Nothing pleases Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri and his players more than a good defensive display.
The Serie A leaders now boast both the best attack as well as the meanest defence in the league but it is the latter statistic which fills Allegri with the most pride.
Juventus, chasing a seventh successive title, beat Atalanta 2-0 on Wednesday to move four points clear at the top of the table and have yet to let in a Serie A goal this year.
Verona were the last team to breach Juve’s rearguard on December 30 and, in all, they have conceded 15 goals in 28 games while scoring 67, one more than Lazio. Bet Now NaijaBet
“Which statistic do I prefer most? Having the best defence,” Allegri told reporters after Wednesday’s win.
Allegri said he was delighted to see goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon and defender Giorgio Chiellini celebrate a key intervention as if they had scored a goal, just as they did in the Champions League win at Tottenham Hotspur a week ago.
“Enthusiasm is important and it’s wonderful to see Buffon and Chiellini like that, even after everything they’ve won. It means they’ve still got the same hunger,” he said. “This team enjoys defending and that’s a crucial part of the sport.”
Juve’s next match is away to lowly SPAL on Saturday when they could deal the psychological blow of opening up a seven-point lead over rivals Napoli, who have to wait until Sunday evening for their match at home to Genoa.
It is a familiar story for fans of other teams who have become used to seeing Juventus weather a bumpy patch earlier in the season to hit form just at the right time.
The Turin side are exactly where they want to be in mid-March, leading Serie A and qualified for the Coppa Italia final – where they face AC Milan – and Champions League quarterfinals.
“The whole squad has the same aim which is to win the seventh Scudetto, go forward in the Champions League and win the Coppa Italia,” Allegri added.
He was also delighted to note that his team had been unaffected by rotation.
“The good thing is we made five or six changes to the side on Sunday and we did the same again today but the result didn’t change. We want to go all the way together,” he said.
Allegri warned, however, that the race was still far from over with Napoli still to visit Juventus in April.
“We mustn’t start thinking the Scudetto is suddenly in the bag,” he said. “It’s a decisive stage of the season but we must take things one step at a time, keep our heads and replenish our mental energy. You have to keep raising the bar in every game.”