Maurizio Sarri accused Juventus of lacking ‘brain and soul’ and making ‘daft errors’ as the reigning champions lost top spot in Serie A with a 2-2 draw at home to midtable Sassuolo, adding that he spoke to the team ‘for 30 seconds’ in the dressing room afterwards.
Centre-back Leonardo Bonucci’s 20th-minute opener was cancelled out within three minutes as Jeremie Boga replied for the 13th-placed visitors, who started the day three points above the relegation zone.
Sassuolo capitalized on calamitous defending to go ahead two minutes after the break through Francesco Caputo, leaving Sarri perplexed and Juve needing a 68th-minute Cristiano Ronaldo penalty to salvage a point at the Allianz Stadium.
Sarri accepted his team were tired after the midweek Champions League win at home to Atletico Madrid and the 3-1 win at Atalanta eight days ago, when they also fell behind, but told DAZN:
‘We should have played with greater care, especially in the first half.
‘It wasn’t a bad game, even though in the first half we made mistakes, were stretched too much and gave too much space away every time we lost the ball.
‘The build-up play was slow too – the midfield movements were off. I think it was because we were coming off two very stressful games and it wasn’t easy to recharge the batteries.
‘We lost the ball cheaply and made some really daft errors, conceding a goal because we were too sluggish tracking back.’
Sarri praised Ronaldo for his ‘improving’ play in the ‘defensive phase’ and said he had introduced Aaron Ramsey, who came off the bench alongside Paulo Dybala and Blaise Matuidi, to ‘bring back a little solidity.’
‘Once Sassuolo managed to pass the ball, you could tell we were struggling,’ admitted Sarri.
‘The second half was different and after going behind we reacted strongly. The reaction came at the end and we could even have won it.’
Lamenting the succession of errors that led to Gianluigi Buffon’s fumble for Sassuolo’s second goal, Sarri said:
‘It was an incredible series of mistakes, from a bad back-pass to another that hit a Sassuolo player. When you aren’t fully focused, a howler can happen.’
Juve are now a point behind Inter Milan at the Serie A summit after Lautaro Martinez repeated his midweek Champions League double against Slavia Prague to help Antonio Conte win 2-1 at home to SPAL.
The Bianconeri remain unbeaten in all competitions this season, although their six-match winning run has come to an end.