Maurizio Sarri has slammed the pedestrian passing of his Juventus players as they fell to a 1-0 defeat to Lyon in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie.

The Serie A leaders were insipid at the Groupama Stadium and had no answer to Lucas Tousart's solitary strike in the 31st minute.

Cristiano Ronaldo huffed and puffed in attack, but was powerless to prevent Juve ending the game without having registered a single shot on target.

Sarri cut a frustrated figure and says he was stunned at how slowly his side moved the ball in comparison to how they did in training ahead of the game. 

"It's difficult to explain why, but in the first half we moved the ball too slowly so the opposition were going to press, win the ball back and score," he told Sky Sport Italia.

"We lacked determination and aggression when attacking, and for 15 minutes lacked it defensively too.

"The second half was better, but it's not enough for a Champions League match. I don't know why I cannot get the players to understand the importance of moving the ball quickly.

"This is fundamental. We'll keep working on it and sooner or later this concept will get into their heads.

"I continued to tell them, and there were many who were doing it, moving the ball too slowly and therefore getting into the wrong positions.

"We had training yesterday and the ball was moving twice as quickly as it did tonight. This is the opposite of what should happen. Lately we're doing a lot of things opposite to in training.

"When the ball is slow, you lose positions, you allow the opposition to close you down, to be aggressive and steal the ball back.

"I don't even think the Lyon pressing was that strong. We just moved it slowly, never varied the tempo, and when you do that, it's unlikely you're going to create anything."

Maurizio Sarri says Juventus fans have "every right" to travel to France for the Champions League clash against Lyon on Wednesday amid the coronavirus fears in Italy.

The outbreak of the virus, officially named COVID-19 which originated in China, forced four Serie A matches to be postponed on Sunday, including the clash between Inter and Sampdoria.

The move came as part of preventative measures taken in Italy after two people died in the country.

Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte has said all this week's top-flight fixtures could yet be cancelled too, while reports suggest Juve will host title rivals Inter behind closed doors in Turin on Sunday.

Sarri, though, has refuted suggestions his club's fans should have stayed at home instead of travelling to France for the first leg of their last-16 tie.

"It's a European and global problem, not an Italian one," he told a media conference. "In Italy, we made 3,500 tests for coronavirus and therefore had many more positive tests.

"In France you had about 300 tests and so obviously the average who are positive is much lower. If you did as many tests as we did, you'd probably have as many positives too. Therefore, our fans have every right to be here."

Juve have not won European club football's biggest prize since 1996, but Sarri does not believe his future is dependent on ending that drought this season.

"I don't know what my future depends on, but the president pointed out that this is a three-year project," he added. "I have great faith in what my president says, as he tends to be pretty clear.

"It's very difficult for any Italian club to chase this dream because we were the leaders 20 years ago, but we have been overtaken due to various reasons in the last couple of decades.

"A dream is not to be underestimated. If you chase a dream and achieve it, that is ecstasy, whereas if you don't achieve it, it was still a wonderful journey."

Giorgio Chiellini could make his first European appearance of the season after a serious knee injury ruled him out for five months.

The centre-back has featured in Juve's last two Serie A games and has subsequently been named in the squad for the trip to France, much to the delight of his defensive partner Leonardo Bonucci.

"We both like to not only play football, but also talk during the game, communicate with our team-mates and help the younger players to make the right movements," Bonucci said. "If there are two of us doing that, it's easier.

"There is also a language issue, because with Matthijs de Ligt we are trying to communicate in English while he learns Italian. It's not quite the same, but we're getting there and improving our communication. With Giorgio there, we can speed the process up."

Manchester City's Champions League ban could have some serious consequences.

While City are planning to appeal UEFA's two-season suspension from European competition after an investigation found the club broke financial fair play regulations, rivals are circling.

City's stars are reportedly attracting interest from far and wide.

 

TOP STORY – BARCA EYE BERNARDO SILVA

LaLiga champions Barcelona are targeting Manchester City star Bernardo Silva, according to the Transfer Window Podcast.

The report comes following City's Champions League suspension handed down to the Premier League giants by UEFA.

City team-mate Raheem Sterling has already been linked to Real Madrid.

 

ROUND-UP

- Marca says Madrid are ready to make a move for Rennes teenager Eduardo Camavinga. The 17-year-old has starred for the Ligue 1 outfit and is reportedly valued at €70million.

