Juventus hosted an underrated Atalanta on Sunday seeking to finish their late scoring difficulties and trying to achieve some consistency in the domestic league.
Massimiliano Allegri announced squad rotation at pre-match press conference on Saturday. He left Juan Guillermo Cuadrado on the bench and that meant a change in his module. Juventus started the match with Max's signature 4-3-1-2 formation, deploying Roberto Pereyra as trequartista. Atalanta coach Edy Reja presented an aggressive 4-3-3. The veteran manager tried to choke Juventus with a high pressure from his attackers.
The bianconeri began the match with great determination. Early in the game, they had two interesting set pieces, both executed by Paulo Dybala. The first one was a floated cross onto Leonardo Bonucci's head, whose effort forced a spectacular save by Marco Sportiello. The second was a corner kick that found Mario Mandzukic in the back post; however the keeper controlled the striker's erratic half volley easily.
Soon after, Atalanta started to even the match appealing to their usual high -tempo pressure, but they didn't cause troubles to Gianluigi Buffon.
Nevertheless, this match was Dybala's show. On 28 minutes, "La Joya" found some space on the edge of the box and fired a wicked long-range shot that got past Sportiello. At first glance, it looked like the young goalkeeper could make a better effort. The truth is that the ball had — a lot — of movement. It was a superb goal by the tiny striker.
In the 36th minute, Roberto Pereyra went down, and nobody touched him in that play. El Tucumano left the pitch and was replaced by Kwadwo Asamoah.
Just before halftime, Paul Pogba served a nice ball to Patrice Evra on the edge of the penalty area, the Frenchman executed a back pass to Dybala, who shot straight away, but Sportiello responded with an acrobatic save.
Five minutes after halftime, Juventus elaborated one of their prettiest plays of the season. Claudio Marchisio combined with Paul Pogba, who set up Dybala with a clever backheel. Then, the Argentinian executed an accurate low cross, which was sent into the back of the net by Mandzukic.
In the 69th minute, Dybala was close to score once again when he fulfilled a beautiful free-kick. His curled shot was inches wide of Sportiello left post. A minute later a magical pass by Pogba left Dybala one-on-one with Sportiello. Dybala performed a nice volley, but the goalkeeper responded with a terrific save.
On 78 minutes, Dybala beat Gabriel Paletta inside Atalanta's penalty box, the defender fouled his compatriot and the bianconeri were awarded with a penalty. However, Pogba couldn't capitalize from the spot because Sportiello responded again with an excellent stop.
Juventus accomplished a worthy victory against the Goddess. They rediscovered their creativity and played with flexibility. I'm begging for more games like this.
Buffon 6.5 - Another spectator-type match for Gigi. He had an untroubled evening at Juventus Stadium.
Padoin 6.5 - Solid performance by the bianconeri's Swiss Army knife. He did not put a foot wrong on defense.
Chellini 7.5 - Made a couple of great plays on defense. He's an unsung hero in this victory.
Bonucci 7 - Rock-solid as always. My only complain is that he jeopardized the possession of the ball sometimes.
Evra 7.5 - The ruler of the left flank. He was a constant threat on offense; yet a belligerent defender.
Marchisio 8 - The metronome of Juventus' midfield. He hardly missed a pass, could make Andrea Pirlo proud with this performance.
Khedira 7.5 - Smart as always. It looks like he's starting to build huge chemistry with the rest of the team.
Pogba 7.5 - Paul we really missed you. Please don't let his missed penalty fools you; He had a very nice match. Maybe he could claim the trequartista role.
Pereyra 7 - He played with great intensity. He had to leave the game with an ugly-looking injury.
Mandzukic 6.5 - He's still out of rhythm. However, was an enforcer in the area and scored his first goal in Serie A.
Dybala 9 - I don't know what to write. He was phenomenal plain and simple! He could have had a hat trick with a little bit of luck. Of course, he's the Man of the Match.
Asamoah 7.5 - I'm so glad to see Kojo back and playing an important number of minutes. He complemented nicely the rest of the midfield. I believe he's ready to fight for a spot.
Morata s/v - Entered for Mandzukic and played the last 15 minutes.
Sturaro s/v - Entered in the 89th minute for Khedira.
Allegri 7.5 - He deployed his favorite 4-3-1-2 formation and it was a success. Also made a gutsy decision when he put Asamoah in the game instead of Cuadrado. Pogba as a triquartista was another bright choice. However, the best of all is that he finally used Dybala in a complete game!
Things I think I think
- Decisions, Decisions, Decisions.
- 4-3-1-2, 4-3-3 or (I hope not) 3-5-2?
- Dybala and Cuadrado? Dybala or Cuadrado?
- Pogba as a trequartista is an intriguing idea. Asamoah looked really good in his first real cameo of the season.
- Just imagine a weekly partnership between Dybala and Morata. By the way, let the Barcelona, Real Madrid, Manchester, Bayern, Arsenal rumors begin!
- It's just me or Giulio Migliaccio is Vin Diesel's lost twin?