Juventus 57, Napoli 56.
Not for the first time this term, Massimiliano Allegri emerged from the winning home dressing room to address the media with good reason to be delighted after Saturday night’s last-gasp 1-0 win over Napoli.
There was however, a very important difference relative to Allegri’s previous post-match interviews: having clawed back 11 places in 15 matches, the Tuscan’s men now find themselves top of the table.
Reflecting on what could prove to be one of the most important results of the season, the Bianconeri boss was typically composed in his analysis of the night’s action and rightly proud of his side’s resilient showing at Juventus Stadium.
“It was a very tight encounter between two teams that deservedly find themselves in first and second in the table,” he began. “Napoli kept the ball very well in spells and would have scored themselves were it not for (Leonardo) Bonucci’s first-half interception.
“These kinds of games are often decided by one moment and that is actually what happened tonight. Winning today was far from straightforward; going top is very important but there are still 13 games to go.
“Overall, we played with real authority and managed the game in the best possible way.”
For Allegri, overcoming Maurizio Sarri’s former leaders with such authority was the latest demonstration of Juve’s unrelenting fighting spirit and the latest of many signs that his men deserve to be considered among the favourites for the league title.
“Our resolve and title credentials have really been put to the test this year and considering they have fought back from 12th place, the team deserves massive credit. Results like this are great for morale and will only contribute to our growth as a group.”
The focus of course being on the word team as super sub Simone Zaza’s crucial intervention from the substitutes’ bench proved once again that it will be the side with the deepest squad that will be crowned champions at the season’s end.
“It’s a team game and it will be the interventions of the guys from the bench that will make the difference this season. It’s up to me to make the most of the qualities players like Simone can offer late in the game.”
Next up for Allegri’s men? A well-earned rest of aching limbs and a restoration of energy reserves ahead of next Friday’s trip to Bologna and the following Wednesday’s Champions League showdown with Bayern Munich.
“We were in a dark place at the start of the season, dropping points all over the place. The important thing for us now is to rest up and regain our composure after what was a really energy-sapping night. We have to go to Bologna now and make sure we keep this run going. Then it will be time to think about Bayern.”
Allegri calls for calm from table-topping Juve
Juventus 57, Napoli 56.