Maurizio Sarri believes that the ‘criticism was unfair’ from Juventus, Federico Bernardeschi, and Matthijs de Ligt, so he was pleased with the response from Bologna. The Bianconeri had come under fire after their two goalless Coppa Italia draws with Milan and Napoli but got back on track with this evening’s 2-0 Series A win at the Dall’Ara.
Cristiano Ronaldo converted a penalty after Stefano Denswil had a fistful of Matthijs de Ligt’s jersey and then Paulo Dybala scored a sensational solitary effort.
“Tonight we were physically sharper, as we kept up the tempo and intensity for 70 minutes, while we fell off in the Coppa after 20-30 minutes,” Sarri told Sky Sport Italia.
“In his last two replacement appearances, Fede had done well so he gave the impression that he was in good shape. He did well both defensively and attacking so I’m happy with him. He is often an over-criticized and under-valued lad. We had a lot of opportunities to kill the game at 3-0 but our momentum was running out at the end and we had to sit down a little deeper. It’s not a philosophical or tactical decision, when the fuel runs low it is physiological.”
Sarri has been strongly criticized by fans and pundits but relying on star strikers is not viable.
He said: “Having individual top-level players means that at times they can solve the game for you, but we need to put the entire team in a situation where they can do their best, but we can also continue to work when the star names are either absent or off. They will inevitably have some days when they’re not as sharp, and we need other options.”
De Ligt was taken down for the infringement, but he was always successful at cleaning up dangerous situations.
“Matthijs got more used to our Italian football style. He came from Holland, where they didn’t spend much time in defense analysis, but he adapted to Series A much faster than many other foreign players who came here at his age. He’s destined for greatness, and will surely become one of Europe’s best defenders,” he added.
After the match, Leonardo Bonucci said Juventus had an intense debate behind closed doors, following the recent losses.
“There are opinions about football and life and there are facts. If you were listening to the thoughts, you would have thought this squad was falling to bits. If you look at the truth, we ‘re at the top of the table, “Sarri said.
The criticism has been overwhelming and it can serve as a catalyst for us to get back into mental shape even more than physically, which may take a little longer.