Juventus Top Performers – Round 34 vs Lazio

A defensive mishap made the final minutes tenser than they should have been, as Juventus had managed to solve Lazio in about an hour, delivering a killer one-two punch early in the second half exploiting the opponents’ mistake. The light did not completely go off this time around and the result stood, so the Old Lady assessed the penultimate blow to the title race.

Wojciech Szczesny: the defence needed to bounce back and it did it up until the last ten minutes, holding in check the opponents pretty comfortably, as they were limited to just one chance, a major one though as Ciro Immobile hit the post with a sudden strike. Still, an improvement over the last few performances and for the most part an unremarkable night for the defenders, who for 90 percent of the match performed very attentively. Then things went awry as Leonardo Bonucci caused a PK on long-ball where the Szczesny was late coming out, but that was the goalkeeper’s call to make and the centre-back should have known better and just cleared it immediately. However, the Polish then answered the bell on a Sergej Milinkovic-Savic free kick, which was not potent but very accurate, providing the most important defensive contribution of the night.

Adrien Rabiot: his post-hiatus turnaround continues as he was again the most noticeable midfielder on the pitch, producing few solo runs that broke the monotony and seemingly always making the right read both when handling the ball and in the passive phase, where taming Manuel Lazzari was not a turkey shoot. For him, like for Rodrigo Bentancur, the final step will be to be a threat in the final third. The Uruguayan international filled in for Miralem Pjanic and, while he plays the position in a more understanded manner, he was precious nonetheless with his pressure and quick passing. Aaron Ramsey surprisingly got the start in a big spot but had nothing more than a couple of flashes.

Cristiano Ronaldo (8 points): he is not one to shy away from responsibilities and delivered again from the penalty spot, then Paulo Dybala gift-wrapped him the easiest goal of the season on an opportunity he contributed to creating by raising the temperature on Luiz Felipe. Differently from other matches, he was present also in other parts of the game, keeping the ball high and even defending a bit late. Paulo Dybala was not in the XI for reasons unbeknownst to anybody, but Gonzalo Higuain was forced to bow and he started anyway and had a terrific outing, wreaking havoc with his twisting runs, providing a generous assist and often putting his teammates in position to score. He should have bagged one of his one, but his touch let him down for once. Speaking of mysteries, Douglas Costa is a completely different, lesser version of himself when he starts.

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