Juventus survived a lifeless first half again Fiorentina, where they could have found themselves in a big hole, cranked it up in the second 45 minutes and took home the points they needed to wrap up the title race, which for the first time in Serie A history is over before Easter.
Alex Sandro (4 points): not an overly impressive showing by the Brazilian left back, but the goal, a pretty header attacking the first post on a corner kick, massively helped the Bianconeri, who started to play convincingly only after that goal. As for the others, Wojciech Szczesny did not have an easy day between a knock on the wrist and a near laughable blunder in the first half, but came out perfectly late on the uncovered Bryan Dabo to prevent the equalizer. Continue reading →
Few tilts were high-scoring and intense up until the final whistle in this round and Juventus-Milan was the most meaningful one out of the bunch. The Bianconeri came into the game looking to get closer or possibly clinch the title with an advantageous combination of results that would have to start with a win, while the Devil were seeking to rebound after three unsatisfactory results, as they had recently lost to Sampdoria and Inter and tied with Udinese.
Juventus had to bring something close to their A-game in the second half, but eventually managed to outduel Milan on Saturday night and moved one win away from Scudetto.
Daniele Rugani: not a satisfactory defensive performance by any stretch, although the level of the opponent has to be taken into consideration and the Rossoneri are no slouches, especially when they are performing with this level of intensity. Leonardo Bonucci had a dreadful giveaway that led to the first goal, while the fullbacks had a muted performance, even though Mattia De Sciglio and especially Alex Sandro did manage to pitch in offensively a little after intermission. Continue reading →
Salvatore Sirigu: even if the Torino’s defense has slipped a little in the past few games, he has pulled off some amazing performances and perhaps, differently from Frosinone, they will be able to take advantage of Parma’s absences up front.
Mario Rui: he showed well even in a losing effort in Empoli. Genoa have had a lot of troubles coming up with goals lately, so the Napoli defenders are certainly intriguing in this round, especially Ghoulam, Rui and Kevin Malcuit who are the most involved offensively.
Fabrizio Cacciatore: SPAL are not great on the road, while Cagliari were very solid at home up until the match with Juventus. He is coming off two assists in a row and Darijo Srna is suspended. Luca Pellegrini is faring well too and he will not have to deal with Manuel Lazzari. Continue reading →
Differently from the Empoli game, Juventus managed to control the pace of the game and stymie the opponents’ weapons in Cagliari, taking home a sweet victory despite several absences.
Leonardo Bonucci (9 points): when Wojciech Szczesny is not asked to make any save, it means that the back-line has worked to perfection. The opponents had some vigor only in the late stages of the contest, but all in all their attempts where pretty tame. The three-man defense has often been a great crutch for the Bianconeri in difficult situations and its effectiveness was on display again here. Continue reading →
Juventus sleepwalked through the first half on Saturday night, but somehow avoided conceding and, after intermission, turned up the volume just enough to topple Empoli and move one win closer to Scudetto.
Giorgio Chiellini (5 points): if the squad survived after a horrid showing in the first 45 days minutes, that is primarily thanks to a very diligent performance by both centre-backs, who did their best to plug the plethora of holes in that makeshift initial XI. Daniele Ruganicelebrated the extension with a near immaculate showing, but the captain gets nod due to his involvement in the game-winning goal, where he uncorked a Leonardo Bonucci-esque long ball and for a key intervention to thwart a dangerous counter in the second half. Continue reading →
Juventus painted a masterpiece on Tuesday night, thanks to an amazing collective effort, a rarely seen fierceness and an out-of-the-blue tactical solution and got the ‘magical night’ they have been looking for.
Joao Cancelo: he was arguably one of the least effective players on the pitch, relatively speaking and considering his skills, as he could have done more with all the space he had at his disposal. However, bonus points are part of the equation and he sent in a pinpoint cross to set up Cristiano Ronaldo’s second goal. Continue reading →
Juventus: Miralem Pjanic and Joao Cancelo are suspended, while Douglas Costa (quad, calf), Sami Khedira (heart) and Juan Cuadrado (knee) remain sidelined. Mattia De Sciglio has been ruled out late due a thigh problem.
Napoli: Alex Meret is disqualified and Raul Albiol is recovering from a clean-up knee surgery.
Milan: Ricardo Rodriguez is banned. Hakan Calhanoglu might not play as he flew to Germany for the birth of his child eariler this week . Mattia Caldara is expected to be back in the squad list, while Cristian Zapata is more likely to return next week. Continue reading →
A very entertaining Serie A round was capped off by the seminal encounter between Napoli and Juventus, which, by all accounts, was one of the strangest matches of the season. The Partenopei approached the game trying to cut into the Bianconeri’s sizeable lead and to maintain their impeccable home record, while the Old Lady was looking to put any residual comeback hopes to sleep.
Favourable circumstances in the early going directed the clash with Napoli in Juventus’ way and, to their credit, the Bianconeri struck when they smelled blood in the first half, which, with some luck, allowed them to hang on despite struggling almightily in the second one.
Leonardo Bonucci: he and Wojciech Szczesny, who had a couple of very solid saves, had the best performance out of the defensive pack, as Giorgio Chiellini had a rare mistake letting José Callejon slip behind him on the 1-2 goal. Bonucci was very attentive and commanding throughout the contest and had a key block late in the game on a menacing shot. Continue reading →