After 24 games played, Juventus are somehow sitting on top of the table. Lazio is one point behind them, after a huge 3 points against Inter. Inter are sitting in third, 3 points behind Juve. Juve ended with a 2-0 win at home against Brescia. The 3 points were never in doubt.
The scoring started in the 38’ from a beautiful Dybala freekick. Then, the match was put away by Cuadrado in the 75’ after a dirty backheel assist from Blaise Matuidi. Juventus had 27 total shots, with 9 on target; against Brescia’s 5 total, with 2 on target. This game should have been put away much sooner. Brescia went down to their third choice goalkeeper, Lorenzo Andrenacci, in the 10th minute. Florian Aye was also sent off in the 37’. Sarri’s Juve had their tactics down to a T this match. Completing clever passes and moving up the field quickly, holding 68% possession. The finishing just wasn’t there today, as you can tell by the shot count. Hopefully they can continue this kind of play with the UCL knockout stage coming up soon.
My biggest headline of the match: the return of il capitano! Giorgio Chiellini made his return in the 78’ after being out 6 months from a torn ACL back in August. He obviously didn’t look 100% quite yet, but seeing him on the field gives all Juve fans the hope they need going into the heart of the season. With Lazio out of Europe, and Inter in the Europa League, they will continue this heavy pressure on Juventus at the top of the Serie A table. Another interesting story with this match; resting Ronaldo. The 35 year old was rested with bigger matches coming up down the stretch. I think this is a big reason their finishing touch was lacking today. Juventus rely on him in the final third a bit too much. Dybala picked up most of the slack there, but they were missing their target man. Higuain has been better with his passing than finishing this season, apart from the random banger he’ll pull out of nowhere. If Juventus can mix their tactics from this match and the finishing they have with Ronaldo, they will be even more dangerous in Serie A and UCL this season.
Stars of the Match
Paulo Dybala is my man of the match by far. He was everywhere on the pitch for 90 minutes, mostly on the left or right wing; rotating with Cuadrado. Dybala basically filled the CR7 void on his own. He was on the ball every time they reached the final third, and dropping way back in the midfield to collect the ball to start the attack. His freekick started off the scoring in the first half. Sarri needs to look at this and make sure he is the undisputed freekick taker for the remainder of the season. They can sprinkle in some Pjanic as well. Another positive from this match was the chemistry between Dybala and Higuain. When they are clicking, it’s hard to stop them. It brings me back to their UCL Final run back in 2017. Which now reminds me of how that ended. Onto our next star.
Danielle Rugani was Juventus’ best defender today. He had Mario Balotelli in his pocket for the entire match. It’s clear that Brescia struggles to give Balotelli the service he needs, especially with Tonali out. With that said, he received little to no service, and when he did, Rugani was there to make sure the ball was won back, whether it was making timely tackles or beating him in the air. Let’s be honest, Rugani has been very close to a failure with Juventus. They signed him young because he had potential that hasn’t reached. So far this season he has played well enough when rotated into the lineup. Although we could say he would be playing elsewhere if not for Demiral’s injury. Rugani stepped up in a big way today and I’m hoping to see more positive performances from him.
Player Performance in 5 Words or Less
Szczesny – 7.5 – solid match, not much actions
Danilo – 6.5 – better than De Sciglio
Rugani – 8- stepped up, still need more
Bonucci – 6.5 – not his best, but enough
Sandro – 7.5 – defense okay, great forward runs
Bentancur – 8 -controlled the midfield
Ramsey – 6 -penalty drawn, his only highlight
Rabiot – 7 -still improving, need more
Cuadrado – 8 -quality on ball, poor crosses
Dybala – 9 -almost Messi, but not quite
Higuain – 7 -good holdup play and passing
Next Match is against SPAL. We should expect Ronaldo back this week in preparations for UCL. De Ligt could make his way back into the starting 11 as well. I’m hoping for an easy match to stay on top and relieve some stress in the league moving forward.
Starting 11 Prediction
Score: Juventus 3-1 SPAL
Written by: Michael Cooke