Paul Pogba has also been linked to Madrid but Goal claims he could be offered a new contract by Manchester United, who expect the Frenchman to leave at the end of the season. Former club Juventus are also reportedly tracking the midfielder.

Paris Saint-Germain are looking to either Juventus head coach Maurizio Sarri or Massimiliano Allegri amid uncertainty over the future of Thomas Tuchel, reports La Gazzetta dello Sport.

- Lille defender Gabriel is being monitored by Arsenal, Everton, PSG and now Leicester City, according to Le10 Sport.

- The Mirror says Arsenal are set to raise transfer funds through the sale of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and potentially Matteo Guendouzi as the Gunners eye Valencia's Carlos Soler and RB Leipzig defender Dayot Upamecano.

Maurizio Sarri has vowed his Juventus team will not let their focus be affected by the prospect of next week's top-of-the-table clash with Inter.

Saturday sees Juventus travel to face SPAL, who sit at the bottom of Serie A with just four wins from 24 games, and coming away with three points is imperative for Sarri's side.

Juventus are locked in a three-way title battle with Inter and Lazio, and they also resume their Champions League mission next Wednesday with a trip to Lyon.

The Inter tussle follows four days later, so it would hardly be surprising if Juventus supporters were already looking beyond the SPAL game.

That approach is not for Sarri, though, as he explained in Friday's pre-match news conference, stating: "We're coming into the game ready, both mentally and physically in what is an important stage of the season.

"We're not worrying about players picking up suspensions ahead of Inter, we're just focusing on tomorrow's game.

"We're not thinking about the Scudetto race, just tomorrow's game in Ferrara because this is not yet a decisive period."

Sarri is continually exploring formation options and, quoted on the Juventus website, he added: "We're taking it game by game. A 4-3-3 depends on the players that we have available, on a defensive level not much changes.

"SPAL are different on a tactical level with [Luigi] Di Biagio at the helm. It will be a difficult game as they are playing to stay in the division."

Cristiano Ronaldo was rested by Juventus last weekend, when Sarri's men won 2-0 at home against Brescia, but can be expected to return.

Veteran defender Giorgio Chiellini returned from injury as a substitute in the Brescia game but according to Sarri is "just lacking the last step", an apparent indication it will be a while before he is ready to start a game.

If veteran goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon plays, a 648th Serie A appearance would take him ahead of Milan great Paolo Maldini and into the outright lead in the most games played by anyone in Italy's top flight.

Sarri could include Federico Bernardeschi, who has returned to training after a short lay-off, but warned the Italy attacking midfielder is not yet ready to play a full 90 minutes.

Maurizio Sarri explained his decision to rest Cristiano Ronaldo for Juventus' 2-0 victory over Brescia, saying the 35-year-old forward "cannot play 75 games" a year.

Ronaldo was left out of the squad after scoring 10 goals in his previous six Serie A appearances to take his tally to 20 this season, but Paulo Dybala and Juan Cuadrado found the net in his absence on Sunday.

Sarri was also without injured quartet Douglas Costa, Federico Bernardeschi, Sami Khedira, and Merih Demiral, but Giorgio Chiellini made his first appearance since August as a second-half substitute.

Juve boss Sarri felt Portugal star Ronaldo needed time to put his feet up given the workload he has for club and country.

Sarri said: "It is difficult; we have many strong players and some are out.

"They are all atypical players, without a specific role. We have many situations to fix.

"Ronaldo is a centre-forward who starts off-centre. Today Cristiano had to rest; he cannot play 75 games there a year between the national team and the club, so we decided to let him recover."

On Chiellini, he added: "He put himself in the team. He had said it since yesterday. He made six months of great sacrifices."

Sarri admitted his side's performance against Brescia left plenty of room for improvement after seeing the Serie A champions pick up only their second win in five matches.

Defeats to Napoli and Hellas Verona either side of a victory over Fiorentina preceded Juve's 1-1 Coppa Italia draw with Milan ahead of the win over Brescia on Sunday, and they face SPAL on Saturday with Ronaldo set to play his 1,000th career game.

"We can improve on everything," said Sarri.

"On a defensive level we have room for improvement. We also have room for improvement in attack.

"We have hit the post five times in the last two games, so a little more luck would help us. We must focus on ourselves, instead of looking to others."

After 37 minutes at the Allianz Stadium, Brescia could at least be grateful Maurizio Sarri had spared them the torment of trying to contain Cristiano Ronaldo.

