Juventus coach Andrea Pirlo criticised his players’ attitude and said they could not have performed worse after their 2-0 defeat at Serie A title rivals Inter Milan on Sunday.
Arturo Vidal and Nicolo Barella struck in each half to give a dominant Inter their first league win against the Turin club since September 2016 to leave Juve seven points off the top.
“Our attitude was wrong from the start,” Pirlo told Sky Italia. “If you don’t have the anger to win the duels in these matches, it becomes difficult. We never stepped foot on the pitch.
“It was an ugly match because we weren’t expecting it. We couldn’t have done worse than this.”
The gap between Juve in fifth and leaders AC Milan will be extended to 10 points if the Rossoneri beat Cagliari on Monday. Inter are second, level on 40 points with Milan.
Pirlo thus has a big task in the second half of the season as he looks to guide Juve to a 10th straight league title.
“Our ambitions remain the same,” he said. “It’s a slip-up against a strong opponent. These things can happen over a long season, but you can’t have this attitude at a team like Juventus.
“We had to come here with a certain ambition of playing our own game and instead we were too fearful.”
Inter coach Antonio Conte, who Pirlo played under at Juventus as they won three league titles together between 2011 and 2014, was pleased to get his first top flight managerial win against his former employers at the fourth attempt.
“To win against a team like Juventus, who are an important reference point in Italy, you need to play a perfect match,” Conte said.
“The players did well to put what we prepared out on the pitch and I’m very happy for them as these games raise your self-confidence and let you know you’re on the right track.
“They knew that Juventus have dominated for nine years. The gap between them and the others still exists, but we’re working to reduce it from every point of view.”