Massimiliano Allegri called for Juventus to keep improving after they brushed Crotone aside with a 3-0 win at Allianz Stadium on Sunday night, with the coach underlining the importance of upcoming clashes with rivals Napoli, Inter and Roma.
"We gave the ball away a bit too much in the first half and we were too far wide with Alex Sandro and Douglas Costa on the left," began the coach, speaking after the game. "After the break, Douglas came into the inside forward position on the left and we were able to find a bit more space. We switched to a three-man midfield and found the angles more, supplying more balls for [Mario] Mandzukic and [Paulo] Dybala."
Allegri admitted that there is still work for Juventus to do if they are to hit top form.
"We still need to improve the fitness of a few players, but we’ve started doing good work in training," he said. "We’ll be in peak condition soon enough and that bodes well."
The Bianconeri coach also looked ahead to Friday’s big match against Napoli at the Stadio San Paolo.
"We’ll need to play well because it’s a match between two teams fighting for the title," he said. "Napoli are doing extraordinary things – they’ve only dropped four points and they win even when they’re not at their best. It’s never over until it’s over at the San Paolo – we’ll need to hit top form technically and show real focus at the back, as we did last season. These big games come down to the details."
Fixtures against Inter and Roma await for Juventus after the Napoli game, with Allegri admitting that the spell ahead could have a big impact on the title race.
"It’s really tough – all teams are desperate to beat us, but we want to get to March within touching distance of the leaders," he said. "This is going to be an important month in Serie A and the Champions League, so we need to prepare well. These three head-to-heads will have a big bearing on the season ahead."
Allegri had warm words for Mattia De Sciglio, who scored his first Serie A goal in the win over Crotone.
"Mattia lost his way for a year or so, but he’s a good player," he said. "He needs to have more belief in himself, not so much from a technical standpoint but in terms of his character, and show what he has inside a bit. [Stephan] Lichtsteiner did well in the first half and got stuck into the game too, even though he’s a different player."
There was an impressive performance from Claudio Marchisio too, with Allegri talking up the Italian’s role in this Bianconeri side.
"His return is really important, just as his absence had a big effect," said the coach. "Claudio is coming back and still needs to get used to the tempo, but he played well tonight. We’ll need him because you need every single player if you want to go all the way."
Allegri also spoke about the form of Paulo Dybala, who has found goals hard to come by in recent weeks.
"Paulo is only 24 and at the start of the season he was hyped up to the moon and back," said Allegri. "You can’t always score goals and be on top form in football, plus as more time goes by your opponents get to know you better and learn what you’re about.
"Sometimes things don’t flow so well and it’s then that you need to be patient, stay calm, rewind and start again. This is just one of those moments that all players have. Dybala needs to stay calm because he’s an extraordinary player who can change a game at any moment. These spells are part of a player’s development."