Pirlo tells stars he is 'not happy' as Juventus are foiled in Turin derby

By Sports Desk April 03, 2021

Andrea Pirlo has admitted he is fed up with Juventus failing to display enough imagination and ambition to overcome rivals' spoiling tactics.

A 2-2 derby draw with lowly Torino on Sunday followed a shock 1-0 loss to Benevento before the international break, with hopes of a 10th successive Scudetto now forlorn.

Pirlo's first season as head coach has been one of major underachievement given the quality within his squad, but Juventus have said they will support his plans to take the team forward.

It means Pirlo looks sure to get a second season, but he and the club's leadership will expect to see more from the team in 2021-22, with the coach telling his players their current level is not good enough.

"We've played lots of games so it's natural for a bit of fatigue to creep in but we can't let that happen," Pirlo said.

Cristiano Ronaldo scored a 79th-minute leveller after Antonio Sanabria's double saw Torino overcome losing an early goal to Federico Chiesa. Rodrigo Bentancur fired against the post, but Juventus could not find a third goal.

"After we equalised we took control of the game again and hit the post, so we did respond well," Pirlo said. "But when we're up against sides that sit in and defend it's hard to play through the middle - we have to channel moves down the wings.

"We need to be a bit patient, keep the ball moving and attack down the flanks.

"Obviously I'm not happy when we don't win and we're dropping lots of points. We have to work hard on occupying the space better and finding more options between the lines."

Giorgio Chiellini said there were "too many mistakes" before looking ahead to Wednesday's clash with a Napoli side who could yet pip Juventus to a Champions League place.

Juventus sit fourth but are only ahead of fifth-placed Napoli on goal difference.

Chiellini, quoted on the club website, said: "We have to stick together, keep our heads down and carry on working hard every day.

"We have another important match on Wednesday and it's one we need to win. We must push on, keep giving our all and try to secure our minimum target, which is qualifying for the Champions League. We know it's going to be a battle until the end of the season."

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    Juventus will be without Leonardo Bonucci for the Coppa Italia final against Atalanta, Andrea Pirlo has confirmed.

    The centre-back missed the weekend's 3-2 win over Serie A champions Inter with a knee injury that keeps him sidelined for Wednesday’s game.

    Juve will have Paulo Dybala available, though, and Pirlo admits he is facing some difficult decisions when it comes to the composition of his forward line.

    On Bonucci, the Juventus boss said: "[He] has a knee problem and won't be available tomorrow. We have several solutions for tomorrow."

    Dybala also failed to appear in that game, remaining rooted to the bench as Juventus secured a much-needed victory despite losing Rodrigo Bentancur to a 55th-minute red card.

    However, the Argentina international is fully fit and could come back into the starting XI in Reggio Emilia.

    Pirlo added: "[He] is fine. He played a good game against Sassuolo, but there were no conditions for him to enter on Saturday. He is available and ready to play.

    "All the attacking players are doing well, so we will then decide who to start from the beginning."

    Juventus' two Serie A meetings with Atalanta this season brought them a home draw and an away defeat.

    And Pirlo expects another big test from a team who have continued to grow under Gian Piero Gasperini this term.

    He continued: "Atalanta forces you to pick up the pace, we know it and we are ready to face it. I don't think it will be a very different match from the other two. 

    “We earned the final with two hard-fought matches against Inter. We really want to bring this trophy home.”

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    Mauricio Pochettino hopes to have Neymar available for Wednesday's Coupe de France final after Paris Saint-Germain appealed against the forward's suspension.

    Neymar was booked four minutes after being brought off the bench in last week's eventful 2-2 semi-final draw with Montpellier, which PSG won 6-5 on penalties to progress.

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    PSG are awaiting a decision from the relevant authorities and Pochettino insists his side's plans will not be disrupted either way.

    "We don't know if they will be available, but we hope so. We will see in the next few hours if we can count on them," Pochettino said at Tuesday's pre-match news conference.

    "We are awaiting a decision and will prepare as normal. I will pick my team tomorrow. The rest does not change."

    PSG lost both league meetings with Monaco this season – 3-2 in November and 2-0 at home in February – and the two sides are involved in a thrilling Ligue 1 title battle.

    Reigning champions PSG are second in the standings heading into the final set of fixtures, with leaders Lille one point better off and Monaco two points further back in a three-way race.

    Pochettino faces a huge week in his first half-season at the Parc des Princes, with Wednesday's clash against in-form Monaco at the Stade de France followed by a league trip to Brest.

    "We are coming to the end of the season and have two games that we must win – they are both finals," Pochettino said. 

    "We don't need any extra motivation, and the physical aspect will not be a problem for us. There is a good atmosphere in the camp as we are close to two titles.

    "Monaco deserve credit for their wins against us and they are a physically strong team with a lot of qualities.

    "I think we deserved better in the last game between us, but they have played well. It is a final and I hope now the result will be different."

    Pochettino took over from Thomas Tuchel in the Parc des Princes dugout in January and he lifted the Trophee des Champions in his third game in charge.

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    "I am a calm coach. I don't have much excitement beforehand," said Pochettino, who was a beaten finalist with Tottenham in the 2018-19 Champions League.

    "We know our responsibilities and want to be as efficient as possible. I have confidence in the team and we will prepare in the right way for this final."

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    Eden Hazard believes Lille winning Ligue 1 this season would be a greater achievement than when he inspired the club to a domestic double a decade ago.

    Belgium star Hazard enjoyed a breakout campaign in 2010-11 when Lille won Ligue 1 and the Coupe de France.

    He left for Chelsea after the following season, when he retained the Ligue 1 Player of the Year crown, but has kept a keen eye on Les Dogues ever since, having joined the club at 14 and progressed through the youth ranks.

    "I owe almost everything to Lille," he said in an interview with the club's official website.

    "If I am here today, it is partly thanks to the people I met in the north [of France], to the coaches, but also to all those whom I was able to meet during these years. 

    "They all have a part in my success."

     

    Christophe Galtier's current vintage will wrap up an improbable Ligue 1 success this weekend if they are able to match Paris Saint-Germain's result.

    PSG are away at relegation-threatened Brest, while Lille travel to mid-table Angers, although last weekend's frustrating 0-0 draw against Saint-Etienne has done plenty to set nerves jangling – their advantage at the summit trimmed to a solitary point.

    Bolstered by the lavish wealth of their Qatari owners, PSG have won seven of the past eight French titles, with Monaco's success in 2016-17 the outlier.

    "Honestly, if [Lille] are champions this season, it would be even better than us in 2011, because there is now the Qatar version of PSG, which makes this championship even more difficult to win," Hazard added.

    "The supporters deserve it. When we won this double, they had to wait over 50 years to see the club lift a trophy. And in this complicated period, it would be good for everyone. 

    "The people of the north deserve it and especially the players."

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