What a team! There is not much else to say after seeing Juventus destroy Lazio in two competitive matches for an overall result of 8-1. Antonio Conte and many others went on record this week saying that this game would be different than the Supercoppa. And, in a sense, it was. I don't know the numbers from the Supercoppa match, but I would say Juventus pressed with more determination, passed with more accuracy, and moved with more purpose than in Rome a few weeks ago.
So let's review the game shall we?
Juventus started pressing like they did during Conte's first year as a coach. As soon as a Lazio player had a ball, they were swarmed by black and white shirts. It was really impressive to see Juventus pressing so hard against a team they defeated by four goals a few weeks prior. After 14 minutes came Arturo Vidal's beautiful goal from a Pirloesque Paul Pogba pass. However, one goal is nothing in football, so the boys kept on pressing. The second goal also came from 2012-2013 player of the year. This time, Leonardo Bonucci's pass left the Chilean alone in front of goal, 2-0. The intensity of the first 25 minutes was so much fun to watch.
Juventus understandably slowed down after the goal giving Lazio more breathing room. Even with all the room, Lazio continued threatening only with mid-range shots. Three minutes after Vidal's goal, one of those shots from Hernanes was stopped by Gigi Buffon. Unfortunately, the rebound fell to Miroslav Klose who scored his first goal against Juventus (also, this was his 200th goal in 500 matches). Juventus seemed a little confused after the goal and continued to allow mid-range shots that were dealt by Buffon. Juventus needed to regroup and hearing referee Paolo Tagliavento blow the whistle at half time was a relief.
Three minutes after the break Juventus restored their two goal cushion thanks to another long pass from Bonucci and a cool finish by Mirko Vucinic. Kudos to Carlos Tevez on this goal for pulling one of the defenders away from his place making it easier for Mirko.
At this point, Lazio showed that they had no idea how to deal with the Old Lady. Things got worse for them when Hernanes received his second yellow for blatantly handling a ball in the area.
Tevez wanted a goal badly and almost had it with a shot from the edge of the box, however the ball hit the framework. Fortunately, five minutes later, Tevez found the back of the net for the second time against Lazio and for the third time in an official match.
Buffon 6.0 - Buffon's rebound allowed Lazio to get back into the game. Yes, some of the blame should go to Pirlo or whoever was covering Hernanes but Gigi should not have given the ball like that. He was visibly upset for the rest of the match with the midfield and defense for failing to close down the Lazio players.
Barzagli 7.5 -He was his solid beastly self again. I give him an extra 0.5 because he has been nursing an injury for the last 10 days and still chose to come out and play. Dedication!
Bonucci 8.0 - Two beautiful assists today. He can't really be blamed for the goal.
Chiellini 7.0 - Chiellini bossed that left side of the field for yet another game. Also, I noticed him getting a lot more involved in attacking than in the past. I don't know if this is a tactical switch or him just trying to score another goal against Lazio.
Lichtsteiner 7.0 - Good running and pressing. He left after 79 minutes for Isla.
Vidal 8.5 - Last year, Vidal showed that he can find the back of the net. He appears to have started exaclty where he left off, except this time, he wants to have as many goals as Tevez by the end of the season. If Bale is worth €100 million, and Pogba is worth twice as much as Bale according to Raiola, then a Vidal move to Real Madrid should leave Los Blancos bankrupt.
Pirlo 6.5 - For the second time in Serie A, the ex-Milan player failed to get things going. Once Marchisio comes back, I wouldn't mind if Pirlo started on the bench for a game or two. Unless it is in Europe of course.
Pogba 7.0 - Had a great 30 minutes (just like the rest of the team). I thought he drifted away from the match after the first 30 minutes of the match.
Asamoah 6.5 - Played a good defensive game (most tackles other than Vidal).
Vucinic 7.0 - I always struggle with Vucinic's rating. Do I give him a 5.0 for going missing during large periods of the match, or, do I give him an 8.0 for his goal and his movement on the Tevez goal? I am glad he wasn't sold this summer, as he brings something different to the team. That's of course when he brings it.
Tevez 7.5 His understanding with Vucinic keeps getting better. Also, him and Vidal found each other successfully on a number of occasions today. His work rate is commendable.
Things I think I think
- What is with all these rebounds, Gigi? I just hope they are out of your system.
- Conte went on record saying that he did not expect Alessandro Matri's sale. I don't really know what he expected. Beppe Marotta has been saying Juve will sell two strikers for the last month. Did he not expect Matri would be one of them? I think Conte's rant was a way to motivate his players, to tell them that this season is far from a sure thing. If this game was an indication of the team's motivation, the I'd say it worked.
- In previous seasons, the team had showed some nice passing in short spaces when we had to get out of our own box. This game I noticed the same but in Lazio's box. Vidal, Tevez, Pogba, and Vucinic had a few quick passes that threw off the Lazio defense. Unfortunately, the last pass was missing. That will only improve with time, and I can't wait.
Mauricio Isla coming off the bench for Stephan Lichtsteiner was surprising to say the least. All of last season I got so used to see Simone Padoin instead. So it looks like Conte is willing to give Isla another shot at being a Juventino. Let's hope he takes it.
- This is one of those games where numbers don't tell the whole story. Yes, Juve managed 65 percent possession with a pass success ratio of 88 percent, but the numbers also say that Lazio had 11 shots on target compared to the Bianconeri's five. Lazio did manage to get Buffon to parry the ball a number of times (something that Conte said the team must work on) but Gigi generally had things covered. On the other hand, out of the five shots Juve had on target, they put four at the back of the net. That type of efficacy has been lacking for years in Turin but it may be coming back. It is such a welcome sight to see players like Tevez or Vidal converting once they get the ball in the area. The quality is there, and as much as Conte may think the club was weakened by loosing Matri, the overall quality of the team continues to get better and better. Now it is time to see what will happen on the last day of the market, but no matter what, we have a team to look forward to the season ahead.