Serie A's second-bottom side had just been reduced to 10 men, forward Florian Aye bounding untidily into Aaron Ramsey with the enthusiasm and poise of a Labrador puppy to earn a second booking in the space of three and a half minutes.

The visitors were already operating with their third-choice goalkeeper between the posts, an early head injury having accounted for Jesse Joronen's understudy Enrico Alfonso and thrusting Lorenzo Andrenacci into an unexpected top-flight debut.

It meant opportunity knocked for Gonzalo Higuain and Paulo Dybala, the Argentina duo who were leading the Juve attack as Ronaldo, who has scored in every appearance in 2020, enjoyed a well-earned rest.

Higuain and Dybala have had to tailor their games this term under Sarri, operating within a significantly different tactical setup and very much at Ronaldo's service.

Nevertheless, the gulf in Serie A goal returns from the trio heading into the weekend was stark: Ronaldo boasting a haul of 20 in 2019-20 set against five apiece for his two attacking colleagues.

As Juve resume their pursuit of that elusive Champions League crown and contend with Inter's unflinching challenge domestically, it would be preferable to see the burden shared more equitably – irrespective of Ronaldo's superpowers showing little sign of fading.

Higuain offered a demonstration of his underrated selflessness just after the half hour, stealing in front of Ales Mateju and cutting an inviting ball back across goal. It laid on the sort of chance Ronaldo has gleefully gobbled up time and again over recent weeks, but Dybala failed to adjust to the bounce and skewed woefully wide from eight yards.

Aye's indiscretion allowed him to make amends in style, lifting a delicate free-kick beyond Andrenacci.

Higuain and Dybala each went close with fine angled strikes before the break but, not for the first time over recent weeks, a presumed formality for Sarri's men became a bit of a slog.

Brescia's defending was often of the last-ditch variety – Stefano Sabelli showing great poise to clear off the line and deny Higuain before Birkir Bjarnason bravely denied Dybala at the end of a slaloming run – although their Iceland midfielder fired a presentable half-chance over from 20 yards in the 72nd minute.

It required the more unheralded member of Sarri's Ronaldo-less trident, Juan Cuadrado, to make the points safe. Cuadrado found a cute finish after a clever one-two with substitute Blaise Matuidi.

Like Dybala's, this was another goal wonderfully easy on the eye. The concern for Juventus and their coach is they are increasingly reliant on such moments of magic or Ronaldo's enduring brilliance. Sarrismo is yet to fully take hold in Turin, with the collective frequently underwhelming.

Higuain had a header ruled out for offside and Dybala crashed against the crossbar late on, meaning Inter's goal difference remains five better than Juve's ahead of Sunday's blockbuster clash with third-placed Lazio in Rome.

For the fine-margins battle ahead, it is hard to escape the feeling Juventus need more than the sporadic flashes of brilliance that are just about sustaining them at present.

Paulo Dybala scored his sixth Serie A goal of the season and Juan Cuadrado was also on target as Juventus earned a 2-0 victory over 10-man Brescia that moved the Bianconeri top of Serie A ahead of Inter's evening kick-off at Lazio.

With in-form Cristiano Ronaldo rested by head coach Maurizio Sarri, Argentina international Dybala provided the firepower the champions needed from a first-half free-kick after Brescia forward Florian Aye was sent off.

Sarri's men were guilty of wasteful finishing against their 19th-placed visitors, who might have ground out a point towards their battle against relegation had they kept 11 men on the field, but Cuadrado kept his cool to double their lead after 75 minutes.

It was far from a vintage performance, but two goals proved enough to earn Juve a first win in three matches and relieve some of the pressure mounting around Sarri's position.

Giorgio Chiellini's appearance as a second-half substitute following a long injury lay-off also boosted the home crowd.

An early clash with Gonzalo Higuain left Brescia goalkeeper Enrico Alfonso unable to continue and he was replaced by the club's third-choice stopper Lorenzo Andrenacci after nine minutes.

But Brescia's impressive first half fell apart 10 minutes before the interval.

Aye brought down Aaron Ramsey on the edge of the box and received his second yellow card in four minutes, before Dybala curled a sublime free-kick into the left corner of the net with Andrenacci rooted to the spot.

Andrenacci kept the deficit to one goal at the break with a superb one-handed save, turning a Daniele Rugani header onto the crossbar when the Juve defender looked certain to score.

Leonardo Bonucci was denied early in the second half, Andrenacci parrying the Italy international's powerful header away from danger.

