'I am a more complete player', claims Morata after matching his Champions League best

By Patric Ridge 25 November 2020 8
'I am a more complete player', claims Morata after matching his Champions League best

Alvaro Morata believes he is a "more complete player" since his return to Juventus, as he matched his best goals tally in a Champions League campaign.

Morata scored his fifth Champions League goal of the season on Tuesday, with his stoppage-time header – which was flapped at by Denes Dibusz – sealing a 2-1 win for Juve over Ferencvaros, and earning their progression to the last 16 with two Group G games to spare.

The Spain international has been in fine form since his move back to Juve, where he spent two seasons between 2014 and 2016 and scored 15 Serie A goals and registered 12 assists in that time.

In 2014-15, the forward scored five goals – his best haul in the competition – as Juve reached the Champions League final, where they were beaten by Barcelona.

After equalling that record with just four games gone, Morata, who also hit the post after coming on as a substitute in Turin, claimed he has become a far better all-round forward.

"Nothing changed in me, I said many times, you learn throughout your career. I am a more complete player now," the former Atletico Madrid, Chelsea and Real Madrid man told Sky Italia.

"When I was 22, I paid attention only when the ball came near me, but now I remain more focused and every ball can be decisive.

"I had another chance today that hit the upright. I was fortunate on the goal, unlucky on the earlier chance, so it all balances out."

Morata was not the only Juve player to equal a record against Ferencvaros, with Cristiano Ronaldo, who drilled in a 35th-minute equaliser to cancel out Myrto Uzuni's opener, drawing level with Lionel Messi on 70 home goals in the Champions League.

However, Juve were made to work for their victory, and though they managed 19 attempts, only seven were on target, with Dibusz making a string of impressive saves.

Andrea Pirlo's team also looked suspect at the back, and the Juve coach acknowledged it was far from a vintage display.

"We had intended to start with a different attitude, but we know there can be difficulties in games that seem on paper to be simple. We had to chase the game," Pirlo said.

"I expected more from the players, but Ferencvaros clammed up, we had to try to move the ball back and forth more quickly to spread them. We moved it too slowly, which made it easier for them to defend."

Pirlo also singled out Arthur – a recent acquisition from Barca – and Paulo Dybala as having put in particularly frustrating displays.

Arthur attempted 98 passes, though Pirlo stated: "He got a bit pig-headed today keeping hold of the ball and trying to find more direct through balls when he should've spread it wide and tried to spread the Ferencvaros defence.

"He should have opened up the game more to create one-on-one situations. If the ball moved too slowly, it allowed them to get back into position."

Dybala, meanwhile, had one good opportunity early on, but was replaced by the match-winner Morata with just over an hour gone.

"Dybala didn't do that well," said Pirlo. "He was injured and had to take antibiotics for weeks, so it's natural he needs time to get back into shape.

"He does need to go beyond his limits in training to rediscover his form."

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Patric Ridge