After being gifted two goals in the first ten minutes of the Roma game, Juventus played with fire for the rest of the contest, failing to take advantage of the opportunities to seal the deal, but still managed to hold onto the lead and reclaim the first place in the standings.
Merih Demiral (4 points): the night of the defender got cut short by an apparently serious knee injury, but he scored a massive goal with a very opportunistic finish, fully exploiting a pair of imperfections by the Giallorossi defenders on a set piece. Matthijs De Ligt was forced into action and was not too shabby for somebody who is supposedly dealing with a pair of ailments and hs a matter of fact he had a crucial block on a late clear-cut attempt. The back-line tends to perform better when under constant pressure and today was no different, as the big chances for Roma were all in all numbered, thanks to the tidy work of the centre-backs. Alex Sandro was poor today and committed an instinctual but quite inexplicable handball that re-opened the contest. Wojciech Szczesny did not have to pull off any super-human save, if not right before the penalty foul, and oozed the usual calm and confidence.
Blaise Matuidi: nobody really stood out in the midfield as the squad refused to play for a long stretch from the 15th-minute mark to the last quarter of hour. The start was promising, with Aaron Ramsey doing his thing with finesse between the lines and Miralem Pjanic putting up shop in a more advanced position. But the production and the possession was too limited for such a technical lineup, which should have managed the ball and the clock better. So the nod goes to who brought it for the whole game due to his assignments, Matuidi, who ran after countless opponents and also sent in a potentially game-clinching cross in one of the few decent counters. Adrien Rabiot had an ebb-and-flow performance and his slowness at times really gets in the way. Juan Cuadrado had a decent display despite being forced to defend a lot and was instrumental in the tactical switch that tightened things up down the stretch, bringing his energy to the trident.
Paulo Dybala: Cristiano Ronaldo was the top point-getter thanks to yet another goal, but he was also too wasteful in the second half, missing an easy header coming from behind on a beautiful cross and waiting too long to set up Gonzalo Higuain on three-on-one fast-break, with El Pipa thus going offside. The bar is obviously very high for him. Hence, the top forward was Dybala, who stripped Jordan Veretout and baited the opponent into fouling him in the second and deciding turning point of the game and was always electric with the ball on his feet, but he did not receive much help. The sub was not popular, but it made sense and it helped, as a more work-rate oriented scheme successfully landed the play despite Roma’s siege.
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