It was, Andrea Barzagli said, was “a signal to ourselves.” Juventus were under pressure to respond following a scoreless Champions League draw with Sevilla and loss against Inter on the weekend. Respond they did, crushing Cagliari. It ended 4-0 but could have been more, such was Juve’s dominance throughout the 90 minutes.
“We entered the pitch fired up and with desire to play, which is what we missed against Inter,” the veteran defender said. Criticism was levelled Juve’s way after the Derby d’Italia. Criticism toward Massimiliano Allegri’s selections, and the performance itself. A timid Bianconeri side was outfought and outplayed by Inter. Not often over the past five seasons have those accusations been thrown at Juventus. It wasn’t the case on Wednesday.
There was an element of luck about all four goals scored. Daniele Rugani and Gonzalo Higuain netted rebounds following two fine saves from former Juventus goalkeeper Marco Storari. Dani Alves’ first for the club came from a well-worked corner, with his strike helped by a deflection. The late fourth again involved a Storari save, with the last touch coming off Rossoblu defender Luca Ceppitelli.
While that was the case, Juve certainly had control of the contest. They had 14 shots on target to Cagliari’s zero, with Storari kept busy for the duration. The 39-year-old produced a number of key saves. Higuain struck the woodwork.
“It’s a good answer to the rather excessive criticism of our performance on Sunday against Inter,” the coach stated.
The result also sends Juventus back to the top of Serie A, having slipped behind Napoli on the weekend. This was, on paper, the easiest of their five opening matches. Juve’s previous four had been against sides which finished inside the top eight last season. They have four wins to their name. It’s something Allegri spoke about earlier in the week, stating they are above where they expected to be and based on performances.
Miralem Pjanic was released from his midfield shackles to have more of an influence on proceedings than in Milan. Allegri was also able to give seasonal debuts to Rugani, Hernanes and Neto – who came on at half-time for the injured Gianluigi Buffon – while Marko Pjaca had an extended run compared to his opening substitute appearances.
Having shaken off the criticism, Juve go to Palermo this Saturday. The Sicilians are coming off their first win of the campaign. Following that is a Champions League clash at Dinamo Zagreb. It’s an important week for Allegri’s men, who offered a reminder of why they are still the team to beat.
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