Massimiliano Allegri told his Juventus players to internalise their frustration and focus on training harder after defeat to Benfica put their Champions League hopes in peril.
A 2-1 loss in Turin followed last week’s defeat by the same scoreline at Paris Saint-Germain, leaving the Bianconeri six points behind both of their early conquerors after two rounds of Group H games.
Allegri, in the second season of his second spell as Juventus head coach, appeared to point to the mental fragility of his team after the final whistle, saying they “collapsed” after going 2-1 behind in the 55th minute.
He has said he does not fear for his job, nor is he willing to engage in drawn-out public discourse about how the Turin giants might get back on track.
It is simple, according to Allegri, who believes working beats talking in a time of crisis.
“I knew when I came back that it would take time to rebuild,” he said. “But unfortunately I did not think that at this moment we would lose two games in a row [in the Champions League].”
Juventus won nine consecutive Serie A titles before failing to make it 10 in a row during Andrea Pirlo’s single season in charge.
They laboured to fourth place under Allegri last term, and the coach says finding an instant winning formula was always going to be difficult.
“But this is something the club knows, we all know it, but the important thing is to try to do well, to stay in the Champions League,” Allegri said. “And these two games p***** us off.
“This does not mean that everything is compromised in the Champions League, but at the moment talking is useless. Plus the less we talk, the better it is, because we waste less energy.”
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With his team sitting eighth in Serie A after two wins and four draws so far this season, Allegri’s words sounded worrying after Wednesday’s defeat.
Juve had no response to the dominance of Benfica, who had previously lost 10 of their last 12 visits against Italian clubs.
“In these moments I think there are few explanations to give,” Allegri said, “because in any case after we went 2-1 down, the game was over because it was in their hands. On a psychological level we had collapsed and therefore, in this moment, we can only remain silent, work and take little step after little step to get back up.”
He pinpointed Sunday’s Serie A game against Monza as a chance to bounce back, but whatever the result of that game it will do nothing to repair the early damage to Juve’s European hopes.
“At this moment, going to look for and talk about the problems that exist does not make sense,” Allegri said.
“The Champions League in this moment is complicated. This doesn’t mean that it is already over, but at the moment the closest thing is Monza. So we have four days to better prepare for the match in Monza at a mental level.”
He added: “I don’t want to blame the lads for anything. It is normal that there must be a sense of responsibility on the part of everyone and everyone needs to do something more – not overdo, but do.”
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