After an impressive victory against Atalanta, Juventus visited the Mapei Stadium in their quest to conquer the elusive second Serie A victory in a row. Sassuolo have been somewhat inconsistent during this season, however, they are powerful at home. Prior to this match, the Neroverdi were unbeaten in their last seven home matches. Therefore, this wasn't a piece of cake for Juventus.
Juve manager Massimiliano Allegri needed to change his formation once again because Claudio Marchisio was dropped out of the match-day squad after coming down with the flu. Mario Lemina took Marchisio's place in the starting lineup. Allegri chose to implement his hybrid 4-3-3/ 3-5-2 formation, with the attack partnership of Mario Mandzukic and Paulo Dybala. On the other side, Eusebio Di Francesco elected his usual and electric 4-3-3 configuration.
It was a cold and rainy night in Emilia Romagna. In the early stages of the game, Juventus tried to apply pressure on the home team, however, Sassuolo never panicked as a result of the bianconeri display. In fact, Sassuolo seemed very comfortable as the game minutes passed. On the other hand, Juventus became anxious and predictable by the minute.
On 18 minutes, Lemina fouled Nicola Sansone in a very dangerous spot near Juventus' penalty box. Two minutes later, Sansone scored with a wonderful curled free kick over Juventus' wall that left Gianluigi Buffon without a chance.
At the 26th minute, Paul Pogba tried to retaliate with a long-range effort; nonetheless Gianluca Pegolo denied the Frenchman with a superb two handed save. Sassuolo started to drop deeper in defense, but Juventus didn't manufacture a clean chance to score.
Then came the key play of the match. On 39 minutes, Dominico Berardi with his mad skills made Giorgio Chiellini look like a training cone, seconds later the defender pursued some "revenge" with a clumsy foul at midfield. That was his second yellow card, leaving Juventus with 10 men.
Five minutes after halftime, Alex Sandro executed a nice cross that found Mandzukic in the area. The Croatian slipped, but managed to serve Pogba, who shot immediately. However, his effort was inches wide of Pegolo's left post.
At 60th minute, Álvaro Morata replaced a very quiet Mandzukic. Moments later, the Spaniard fulfilled a clever pass to Juan Cuadrado, whose violent attempt forced another wise save by Sassuolo's keeper.
At that time, despite being with 10 men, Juventus fought tirelessly and owned the ball. Allegri brought Simone Zaza but the ex-Sassuolo was also unlucky. The problem was that the Bianconeri were toothless, and without imagination in this match. The Neroverdi defended properly in the final minutes, earning justly the victory.
Buffon 6 - Ugly day at the office for San Gigi. He was barely tasted in a rainy match, yet he was left watching a beautiful goal by Sansone.
Barzagli 6.5 - He was a rock as always. He played his natural position effortlessly after Chellini's second yellow card.
Bonucci 6.5 - Controlled Floccari during the game. The bad whether affected his usual playmaking ability.
Chiellini 3 - He let his team down leaving them with 10 men after an absurd foul on Berardi.
Alex Sandro 6.5 - Tried to impose his play in the left flank. The menace of Berardi limited his attacking chances
Lemina 7 - Was anxious during the first part of the match. Once he settled, he was everywhere. He won the possession of the ball for his team. My man of the match.
Pogba 6 - Another so-so performance by Paul. He should have scored in that second half chance thanks to his world-class shooting ability.
Sturaro 6 - He was rusty and failed to generate something during the first half. That said, he performed properly as an emergency right back.
Cuadrado 6 - This wasn't the best game of the speedy Colombian. He had some problems with his ball decisions.
Mandzukic 5 - Looked slow most part of the game. The Croatian is a fighter but he must recover his form quickly.
Dybala 6.5 - La Joya showcased some of his skills during the match but he needs another attacking partner.
Morata 6.5 - Gave a spark to Juventus attack. He couldn't find a chance to score.
Zaza s/v - Entered to the game in the last 15 minutes for Dybala. He barely touched the ball.
Hernanes s/v - Entered in the 82nd minute for Lemina and performed a couple of interesting shots.
Allegri 5.5 - Returned to the hybrid 3-5-2/4-3-3 and it didn't work. Juventus had the possession of the ball, but Sassuolo looked more dangerous. Morata for Mandzukic was an obvious substitution. Nonetheless, he failed to give Juventus other ideas to break their opponent's defense.
Things I think I think
- Please, Max, next time use the Dybala-Morata partnership. Trust us.
- Dear, Mr. Marota, if you don't seal the deal for Domenico Berardi, the tifosi will be mad.
- Dear, Mr. Marota, please scout that Sansone guy, too.
- Juventus are clueless without Marchisio and Sami Khedira
- Juventus felt more comfortable playing with the 4-3-1-2 scheme. I know the team has injuries, but Hernanes is a natural trequartista after all.
- Well, let's get ready for the Derby della Mole. Fino alla Fine!