Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci were paired at centre-back with the Dutchman an unused substitute.
Chiellini’s early goal was enough as Juventus squeaked past Parma 1-0 to begin their Serie A season with three points.
“Of course I would have preferred to play,” said De Ligt shortly after the victory.
“I couldn’t read this based on the training sessions, in that sense I didn’t see this coming, but obviously I respect the decision of the coach.”
De Ligt joined Juventus from Ajax this summer in a move worth up to £77.7 million, but new manager Sarri kept faith with the experienced Italian pairing for the first game of the new season, and De Ligt understands the former Chelsea boss’ decision.
“I’m also realistic: I’m still getting used here in Italy. The duo that played today, Chiellini & Bonucci, was seen as the best defender-pairing of the world.
“It’s not like you’re just going play instead of them in the opening match. I’ll have to conquer/earn my place in the team this season.”
Gonzalo Higuain started up front for Juventus, who left Paulo Dybala on the bench after a summer of chatter linking the Argentine with a move away from Turin.
Adrien Rabiot made his debut from the bench, while Aaron Ramsey was not named in the squad for the match as he continues his recovery from injury.
Ramsey was this week named in Ryan Giggs’ Wales squad for their qualifier against Azerbaijan in Cardiff, and is believed to be close to a playing return.