Maurizio Sarri believes Juve’s 2-1 victory over Lokomotiv Moscow “was not one of our best performances” and confirms that Cristiano Ronaldo is injured.
The Bianconeri left it late yet again but managed to secure their place in the last 16 of the Champions League thanks to a moment of magic from Douglas Costa.
“It was not one of our best performances,” admitted the coach on Sky Sport Italia.
“We were too open to the many counter-attacks and we knew that they would take this sort of approach to the game. We were too open in the first half, lost the ball too cheaply, so it was impossible to immediately go and win it back.
“After the break, we had too many men in front of the ball and the passing was too slow, which created the big risks we’d lose it and get caught on the counter.
“At least I saw good character from the players, as they really wanted the win at all costs and achieved it with Douglas Costa’s moment of magic, in conjunction with Gonzalo Higuain.
“Douglas Costa has only just returned from a long injury, so he’s not yet the player he was. He’s still a little timid on the acceleration, but still has so much quality that he can play in any area and make the difference.
“We needed to rest some players, because we had six games in 18 days. We knew Aaron Ramsey and Douglas Costa didn’t have 90 minutes in them, so preferred to alternate them. We wanted to avoid fatigue.
“Ronaldo is not in great shape at the moment, as over the last few days he’s had a bad knee, so to compensate for it he is putting more strain on the adductor.
“He was already irritable towards half-time because it was causing him problems. On a sprint, he made a movement I didn’t like the look of, so I was afraid he’d really hurt himself and decided it was best to take him off.”