Massimiliano Allegri called on Juventus to improve their calmness and clinical finishing as he conceded his team cannot compete with Serie A title contenders Milan, Inter and Napoli.
Juve dominated for large periods against Inter in the Derby d’Italia, but Hakan Calhanoglu’s penalty practically ended the Bianconeri’s hopes for a late Scudetto surge following a remarkable unbeaten streak.
With Allegri’s side also crashing out at the Champions League last-16 stage to Villarreal, their hopes of silverware hang on their Coppa Italia run, where they hold a 1-0 first-leg semi-final advantage over Fiorentina.
Allegri urged his team to improve on Saturday when they visit Cagliari, who have lost 10 of their last 11 league meetings with Juve – failing to score in eight of those games.
“There is just one possible reaction. Play good games. Tomorrow’s match will be very different from the one against Inter,” Allegri told reporters at Friday’s pre-match news conference.
“It’s never easy to win in Cagliari and we must be prepared, knowing the opponents, and their moment. We must win games, that’s the only thing we must think about.
“Our target is to finish in the top four. For now, we are there, but Roma are close [five points behind]. That’s why we need a great performance tomorrow. We can take no risks, we need to adapt to the game.
“We played the best games against Atalanta, Villarreal and Inter at home, but we were not clinical enough. We need to improve and be more calm in those situations.
“I can understand errors in one or two games, but three is an important number and that’s why we need to improve.
“I’ve analysed what I saw against Inter. I always think about what the team is doing. We deserve to be fourth. We need to work to improve and we can improve before the end of the season.
“We can work on the development of individual footballers and we have more time because we’ll play one game per week, except the Coppa Italia semi-final with Fiorentina.
“I don’t like compliments, otherwise, we become a team that is satisfied with compliments and finds excuses. I don’t want excuses or compliments, I want victories.”
Paulo Dybala will leave Turin when his contract expires at the end of the season but the Argentina international has continued to feature despite a breakdown in talks.
Allegri will hope his striker can deliver and remain committed to the cause against Cagliari, given Dybala has scored six of his eight goals in the league this season against teams in the lower half of the table.
“We have time to work during the week but at the same time, we have targets,” he continued.
“Every player in the team must give his contribution and help us reach a top-four finish, regardless of their future. We have five or six players with a contract expiring. Right now, we must focus on the pitch and on getting results.
“I think Juventus have created a lot in the last three or four months. We haven’t scored much and we must be more efficient up front.
“Had we won against Inter, we would have had a small chance [to win the title], but now we need to focus on our target. We are fourth and we deserved so, when we were 10th, we deserve to be 10th. The rest doesn’t count.”