siro.
The Juventus manager was full of praise for his side after they reached the Coppa Italia final. The Bianconeri drew 0-0 on the night and 1-1 on aggregate, advancing to the final on away goals thanks to their first leg performance four months ago.
Speaking to Italian channel Rai Sport, Sarri said: “Everyone had a strong opening 30 minutes and then faded away. I was very surprised and satisfied, as we moved the ball so quickly and totally dominated the game, even before the red card. It’ll take some patience, but the first 30 minutes I saw today was an excellent sign.”
Juventus started the game well, winning a penalty inside 15 minutes. However, Cristiano Ronaldo hit the post with his effort, before Milan’s Ante Rebić was sent off seconds later for a ridiculous challenge on Danilo.
Sarri did, however, admit to some regrets in how he handled the game – particularly his misuse of the inflated number of allowed substitutions.
“I made a stupid mistake. I got swept up in the enthusiasm of having five substitutions, but making three at once was a big risk and at that moment we lost our hold on the game. I evidently ought to spread the changes out more.
“I substituted Douglas Costa out of fear that he’d get hurt, but when I took him off, he still seemed one of the sharpest. He’s a player who can make the difference when fit.”
While it ended goalless in Turin, the Serie A leaders went through on away goals. They had drawn the first leg 1-1 back in February, with Ronaldo’s late penalty at San Siro being the deciding factor in the Coppa Italia semi-final clash.
Sarri added: “After that, we slowly dropped our tempo, intensity and mental determination, but that is a risk in an empty stadium. We had been doing so well, playing one and two-touch football, but then we slowed down and lost some sharpness, focused more on individual moves and taking two touches.
“The positive is that we didn’t allow the opponents to play at all. It’s going to take a while to get the fitness and mentality back to 100 per cent. If you compare it to a pre-season game, it’d be early July, but this is worse than pre-season, because it was a much longer break.”
Napoli and Inter will battle it out on Saturday for the honour of reaching the Coppa Italia final, and facing Juventus in Rome. Napoli lead 1-0 on aggregate after the first leg, and will be looking to finish the job off at the Stadio San Paolo.
Juventus have reached their fifth final in six years, having won in their last four final appearances. They will go to the Stadio Olimpico next week, with the final set to be played next Wednesday on 17 June.
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