Massimiliano Allegri has defended Maurizio Sarri after the Napoli boss came under fire from his president Aurelio De Laurentiis having lost to Real Madrid.
Napoli lost 3-1 at Santiago Bernabeu in the Champions League on Wednesday, prompting De Laurentiis to criticise the players’ determination while questioning Sarri’s tactics and use of the squad.
Serie A rivals Juventus are yet to play the first leg of their last-16 tie, with their away match against Porto taking place next Wednesday.
But Juve boss Allegri was an interested observer of the other matches this week and offered a staunch defence of Sarri as he spoke ahead of Friday’s Serie A match at Palermo.
"When you see these games there are always some tips you can take from them, things you can put into practice and learn – I enjoyed them a lot," said Allegri.
"The two Champions League days were good ones – there was absolute technical quality in the players and in the teams.
"Compliments to Napoli for the game they played. It was not easy to play against Madrid, especially for Napoli who don’t have a lot of continental experience.
"So they had a good game against a Real Madrid side which has players of the highest technical level. You just have to look at Luka Modric – with three passes out wide he put the ball at Cristiano Ronaldo’s feet.
"That was not about pressure, tactics or technique, just the technique of individual players and it is beautiful to see.
"But Napoli played a good match. De Laurentiis? I will never spout off about what a president can and can’t say.
"One thing I will say and repeat is that Sarri deserves compliments for the work he is doing in Naples and for Wednesday’s game because Napoli are not beaten yet – they have the opportunity to overturn the result at home.
"I repeat, Napoli played a good game, a top game, all things considered. They faced Real Madrid and that is important European experience."
. @OfficialAllegri : "Our objectives remain winning a 6th straight Scudetto and going all the way in the #CoppaItalia and @ChampionsLeague ."
— JuventusFC (@juventusfcen) February 16, 2017
Allegri thinks his Juve squad still have work to do if they are to reach the level of Europe’s best teams.
"Juventus need to improve," he said. "This is the time where we have to push hard to improve the quality of our play and the speed of our passing.
"We have excellent players and that is why we have to improve on this because only the team can take us forward in Europe.
"Just look at the level of Real Madrid and the difficulties Napoli encountered.
"Definitely on a mental level we have to be up there with Real, Paris Saint-Germain, Barcelona and Bayern Munich."