Juventus vs SPAL
Stats according to whoscored.com
Shots: Juventus 20-12 Spal
On Target: 6-5
So lets get right into the major headlines from this game. Cristiano Ronaldo is playing in his 1,000th career professional match. This is a big deal since most of the players to hit these kinds of numbers are goalkeepers. The way that Ronaldo has been able to stay healthy and prestigious in his long career has been nothing but amazing and inspiring for upcoming generations. It’s only right that the 35 year old came into this weekend on a 10 game scoring streak in Serie A. The next big story is Giorgio Chiellini’s return to the starting 11. Last week he made his first appearance off the bench against Brescia, this week he was in the lineup from the start. The captain played 54 minutes Saturday, with De Ligt coming on for him, but wasn’t tested too much. He made proper interceptions and clearances, but is not quite up to speed yet, we are looking forward to when is fully fit.
You may remember my second star of last week’s matchup against Brescia. Danielle Rugani. Rugani started his second consecutive game after a great performance last week. He seemed a bit shaky in the back, but I believe this was from not having enough training time with Chiellini to get their chemistry down. Juan Cuadrado is back to his natural position at the wing. I expect him to remain in the attack for the rest of the season, barring anymore injuries at fullback. Paulo Dybala is now sitting in his preferred position, the false nine. It was clear that SPAL’s main defensive focus was to smother Dybala every time he touches the ball. This was easy to tell when there were two or three defenders on his back when receiving a pass from the wings or midfield. This worked to Juventus’ advantage as it would leave Ronaldo and Cuadrado soaring down the wings for the entire 90 minutes.
Cristiano maintains his streak!
Cristiano got his goal in the 39′ of a dominating first half for Juve, making it 11 straight Serie A matches. With this goal, he ties the record with Gabriel Batistuta(1994) and Fabio Quagliarella(last season). It seems like this man breaks records everywhere he goes! CR7 will be aiming to become the sole record holder when Juventus face Inter at home March 1st. Ronaldo would then hit the crossbar on a freekick later in the game, being the only thing from him that annoys me. It seems like week after week, we see that Juventus’ have at least 2 free kick takers that are superior to Ronaldo; Dybala and Pjanic. With Pjanic out this game, it seemed as though Dybala would be their main man on the ball. There were 3 free kicks taken around the penalty area for Juve in this match. Ronaldo took two of them, smashing one into the wall and hitting the crossbar on the other, leaving Dybala to only take one. Dybala has proven that he should have priority on freekicks around the area and the team needs to make sure this happens moving forward.
Rambo finds his spot
Sarri has finally put Aaron Ramsey in the role where he feels natural, getting him out of the #10 role and putting him back in the midfield. He started in a midfield three with Bentancur and Matuidi, playing surprisingly well together. Rambo scored a great chip from a beautiful pass by Dybala in the 60′. This is what he has been missing all season, the finishing touch. Ramsey has been able to get open in the box plenty of times this season but has lacked proper service from his teammates. Dybala put him in with a through ball and the rest was history. I’m hoping this gives Ramsey the confidence he needs moving forward and for him to continue playing in that role.
More problems with VAR?
If you didn’t see the game, you would see Rugani gave up a penalty shortly after Ramsey’s goal, but a lot more went into this. To me, it looked like a good tackle at first, but the play soon went to a VAR check. The main referee trotted to the sideline to check the monitor, but there was no signal and he wasn’t able to view the replay. With this occurring, he decided to go with the VAR assistant’s choice and reward a penalty to SPAL. This is something I have never experienced, even with the high amount of games I watch each weekend, and should have been explained by the league properly. More and more problems keep occurring with VAR. It is a great system to have, but the implementation needs to be better. Sarri was also quoted after the match saying if it was the other way around, they would have never given the penalty to Juve. I agree with this completely, had the VAR monitor gone off while deciding to give Juventus a penalty, there would be endless complaints around the league. Anyway, the penalty was given and Andrea Petagna put it away to put the game at 2-1 in the 69′, where Juve would see out the 3 points. Juventus have given away the most penalties in Serie A so far this season with 9. If they can clean up some edges, their defense is in store for a great run in Serie A and UCL.
My player ratings vs SPAL
Juventus sit 1 point up on Lazio and 6 points up on Inter, whose game was postponed this weekend, bringing up a crazy developing story. 3 Serie A games were postponed on Sunday due to an outbreak of the Coronavirus in Northern Italy.. The games postponed include: Atalanta-Sassuolo, Torino-Parma, and Verona-Cagliari. We will see how this affects the league moving forward, as certain options have included either postponing games next weekend or playing the games with closed doors.
Juve travel to Lyon midweek for their UCL round of 16 matchup, hoping to get ahead in the tie with crucial away goals to bring back home for the second leg. Here is my prediction for their starting 11:
Score: Juventus 2-1 Lyon
Written by: Michael Cooke