Maurizio Sarri hailed his side’s character but ended up counting the cost of a goalless draw at Fiorentina after taking charge of Juventus for the first time.
The former Chelsea coach had missed Juve’s first two games of the season due to a bout of pneumonia but he watched prospective injury problems pile up at the Stadio Artemio Franchi.
Danilo, Douglas Costa and Miralem Pjanic were all forced off early due to muscle issues with Pjanic, in particular, now a doubt for his side’s Champions League trip to Atletico Madrid on Wednesday.
Sarri told a press conference: “For Miralem it (facing Madrid) could be a minor problem but we will see tomorrow morning.”
Juve’s failure to put away their lowly opponents was a source of frustration for Sarri, who insisted they are still finding their feet after injuries and international duty.
Sarri added: “There had been a physical decline in the first two games, but then this summer we had several players at the Copa America and others in the infirmary.
“It has taken time to get them into the rhythm of the game. We need to grow a lot in terms of quality, tactics and athletics.
“It was not a high-level game from a technical point of view and the situation was made complicated by changes we used to replace the injured players.
“Having fresh players in the final stages of the game would have been important. I am aware that a team with less character would lose such a game.”
Provided by Press Association Sport
In an interview with the Catalan newspaper Sport this week, Messi said the return of Neymar, who was at Barca from 2013 and 2017 when he left for Paris Saint-Germain, could only strengthen the Spanish champions.
“I would be thrilled if Neymar came back,” said the Argentine.
“I understand that not everyone agrees. That’s normal after everything that happened around Ney, the way in which he left, the way he abandoned us.
“But when you look at the sporting angle, for me Neymar is one of the best players in the world and obviously would improve our chances of getting the results we want.”
The Brazilian looked set to return to Camp Nou during the summer transfer window, just two years on from his departure to PSG for a record €222 million.
In two seasons with the Parisians, Neymar has scored 51 goals in 58 appearances and, after an on-off soap opera, ultimately stayed in the French capital, at least for the time being.
“I am not disappointed,” said Messi. “I would have liked it if he had come and been with us but, as I have said, we have an exceptional squad to challenge for every title, even without him.”
Messi denied reports he had used his influence to try and force the Barcelona board to push through the deal.
“Here, it is not me that gives the orders,” he said. “We never said that he had to be brought in. We didn’t make any demands.”
“I don’t know if the club (Barcelona) wanted it to happen. What I do know is that Neymar really wanted it. But I understand it is very difficult to negotiate with PSG.”
Former Barcelona and Inter Milan star Samuel Eto’o has announced on social media his retirement from football after 22-years as a professional player.
The 38-year-old former Cameroonian international played for 13 clubs but started his career with a brief period at Real Madrid, before moving to Mallorca then Barcelona, where he played for five years and won three La Liga titles and two Champions League trophies.
After his success at Barca, Inter Milan came knocking and a swap deal for Zlatan Ibrahimovic was agreed.
At Inter and under Jose Mourinho, Eto’o won Serie A and the Champions League trophy in 2010.
Eto’o then arrived in the Premier League and played for Chelsea and Everton.
He then played for Sampdoria, Antalyaspor, Konyaspor and Qatar SC before finally hanging his boots on Friday.