Pirlo: ‘A step back for Juventus’

Andrea Pirlo admits the 2-2 draw with Roma was ‘a step back’ in terms of performance for Juventus, but ‘we are a work in progress’ and explains what didn’t quite work.

The coach changed one player from the 3-0 win over Sampdoria, Alvaro Morata for Gianluca Frabotta, but that resulted in a transformation of their tactics.

Cristiano Ronaldo twice got them back on level terms after Jordan Veretout goals, even though Adrien Rabiot was sent off for two bookable offences on the hour mark.

“We faced two completely different teams this season, so I knew our approach would be totally different to the one against Sampdoria,” Pirlo told Sky Sport Italia.

“It was a step back in terms of performance, but this is a work in progress and we haven’t had an opportunity to play pre-season friendlies to test these things out.

“It was ultimately a point gained, as we were a goal down twice and then down to 10 men, while we have some players like Arthur who haven’t really played for six months.

“We wanted to make the most of one-on-one situations, as we knew Roma would attack in numbers, but it didn’t go quite the way we hoped. It was always going to be tough against an organised team.

“We tried to keep the midfield lines tight to not allow space for the trequartista. At times it worked, at times it didn’t, but we are having to test all these situations during a match, seeing as we didn’t have pre-season friendlies.”

The way Pirlo sets out his players remains very fluid, with three at the back mutating into four, Aaron Ramsey in more of a free role, but always two in midfield.

“We have midfielders suited to a two-man system, so Bentancur, Arthur and Rabiot all have these characteristics and we have to put them in the condition to give their best.

“Unfortunately, these are all situations you can’t test out in training, it needs to be a match. Arthur needs time to adapt to Serie A and to our style of football, not to mention he’s not fully fit after so long out of action,” continued Pirlo.

“Bentancur played if anything too much last season, he ended the campaign exhausted and has been doing specific training work to get back into shape.

“We’re very glad to have Ronaldo, as he doesn’t just provide goals. He ran more when we went down to 10 men and that was a great help to his teammates.”

Dejan Kulusevski and Juan Cuadrado went wide this time around, but struggled to get genuine scoring opportunities.

“We knew it could be difficult down the wings, as Roma have very aggressive defenders. We should’ve spread them out more, but got the movements wrong and all went in the same direction, so that didn’t create the spaces we were looking for. These are areas where we can certainly improve.”

Pirlo was asked if Inter have more strength in depth than Juventus now they’ve brought in Achraf Hakimi, Arturo Vidal and Aleksandar Kolarov.

“I don’t know if it is better than ours, but it is certainly stronger than last season, as they brought in players of quality. I think it’ll be a battle to the very end. I told the lads substitutions would be important this evening, especially seeing what happened with Inter last night, and that was true.”

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