Football News

Juve assistant boss admits De Ligt was found “lacking” during Napoli thriller

By Harry Edwards

Published: 15:44, 1 September 2019

Juventus assistant manager Giovanni Martusciello has admitted Matthijs de Ligt was found “lacking” in the closing stages of their 4-3 win over Napoli.

The Dutch centre-back made his Bianconeri debut on Saturday evening, replacing the injured captain Giorgio Chiellini in the hosts’ starting XI, but had a night to forget.

De Ligt’s Juventus debut: Five things to know…

  • De Ligt made his competitive Juventus debut in Saturday’s 4-3 win over Napoli.
  • The Dutch centre-back started in place of the injured Chiellini.
  • De Ligt had a debut to forget, playing a role in Napoli’s second and third goals.
  • But Juventus assistant manager Martusciello admits De Ligt was lacking condition in the match.
  • He also revealed Juventus had not planned to play De Ligt so early after his move.

Juventus scored twice in the opening 20 minutes to take control of the game and when Cristiano Ronaldo got the third in the 63rd minute, the match was expected to be over as a contest.

But Kostas Manolas pulled one back for Napoli before De Ligt found himself caught out twice as Carlo Ancelotti’s men looked to have completed a perfect comeback.

First, the Dutch centre-back was too casual in tracking back, allowing Hirving Lozano to run behind him to get onto the end of Piotr Zielinski’s low cross. Then he lost Giovanni Di Lorenzo from a free-kick, with the Napoli man equalising.

A Kalidou Koulibaly own goal earned the win for Juventus, though that did not save De Ligt from receiving criticism for his performance.

However, Juventus assistant manager Martusciello, who was standing in for the ill Maurizio Sarri on the touchline, believes De Ligt’s performance was due to a lack of condition rather than ability.

“De Ligt? He comes from a team that defended differently, in a league that is not the Italian one,” he told the club’s official website.

“He also played well for an hour, then his condition was lacking a bit. But he is a player of the highest level.”

Martusciello then added that Juventus hadn’t planned to play De Ligt so soon, but their hand was forced by Chiellini’s injury.

He added: “We had hoped for more time to get him settled, but unfortunately Giorgio Chiellini had that serious injury and changed the plans.”

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Martusciello: Changing Juventus style is “difficult”

Sarri’s arrival in the summer to replace Massimiliano Allegri brought with it a new era at Juventus, with a different style of play.

The former Chelsea and Napoli boss is known for trying to dominate games, moving the ball up the pitch quickly, a stark contrast to Allegri’s somewhat pragmatic tactics.

And Martusciello admits making the change has been difficult in the short time they have had so far.

“This team was built to defend deep and go on the counter, or at most keep possession inside our own half, which is very different to how we tend to play,” he added.

“It’s difficult to make that shift in a month, we worked on some characteristics of players and were pleasantly surprised – above all by Miralem Pjanic – that they were able to do what we asked.

“We are working a lot on playing out from the back, fortunately we have a lot of quality in the squad, but just need to adjust the passing lines and movements that they were not accustomed to. We need more belief and to keep going in that direction.”