Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Team effort delights Allegri

SoccerNews in Serie A 6 Nov 2016

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Massimiliano Allegri praised Juventus’ battling qualities after they overcame adversity to claim a 2-1 win at Chievo.

There were nine bookings in a sometimes bruising encounter, that began with Andrea Barzagli dislocating his shoulder while defending a corner.

That thrust Leonardo Bonnuci into action despite the Italy international suffering a thigh injury during the 1-1 Champions League draw against Lyon in midweek.

Mario Mandzukic opened the scoring seven minutes after half-time but Sergio Pellissier levelled for Chievo from the penalty spot.

Juventus responded swiftly through a wonderful Miralem Pjanic free-kick and there could have been further goals as Stefano Sturaro and Juan Cuadrado went close as the clock ticked down.

“We could have won by more goals,” said Allegri, as quoted by Juve’s official website, after his men remained five points better off than AC Milan at the summit.

“We played well – especially in the second half – against a Chievo team that were defending well. We moved the ball around nicely, choosing our moments to attack and defending well when we needed to.

“We had a bit of a difficult start, with Barzagli having to come off. I took a risk by putting Bonucci on but he had a great game, as did the whole side.

“The players reacted well, not that they really even needed to given the season we’re having. It means we’ll enjoy the international break and that’s very important.”

Allegri was impressed by the developing strike partnership between Mandzukic and record signing Gonzalo Higuain, who continued their alliance in attack due to Paulo Dybala’s prolonged injury absence.

“The two up front are working hard for the team, giving everything and performing well,” he said.

“Mario had a good game, as did Higuain, who had two great chances and passed the ball well – that’s vital, given Dybala’s absence.

“There was no problem when [Higuain] came off – I just needed to give us a bit more width so we could take the ball out of the middle of the pitch.

“We were all a bit tired, too. Having so many games one after the other really takes it out of you, both physically and mentally.”

Allegri revealed a dedicated practice regime lay behind Pjanic’s brilliant match-clinching moment.

“I thought Pjanic was fantastic,” he added. “He was playing on the right side of central midfield, so he had less space to operate in and didn’t use up so much energy – that kept his mind fresher.

“He’s been staying behind after training to practise free-kicks for the last three weeks. The more you practise, the better you get.”

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