Mamma mia, what a spectacle we were given at Juventus stadium. After a couple difficult games against Real Madrid surrounded by easer, convincing victories against smaller teams in Serie A, Top 3 team Napoli arrived in Torino ready to take on Juventus for the first time under coach Rafa Benitez.
The last time Juventus played a derby in Serie A, they took the lead early and relinquished it late in spectacular fashion. What happened against Fiorentina, however, was not about to be repeated against the Partenopei. In a swift, dominating performance, Juventus outclassed Napoli with three great goals to move within just one point of table leader Roma.
Plenty has already been said about the match and the goals, so I won't wax more narrative in the recap. I have been watching the replays non stop though, and I've concluded that Pirlo's goal was just as beautiful as Pogba's in my mind. The way he struck the ball on that free kick, it was very Cristiano Ronaldo-like. Pretty unlike him too - while we all know technically he can do everything with the ball, Pirlo usually curls his free kicks. This one was special, and he knew it too.
Buffon: 8.5 - Fantastic game for San Gigi Buffon, who was as an integral part of this victory as any outfield player. Just like the rest of our team, Gigi rose to the occasion and made some magnificent saves to keep a clean sheet. Lorenzo Insigne proved to be the only real threat throughout the game, but Buffon denied him valiantly on several occasions. My man of match.
Barzagli: 8 - Had a great game despite Insigne's attempt at brilliance. Given the age and pace differences, Insigne was always going to be a difficult task, but Barzagli still showed his quality throughout. Both his tackles and awareness on the pitch were perfect, as usual.
Bonucci: 7.5 - Played on par with Bonucci for most of the game, though didn't fail to remind us of his rash tackling at times. Had a wonderful chance to score from close range but Reina made a fantastic save to deny him. His yellow took him out of next game, and with Ogbonna suspended it will be interesting to see how Conte shuffles the central defenders for the back three against Livorno.
Ogbonna: 7 - Too bad he got sent off, that's the only reason I didn't give him a 7.5. If you ask me, Ogbonna played a great game given the circumstances. In a huge match, he was asked to replace Juventus legend Giorgio Chiellini, shut down Gonzalo Higuain, and supplement our attacks from behind. He did all three pretty successfully. The second yellow was a professional foul that he had to risk there, but the first yellow could've been avoided even if the referee got the call wrong. Plenty of positives to take away from this game for Angelo.
Isla: 7 - Finally played a game on par with the rest of the squad. He has definitely set the bar low so far, but against Napoli he was on that right side every single time he was needed, both in attack and in defense. Linked up with Vidal nicely on several occasions and put in some decent crosses.
Vidal: 7.5 - He's such a complete 2-way player and he shows it every night, no matter the opposition. Notched the assist on Pogba's screamer, and had a lovely opportunity to score from close range but his shot went just wide. His work on defense was as important as ever. Had just one brain fart for his yellow which led to Conte's classic TESTAAAAA scream (means "head" in Italian, as in think about what you're doing!)
Pirlo: 8.5 - Don't let his beautiful free kick fool you - Pirlo had a great overall match. He did well to pull away from the half-assed man marking by Napoli and really orchestrated our attack throughout the game. His free kick was really a thing of beauty, one that I will never forget.
Pogba: 8 - Poooo, po po po po Pooooooogba. The franzy continues. The young Frenchman's technical talent and mental strength continues to shine in that gorgeous black and white jersey. He's shown that he can be counted on in big games just as much as in the smaller ones. His volley was incredible, something a handful of 20-year olds can do at that stage. Played in a lot more advanced role and was really instrumental in attack. I'm really starting to love this kid!
Asamoah: 7.5 - First thing I noticed was how much he helped Ogbonna by sprinting back and lining up next to him in defense against the likes of Higuain and Callejon. Offensively, he played more centrally and cut in more to confuse the Napoli defense even further. A very nice game for the Ghanaian.
Tevez: 7.5 - As indispensable in attack as anyone else nowadays. His movement, passing, and shooting has added a new dimension to Juve's offense that teams find difficult to predict and shut down. He didn't score, but had an excellent game and can claim the assist on Llorente's first goal. I would give him the assist on Pirlo's free kick too since he was the one fouled for the set piece.
Llorente: 7.5 - He's becoming more scrappy and that can only be a good thing for a striker. Pounced on the Tevez flick to convert it into a goal early and gained confidence throughout the match. Two goals in two games, and 3 in the last 6. Keep it up Nando!
Conte: 8 - The early Llorente goal and Buffon's fantastic saves made this a different game, but Conte outclassed Benitez overall. Didn't let the team have any sign of a "European hangover" after the clash with Real Madrid. If anything, he used that performance to inspire our squad to victory. Got the line up right by leaving Marchisio on the bench too. Deserves an 8 in my opinion.