Max Allegri praises €80m man as Juventus struggle in knockout stages

Old Lady coach Max Allegri was happy despite his side’s 1-1 away draw at Villarreal in the UEFA Champions League knockout tie first leg on Tuesday evening.

Juventus came into the match in strong form with just one defeat in 16 matches across all competitions. It then took Dusan Vlahovic just 32 seconds to score on his debut in the Champions League to hand Juve a 1-0 lead. Villarreal hit back after 66 minutes as Adrien Rabiot lost Dani Parejo for a costly equaliser. The result means Juventus need a win at home when the pair meet again in three weeks time.

Allegri told Mediaset in his post-match interview: “Overall, I’d say the team played well, we risked conceding in the first half, then had chances to score and were caught offside too easily, they had a very high line.

“There was a really good opportunity late on, their goalkeeper made a good save. Now the away goals rule has been abolished, it’s basically a final. We have to win, there’s no other option!

“It was a game we had to play this way, trying to spread the play, as they brought it into the centre. Unfortunately, we tried to be a bit too pretty and then lost our determination.

“I would prefer to see a Juve that is winning, but less pretty. It’s a matter of taste.”

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Allegri praises striker Vlahovic

The Juventus boss went on to praise his €80m Serbia striker Vlahovic. He latched onto a long pass from Danilo and fired into the bottom corner in the opening minute.

The coach said of his striker: “I am happy he played well, as it is not easy against Raul Albiol.

“This is a Champions League Round of 16, Villarreal have experience, technique and are in good shape, so we couldn’t think of coming here and winning 3-0.

“We have to take things slowly, one step at a time.”

Vlahovic himself spoke to the media, saying: “My dream has come true at Juve, but I am not happy because we didn’t win and we all really wanted the victory today. It didn’t happen, so we move forward.

“I think we did what we had prepared in the locker room, but of course a lot depends on the opponents. We congratulate Villarreal on their performance, we tried to continue the way we started.

“I have personally already forgotten this match, we just have to look forward to the next game.”

Rabiot criticised for costly error

Allegri went on to discuss the role played by Rabiot in Villarreal’s equaliser. The French midfielder was also very fortunate not to be red carded for raking his studs into Samuel Chukwueze’s knee.

Allegri warned his team about the type of run that led to the goal, saying: “It was a decisive error, because we were coming off a situation where Vlahovic was half-fouled, we sort of stopped, they sort of stopped, Parejo was left totally alone in the box.

“They had no centre-forward, so couldn’t do long balls. We knew that we had to be wary of these situations. It was six against one, Rabiot didn’t follow him and we stayed still. We should’ve done better.”

READ MORE: Dusan Vlahovic makes dream Champions League debut but Juventus pegged back by Villarreal