Juventus Top Performers – Round Eight versus Cagliari

For once this season, Juventus did not mess about in the Cagliari fixture, controlled the pace from start to finish with minimal dips in focus and intensity and took home with a well-deserved shutout victory.

Merih Demiral (7 points): a duo of young and explosive studs makes more sense for the slightly reckless way Juventus defend in the new regime, although they were more balanced than usual in this one, then it surely helps that Matthijs De Ligt was in pristine shape in his first game back after shoulder surgery, looking as dominant as ever. Demiral followed the lead and was not too shabby either and, in addition to that, he was a menace on set pieces on the other end, where he rattled the crossbar and set up Cristiano Ronaldo with an inadvertent flick-on. Danilo was not very noticeable but produced another solid performance, as he has grown accustomed to doing in this system. The risk of the back-line suffering because of the absences was real, especially against a peppy side, but the youngsters stepped it up, also from the character standpoint.

Arthur: he handled it well and often and played a major role in making up for Leonardo Bonucci’s distribution and, as a matter of fact, thanks to his brilliance, the team never struggled to begin the actions. Ball glued to his feet, he was always calm and collected, barring just one situation early in the second half. The next step for him will be to advance his area of influence, but today his primary job was a different one. Adrien Rabiot had a great first half and was threatening with his powerful channel runs, then appeared to gradually lose juice as the match progressed. Juan Cuadrado was not always on point in the back but he was a constant present on the right flank. Dejan Kulusevki was pretty good but did not fully stomp his authority on the game and had one touch too many before shooting in a couple of occasions where he was open in the box.

Cristiano Ronaldo (8 points): two goals in three minutes near the end of the first half and he called ‘game’. While the first strike was routine for him, the flying instinctive flick to nudge home the second one was a subtle thing of beauty. He wasted a pair of counters with poor passes, but it can be forgiven in a day like this. Alvaro Morata served as his Robin pretty well and teed him up on the opening goal. In a surprise twist, Federico Bernardeschi showed very well, probably re-energized by his recent spell with the Azzurri: he was denied a good-looking goal for a slight offside and had multiple chances. Paulo Dybala subbed in with more energy than in recent appearances, but he should have done better in some feasible scoring opportunities.

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