Claudio Ranieri, who has come under increasing pressure amid Juventus’ faltering start to the season, paid tribute to the “spirit, heart and great skill” his Juventus players displayed in defeating Real Madrid 2-1 to move top of Group H.
The under-fire coach singled out the contribution his experienced players gave to a Bianconeri squad beset by injuries.
Goals from Alessandro Del Piero and Amauri were enough to secure three valuable points for the Italian side against the Spanish champions, for whom Ruud van Nistelrooy replied.
“Tonight we finally got a bit of luck after a series of unfortunate games recently,” said Ranieri.
“I’m very glad because my players proved that they never give up. In order to face Real Madrid you have to be in top condition and we aren’t at the moment, plus we’re missing several players due to injury so it was normal that we suffered when they pushed forward in the second half.
“However my players showed spirit, heart and great skill. We had a lot of help from our champions with the most experience tonight. Nedved for example, was marvellous when I moved him into the centre of midfield after Marchisio’s injury – he played really well.
Ranieri refused to get carried away with the victory, as he paid tribute to the spirit within the squad.
“The problems we had are still there but tonight we confirmed that our squad is very united. I have never coached a group like this one. I have a great relationship with my players. If we continue working hard like this we can surely end this difficult period. We have many promising players and some great champions who give their best in matches like this one.”
Ranieri’s counterpart, Bernd Schuster, admitted he was not surprised by Juve’s response given their recent run of disappointing results.
“Unfortunately, tonight we didn’t manage to do what we had done in our last few away games; score in the first few minutes,” said Schuster.
“Juventus didn’t really surprise us with their strong approach in the early part of the game, but they were faster than us to the ball and got the lead. After 20 minutes things started to get better for us and our game improved, but they were still winning 1-0.
“It was no surprise that Juventus started in such a way because they have had some poor results in recent matches and so were eager to show their strength.
“Tonight we lost the match and first place in the group, so we have to focus on next match against Juventus and try to beat them in Madrid. With a victory at the Bernabeu, it will be easier for us to reach the knockout phase.