Dybala danced through the Brescia box after 66 minutes only to have his shot from 12 yards blocked by Birkir Bjarnason.

Bjarnason blazed over the crossbar when the ball fell to him unmarked on the edge of the box moments before Cuadrado made sure of the victory, playing a neat one-two with Blaise Matuidi and applying a cool, dinked finish past Andrenacci from six yards out.

Higuain saw a header disallowed for offside late on and Dybala hit the bar right at the death, with Juventus comfortable in the end.

What does it mean? Sarri keeps Pep talk on hold

A run of two defeats in three Serie A games handed the title race initiative to Inter and led to speculation that Pep Guardiola could replace Sarri at the end of the season.

While unspectacular, this win steadied the ship and reassured Juve supporters that their side are not reliant on Ronaldo to keep them winning.

Dybala does the business

It was an all-action performance from Dybala, who linked up with Cuadrado and Higuain to great effect throughout, took his goal superbly and rattled the crossbar with his rising drive on the stroke of full-time.

Clumsy Aye costs Brescia

Just four minutes after being booked for a needless foul on Danilo, Aye got his legs tangled up with Ramsey in a dangerous position, got himself sent off and conceded the free-kick from which Dybala scored.

What's next?

Ronaldo is in line to play his 1,000th career match as Juventus travel to Ferrara to face SPAL on Saturday, with Brescia hosting Napoli on Friday.

Maurizio Sarri believes Jurgen Klopp is "shaking off the burden" of Liverpool attempting to win the Champions League for a second straight season by claiming Juventus are favourites to lift the trophy. 

As well as tipping them for glory in Europe, Klopp also revealed his surprised at Juve not being clear in the Serie A title race, with Sarri's side level on points with Antonio Conte's Inter at the summit.

However, Sarri suggested the German is only highlighting the Bianconeri's strengths to relieve the pressure on his own players, with Liverpool set to take on Atletico Madrid in the last 16.

"Jurgen also said that he doesn't watch much Italian football, so that explains his confusion!" Sarri told a news conference ahead of Juve's clash with Brescia.

"Jurgen is one of the smartest and funniest people I've ever known and what he's doing here is shaking off the burden of being the favourites for the Champions League.

"It was clear from the very start that this would be a different type of season. I think it's motivating to be in a title race to the very end, so I feel we have to feed off this situation.

"No single match is decisive. We just have to focus on ourselves and picking up as many points as possible."

Manchester City, meanwhile, were handed a two-season ban from European competition by UEFA on Friday for a breach of Financial Fair Play regulations.

While they are to appeal their suspension, already there is speculation over City's star players leaving the club, along with Pep Guardiola, but Sarri does not think the punishment will lead to a mass exodus from the Etihad Stadium.

"I went to Chelsea last season and they weren't in the Champions League. I was happy to do it," Sarri said.

"This is also the first stage of the process, there will be appeals and we'll see what the definitive verdict is, but there are situations where a coach can look beyond those limitations."

Maurizio Sarri said Juventus' "growth has stalled" but the under-fire head coach is not worried after the Serie A champions snatched a draw against Milan in the Coppa Italia.

Cristiano Ronaldo's controversial 90th-minute penalty saw Juve escape with a 1-1 draw away to 10-man Milan in the first leg of their semi-final showdown on Thursday.

Coming off a shock defeat at Hellas Verona, which allowed Inter to move top of the Serie A table last week, Juve were far from their best again as Milan impressed.

Ante Rebic's 61st-minute opener looked set to be enough for Milan to secure first-leg honours, until Davide Calabria was harshly penalised for a handball at the death – Ronaldo making no mistake from the spot.

Juve have only won one of their past four matches in all competitions but Sarri is not unconcerned as pressure mounts amid links to former coach Massimiliano Allegri.

"I am not worried, as the only real worries in life are your health. It seems a normal phase to be going through, it's unthinkable for a team to be in a continual ascent," Sarri told Rai Sport.

"This is a sport and so much depends on the physical and psychological conditions of so many players.

"Our growth has stalled a little in the last three weeks, we concede avoidable goals. Having said that, we've conceded only three more than the best defence in Serie A, so it's not that much of an issue."

Sarri added: "We did better in terms of our passing and playing out from the back but were lacking in the final third. It's a process and we are continuing.

"We have conceded some avoidable goals, for example today the cross was quite slow and - in my view - easy to defend. We were coming off a bad performance in Verona, but picked up a positive result, especially as it's the first leg."

