They say that the sign of champions is that of occasionally winning games against the run of play and that’s precisely what happened on Sunday evening when Juventus dug deep to secure maximum points against a spirited Fiorentina outfit at the Stadio Artemio Franchi.
Speaking after the final whistle in Florence, Massimiliano Allegri admitted: “It was far from easy winning here tonight against a very strong Viola team, who created enough scoring chances to possibly earn a draw.
“We kept things tight in the first half, keeping their attacking threat to a minimum, and we were defending well again after the interval until we conceded. From that point onwards, we risked being hit on the break more often by them. Matches here are never ever over until the final whistle.”
Of course, the result could easily have been very different were it not for the late heroics of club captain Gigi Buffon, who denied Nikola Kalinic from the penalty spot in injury time, and the goalkeeper’s latest impressive performance between the sticks was unsurprisingly singled out for special praise by his manager.
“Buffon is a true talisman of this club. His words take on a greater significance to those of any other squad member. That said, we have so many important players here. There’s a great collective strength in this side.”
Taking into account the array of qualities on show among Juventus’ ranks at present, Allegri could not but look towards the future with positivity, as he called for the squad to keep maturing into an even more formidable force in the Champions League following last month’s dramatic last-16 reverse at the hands of Bayern Munich.
“Of course we’re disappointed about events in Munich, where we played a great match, ultimately decided by the minutest of details. Our displays of the two legs nonetheless represent another step forwards in our growth.
“Next season I’m certain that this team, with the excellent support of management, will do well again in Europe. In order to do so, however, we need to improve in terms of how we use the ball and how we deal in resisting their pressure when we don’t have possession.”
Before thinking about the following campaign, however, the Tuscan tactician stressed that there would be no taking the foot off the gas Juventus look to enter their Coppa Italia final on 21 May against Milan in peak condition.
He concluded: “Tomorrow we’re back to training. Tuesday is our day off. Then we’ll get preparing for the visit of Carpi. We can’t afford to let our intensity drop at all. We’ve got a crucial cup final on the horizon and we want to be in the best possible shape for that.”