Massimiliano Allegri hailed the 1-1 Serie A draw recorded by his Juventus side at Napoli on Sunday as showing the mark of champions.
The league leaders were put in front in the sixth minute by Sami Khedira but they were second-best for much of the encounter at Stadio San Paolo.
Napoli captain Marek Hamsik levelled for the hosts but despite plenty of pressure they could not find a way to break down Juve, who moved six points clear of Roma as they seek a sixth straight league title, with Allegri proud of his players’ resistance.
“At the start we had played well, moving it from side to side, but once we took the lead, we allowed Napoli to take control and in my view we weren’t sharp enough in possession,” Allegri said. “I had expected there to be difficulties.
“You win titles with games like these, by picking up difficult points on your travels. We’ve got four games at home now, four away, so we need to do well. On Wednesday we can get our place in the [Coppa Italia] final, we know we’re facing Napoli again and can prepare with great calm.
“I have to compliment my players, because you can’t always dominate games and especially not against this Napoli. We allowed a few shots in the first half and in the second had moved [Miralem] Pjanic to the midfield, creating some good opportunities.
“There is absolutely no shame, as the important thing is to bring home the result. We weren’t at our best tonight, it certainly was not an easy night considering everything around the match, but the lads handled it very well.”
— Sami Khedira (@SamiKhedira) April 2, 2017
Gonzalo Higuain struggled to make an impact on his first return to Stadio San Paolo since joining Juve, failing to record a single touch in the Napoli box, but Allegri defended the striker’s performance and explained the absence of Paulo Dybala, who was named among the substitutes.
“Higuain had a good performance, especially in the first half,” Allegri said.
“I’m happy with what he did. He is grateful to Napoli, just as Napoli should be grateful to him. They can take separate professional paths, but that’s natural in this business
“Dybala barely trained for 12 days and tonight I didn’t want to play him at all. Juan Cuadrado only returned [from international duty] on Friday, so I didn’t want to risk them.”
— JuventusFC (@juventusfcen) April 2, 2017
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