Juventus assistant manager Giovanni Martusciello explained Gonzalo Higuain is “on the same level as Paulo Dybala” and Maurizio Sarri has “improved” in recent years.
Giorgio Chiellini got the only goal in a 1-0 victory away to Parma today, although they were struggling a little late on.
“It was hot out there and led to quite a few errors, but in the first half it was a good performance against a tough Parma side on their own turf,” Martusciello told Sky Sport Italia.
“Above all, we did well to avoid the situations on the counter-attack where Parma are very strong. There was a dip in intensity after the break and that made it a more even game.
“The first match of the season always has question marks and we could’ve done better with the first half chances, but overall that is fine.”
Martusciello was on the bench because Sarri is undergoing treatment for pneumonia and won’t be ready for next week’s match against Napoli either.
Sarri and his staff surprised with their starting XI in Parma, picking Higuain rather than Dybala and no summer signings at all.
“This is a team full of champions. Choices must be made and today we opted for the more experienced players, but it’s a long season with many tournaments and we’ll need everyone.
“I think the choice was made because Higuain has more experience in that centre-forward role. Taking a gamble in the first game of the season would’ve been unnecessary, while Pipita had also been doing very well in training over the last few days.
“Right now, Higuain is on the same level as Dybala, they are interchangeable and it depends on how various players and their characteristics combine.
“Parma are difficult to beat here, as shown by the last 10 Juventus visits, which were always tight and hard-fought. The important thing was to win and we did that.”
Martusciello worked with Sarri at Empoli, then split off only to reunite this season in Turin, so has he changed?
“I heard from Sarri at half-time and then at the final whistle, so he was happier at the end, but being an eternal perfectionist, he was still quite angry!
“Sarri has improved since I last worked with him. He smokes less, for a start, and that is definitely an improvement! He also is more hands-on with the players and training, whereas before he would often delegate to his staff.
“He can get distracted by other issues off the field, but I saw him more focused on the important things.”