Juve – 13-time Coppa Italia winners – will welcome Milan to Turin for the return leg on March 4.

The Italian Post Office delivered a stern rebuke to Maurizio Sarri after the Juventus head coach said he would have taken a job at the postal service if he wanted to avoid pressure.

Sarri has come under fire following Juve's shock defeat to Hellas Verona last week, which allowed Serie A rivals Inter to move top of the table on goal difference.

There have also been reports former boss Massimiliano Allegri could be brought back to Turin, where ex-Chelsea and Napoli coach Sarri is only in his first season at the helm.

Preparing for Thursday's Coppa Italia semi-final first leg at Milan, Sarri was asked about the pressure and he told reporters, "If I hadn't wanted to be under scrutiny, I would have applied to work at the post office."

Those comments angered the Italian Post Office, which furiously hit back on Wednesday.

The statement read: "With regards to the comment by Maurizio Sarri, 'If I had wanted to avoid tough tests I'd have worked at the Post Office', Poste Italiane invite Mr Sarri to dedicate a few minutes of his precious time to educate himself on the fact the Post Office is the biggest company in the country.

"It is chosen by young graduates as one of the most attractive companies to work for, that it is recognised among the top 500 companies in the world for quality of working life, that it has one of the best performances on the stock exchange in 2019 and is in third place, on the global scale, among Italian companies for image and reputation.

"The tests therefore – contrary to what Mr Sarri maintains – are certainly there for Post Office staff and the company answers to citizens, businesses and public administrations.

"We invite him to view our daily work in person at one of our 15,000 operative offices."

 

Maurizio Sarri has vowed the pressure on his work at Juventus is "normal" and said he always fully expected president Andrea Agnelli to scrutinise his results.

The head coach had dinner at the weekend with Agnelli and sporting director Fabio Paratici, in the wake of Saturday's 2-1 defeat to Hellas Verona.

Juventus also suffered a rare loss at Napoli in late January.

There have been claims that Juventus could look to bring back Massimiliano Allegri, who has not moved on to a new job since leaving the Turin giants at the end of last season.

Allegri delivered five successive Serie A titles, but the club's run of eight in a row is coming under threat from Inter, who head Juventus on goal difference after 23 games.

Sarri stressed the dinner meeting had been long planned, and was initially due to take place on February 2 after the Fiorentina game.

In a news conference, he quipped: "If I hadn't wanted to be under scrutiny I would have applied to work at the post office."

Sarri added: "I see the president often, and every now and then we go out for dinner. It was something that was already planned. Andrea says he wants to introduce me to the best restaurants in Turin, but we never talk about a single game, rather about everything.

"It is normal that my work is always under scrutiny. We are in February and we are fighting for every competition, which is in line with the initial goals. It is clear that we come from a bad game, but with external rather than internal repercussions."

While the meeting at restaurant Il Bastimento triggered speculation in Italy, Sarri, in his first season at the club, is determined to prove he can meet the demands of his job.

Juventus are entering a crunch stage of their season, beginning with Thursday's Coppa Italia semi-final first leg at Milan.

They face Lyon in the Champions League last 16, with the first leg in France on February 26, before a March 1 date with Inter that could be pivotal in the Serie A title race.

Maurizio Sarri warned Juventus they cannot afford to throw away points as they did in Saturday's 2-1 Serie A defeat to Hellas Verona after becoming "accustomed to winning" over the past few years.

Juve appeared set to open up a six-point gap at the top of the table when Cristiano Ronaldo scored for a club-record 10th successive league match in the 65th minute.

But Fabio Borini levelled with a clever finish 14 minutes from time and Giampaolo Pazzini completed the unlikely turnaround late on, converting a penalty after Leonardo Bonucci had deflected Marash Kumbulla's header onto the crossbar with his arm.

If Inter and Lazio win on Sunday, a solitary point will separate the top three in Serie A, and Sarri had forceful words at full-time.

"This team has been accustomed to winning comfortably over recent years and we need to get it into our heads that we cannot afford to waste points," Sarri told DAZN.

"Hopefully we'll learn the lesson, because we have been talking about it for quite a while. It's difficult, because the team trains well but then can't rise to its full potential during matches. We have to find a resolution to this.

"The mind is most important. If that's not engaged then you aren't going to be on the mark tactically. Similarly, if your mind is also not 100 per cent engaged, then the physical stuff won't follow either.

