Serie A Game of the Week – Round 31: Benevento vs Juventus


There was a good amount of drama in the last round, particularly in Napoli’s late win and in a pair of clashes in the relegation zone, but the marquee game, Sampdoria-Genoa, was a dud, so the weekly shout-out goes to the highest scoring match: Benevento-Juventus.

The Sanniti were coming off a commanding win over Verona, where they confirmed their strength at home, but unfortunately they basically would have to win out to hope to avoid relegation, but they are too poor on the road. Juventus were looking to bounce back after a very disappointing result in the first leg against Real Madrid.

Roberto De Zerbi was without Gaetano Letizia due to suspension, replaced by the returning Bacary Sagna, but pretty much fielded his best XI and Cheick Diabate got the nod upfront over Massimo Coda and Pietro Iemmello. Massimiliano Allegri, instead, rotated the squad, sparing Gianluigi Buffon, Giorgio Chiellini, Sami Khedira, Douglas Costa and Gonzalo Higuain and giving Juan Cuadrado, Mario Mandzukic and Claudio Marchisio a chance to start.

The Old Lady broke the deadlock early, after just 15 minutes, with Paulo Dybala burying a fabulous lefty strike from an angled position. However, the League-leader’s plans to make quick work of the opponents were rapidly squashed, as ten minutes later Diabate beat Alex Sandro to the punch on a juicy low-cross by Guilherme and tied the game.

Benevento were not shy, but the Bianconeri managed to go up one goal a second time, this time thanks to a penalty as Miralem Pjanic duped Berat Djimsiti with a feint in the box and the defender hit him. Paulo Dybala converted just as the first half expired.

However, the Campani refused to go down and levelled the game, again with Diabate, who this time outjumped and outmuscled Medhi Benatia on a corner kick and put it past Wojciech Szczesny with a precise header.

Juventus had to dig deeper than expected, the coach deployed Gonzalo Higuain and Douglas Costa off the bench and they eventually won the game. El Pipita was tackled in the box after a great hesitation and Dybala bagged the second penalty of the afternoon. The Brazilian winger sealed the deal with a screamer: he received the ball in a rather harmless position on the left wing, cut back shaking off two defender with a pair of shimmies and smashed it home with a thunderous lefty shot.

Juventus stayed four points clear of Napoli, while Benevento are 14points behind the 17th-placed Spal.

A fecund bout in the fantasy game: for the Bianconeri, Paulo Dybala collected 14 points, Douglas Costa four, Higuain and Cuadrado two each for the assists; for the home team, Diabate racked up eight, Nicolas Viola and Guilherme two for the dishes.

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