Pirlo howls at Juve play: We shouldn’t need a ‘slap’

Juventus should not require a slap to wake up even if the atmosphere at grounds is soporific, coach Andrea Pirlo said after the Serie A champions stumbled to a 1-1 draw against Hellas Verona on Sunday.

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Pirlo said he could understand players might be influenced by appearing in near-empty stadiums during the COVID-19 pandemic but added that it was something they would have to adapt to.

“We played a wait-and-see game in the first half, we were not aggressive in midfield although we had the best chances,” said Pirlo, whose side fell behind after an hour.

“There was a good reaction after their goal but we shouldn’t need a slap to wake us up.”

“It’s one thing to play in the Champions League with a crowd that raises your levels of attention,” said Pirlo whose side host Barcelona in Europe’s elite competition on Wednesday.

“Tonight there was a more soporific atmosphere but you need more determination — these things win matches as well.”

Games against teams such as Verona and Atalanta were always difficult, he added.

“They get you involved in one-on-one battles all over the pitch,” he said. “We worked to avoid their high press and that worked better in the second half. It tough against them but we could have done better.”

Verona coach Ivan Juric was disappointed at his team’s performance in the closing stages.

“We did really well for an hour but then we fell away, we didn’t have the right energy,” said the Croatian who got into an angry altercation with the Juve bench at the final whistle.

“There were some insults and when I am insulted, I react,” he said. “But it stops there.”