"We need to realise that winning cannot to be taken for granted. We must work harder, get dirty when we need to and not relax.

"Verona deserve immense credit for the first 30 minutes, but we deserve the blame for the final half-hour. They showed great intensity – we didn't, it's that simple."

The defeat was Juve's second in three games and third in their previous five away league matches. 

Giorgio Chiellini is close to making his Juventus return, head coach Maurizio Sarri has confirmed.

The 35-year-old had surgery in September on a ruptured cruciate ligament and was ruled out for six months.

Sarri hopes to have Chiellini ready to return as soon as the experienced centre-back feels physically comfortable, with Juve entering a potentially decisive part of the season in which they play five games in 16 days.

The Bianconeri head to Hellas Verona in Serie A on Saturday before two games next week, including a Coppa Italia clash with Milan on February 13. The first leg of the Champions League last-16 tie against Lyon is on February 26.

"He's proceeding as scheduled. Giorgio is alternating between individual and team training," Sarri said to reporters.

"The progress that he is making is very important. The most important thing right now is to listen to what he says to us. Clinically, he is totally healed. All that matters now is how he feels."

Sarri has no concerns about the fitness of Cristiano Ronaldo, who turned 35 this week and struggled in the first part of the season with a knee problem.

"Cristiano was in excellent condition in today's training and has been ever since he got over his knee trouble," he said.

Sarri plans to give more playing time to Adrien Rabiot, who has started four Serie A games in 2020 after starting just five times in the league before the turn of the year.

However, he insists Blaise Matuidi will have an important role to play during the remainder of the season.

"Rabiot is improving a lot and is in a very good moment, so I've picked him rather than other midfielders, but we can't forget who Matuidi is and what strengths he has," said Sarri.

"In the long run, Matuidi is one of those players who is always useful. This is just one period; there are lots of games to play.

"But now, I honestly think we have to give this guy [Rabiot] some consistency. He's finding confidence and form. I think he can improve further. I think it's important now to let him play four or five games to find consistency."

Jorginho's agent has suggested his client could leave Chelsea at the end of the season, claiming a reunion with Maurizio Sarri at Juventus is a possibility.

Italy international Jorginho joined Chelsea in 2018, following Sarri to Stamford Bridge from Napoli.

He was a key figure under the Italian coach, starting in 37 Premier League games during his debut campaign in England.

The midfielder has also been a regular under Frank Lampard this season, scoring four goals in 23 league outings so far.

However, his representative – Joao Santos – is expecting offers for the player during the next transfer window, despite still having another three years to run on his contract.

"Why not?" Santos told Tuttomercatoweb when asked if Jorginho could leave Chelsea.

"I am sure that some important proposals will come, which we would obviously evaluate together with Chelsea."

However, Santos made clear Jorginho's main priority once he has completed domestic duties with Chelsea is representing Italy at Euro 2020.

"His goal is the European Championships with the national team," Santos said.

"There are many expectations around [Roberto] Mancini's team. The European Championship is also a good showcase.

"Even personally, he is doing very well at Chelsea, and I am sure that some important proposals will come because in his role there are not many high-level players like him around."

Juventus boss Maurizio Sarri ruled out fielding a front four as he warned it would mean having to rein in Cristiano Ronaldo.

Sarri was speaking after his team beat Fiorentina 3-0 with a pair of Ronaldo penalties to firm up top spot in Serie A.

Matthijs de Ligt headed the third goal in the final moments, on a day when Juventus began with Paulo Dybala as a substitute, Sarri preferring a front three of Douglas Costa with Ronaldo and Gonzalo Higuain.

Sarri earlier this season played down talk of regularly fielding an attacking three but has since often done so; however, talk of playing four forwards together was dismissed by the former Chelsea boss.

"We have many attacking players at an extraordinary level," Sarri said. "There are many solutions but they are not simple to put together."

Speaking of Costa, Sarri said: "I preferred to go with him to give us more width. When you leave out someone like Dybala you have bitterness, it's a blasphemy. But I have to deal with balance."

Asked about playing all four attackers together, Sarri added, according to Gazzetta dello Sport: "You'd have to sacrifice the characteristics of these players, starting with Ronaldo who would really have to stay out wide. It would be a waste."

Juventus bounced back well from the defeat at Napoli in their previous game, with Ronaldo reaching 50 goals for the club.

De Ligt said on the Juventus website: "It was the answer that we had to give. In the first half, we had some difficulties against a compact team, then we stepped it up."

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