Juventus broke through with a fairly flucky goal in the second half after a balanced first 45 minutes and actually for once gained steam after getting the lead and managed to control the remaining portion of the contest, gaining a monumental W and returning on top of the standings.
Matthijs De Ligt and Leonardo Bonucci (5 points): no separation between the two centre-backs, who perfectly tag-teamed to stymie one of the most vaunted striking duo in the League. They matched Romelu Lukaku’s physicality and contained Lautaro Martinez’s movements, and, as a matter of fact, even in the Nerazzurri’s best moments, the chances came from the ancillary players. Wojciech Szczesny answered the bell on the lone dangerous daisy-cutter from distance, while Alex Sandro put in the usual decent but not superb shift.
Aaron Ramsey (8 points): Maurizio Sarri’s biggest gamble, benching Miralem Pjanic for the ex-Gunner, paid off big time, as he pounced on a loose ball and slotted it home for a pivotal goal and interplayed very nicely with Paulo Dybala on the second one. He was not always precise and sometimes his first touch and accuracy failed him, but he was constantly in the thick of it, trying to get things going and eventually cashed in on with a very opportunistic goal. Blaise Matuidi’s hustle turned a rich profit as he generated the first goal with a sprint towards the base-line and a dart towards the middle. His play is not always pretty, but his intangibles often make a difference. Rodrigo Bentancur is not the purest distributor but he holds his own and the energy level goes up when he is there. Juan Cuadrado returned to the back-line and, while his lapses give fans a heart-attack, his zip is always welcome and he was one of the most active men in the first half.
Paulo Dybala (4 points): it is an extremely positive sign if a player of his stature, who had been carrying the team for a while, takes coming off the bench in stride and then actually delivers for the exact purpose that decision was made in the first place. He netted an absolutely stellar goal in its entirety, from spotless positioning toeing the offside trap, to the elegant touches to dupe a midfielder, the combination with Ramsey, the glide in the box and finally toe-poke against the grain to wrong-foot Samir Handanovic. One of his finest and heaviest goals in black-and-white. Cristiano Ronaldo’s streak came to an end after 11 matches, but not for lack of trying, especially late where he squandered two chances that he would have bagged on his best day. Deploying Douglas Costa made sense for the width he provides, but he had a muted performance as the burst was not there yet after his latest injury. Gonzalo Higuain did what he could to combat a gigantic back-line, he was not very effective in the box, but the squad often looked for him to a have reference point in the build-up and he has improved tremendously in that area.
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