Serie A Game of the Round – Juventus vs Sassuolo

Juventus’ first faux pas at home came at the hands of Sassuolo in a great match, which had the proper amount of fun and signifcance, with no disrepect to the fantastic Cagliari-Sampdoria thriller.

The Bianconeri came into the fixture having won four in a row, the most recent out thanks to a late surge against Atalanta, while the Emiliani were pipped at the post by Lazio last week and in general had showed improvements over the last four rounds.

Maurizio Sarri picked Gonzalo Higuain and Federico Bernardeschi over Paulo Dybala and Aaron Ramsey up front, with Cristiano Ronaldo made the XI for the second game in a row after knee injury. Emre Can received a rare start in the midfield next to Miralem Pjanic and Rodrigo Bentancur, while Alex Sandro was back in his usual role after a muscular issue. Again without Domenico Berardi, Roberto De Zerbi opted for an aggressive 4-2-3-1 with Filip Djuricic, Hamed Traore and Jeremie Boga supporting Francesco Caputo and Manuel Locatelli next to Francesco Magnanelli as pivots. Grigoris Kyriakopoulos was selected over Federico Peluso as left-back. 18-year-old rookie Stefano Turati made his Serie A debut since Andrea Consigli and Gianluca Pegolo were both banged up.

Juventus could have scored after seven minutes, but Can whiffed on a perfect square ball right in front of the goal, while his second attempt, a little curl from medium range, was sent away by the young goalie. The Old Lady broke through at the 20th minute as, at the end of a lengthy and suffocating action, Leonardo Bonucci found himself at the edge of the box and slotted it in the bottom right corner with the help of slight deflection.

However, two minutes later, the Neroverdi countered very quickly after a corner kick, Caputo and Boga combined with too much freedom toeing the offside trap and the winger chipped it over Gianluigi Buffon from close range.

The guests got the lead at the beginning of the second half on a collective howler by the opposing back-line, as Juan Cuadrado put Matthijs De Ligt in trouble with an ugly errant pass, the Dutch defender cleared it in even worse fashion, de facto feeding Caputo and Buffon could not corral a pretty tame bouncing shot by the striker.

The Madama started pressing and Turati answered the bell on a thunderous free kick by Ronaldo on their first chance, then on the second one, Higuain failed to punch it home from perfect position, allowing the goalie to cradle it.

Dybala subbed in for Bernardeschi and, almost right away, he was fouled by Filippo Romagna in the box and Ronaldo made his return to the stat-sheet after a month by converting the penalty at the 67th minute.

Even though there was a still of lot of game left, Juventus attacked a little too frantically and mustered just a pair of good chances: Dybala skied it from close range while kicking with his right foot, while Ramsey challenged the goalie with a daisy-cutter after pouncing on a loose ball, but Turati managed to stop the ball before it crossed the line after initially failing to bat it away correctly. Ronaldo sent a pretty difficult header wide in the final minute.

The Old Lady was leapfrogged by Inter in first place as result of the tie, while Sassuolo snatched a morale-boosting result but they are still in 14th position, four points above the relegation zone.

In the fantasy game, Caputo paced everybody with his six-point haul, thanks to a goal and assist, followed by Ronaldo and Boga, who earned the standard four for scoring, while Bonucci was docked one because he was booked. Bentancur gathered two thanks to a helper.

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