We all knew it. We knew it from the moment Giorgio Chiellini was sent off against Sassuolo on Wednesday that Simone Padoin will be bossing the right flank in the Derby della Mole. Un colpo di tacco qui, un altro lá, Padoin was a joy to watch – even if his backheel attempts were unsuccessful. It was enough to denote confidence. His grinta was there too. You can always rely on him for that.
It was a scrappy derby victory, but three points never felt better before.
Max Allegri was forced to change the system during the game once more due to the injury of Sami Khedira in the 10th minute, switching from the initial 4-3-1-2 to a 4-3-3, with Juan Cuadrado and Alvaro Morata flanking Paulo Dybala on the wings and shifting Hernanes to the regista role. He is having a hard enough time getting the right game plan with the full squad at his disposal. Moments like this will only increase the pressure on his already difficult mission of getting Juventus back on the right track.
Speaking of which, bianconeri tifosi all around the world have been rather vociferous after the latest setback in Emilia-Romagna. Gathering together in angry mobs, with scythes and blazing torches lightening their way towards the headquarters of Juventus in Turin, they have been asking for Allegri’s head. Completely mental, if anyone is interested in a humble opinion. Had Allegri even led Juventus to a 3-0 defeat in the Derby della Mole, he would have still been the man to take the Old Lady out of these dark times. But patience is not a word that can be easily found in the – sometimes limited – vocabulary of football fans nowadays.
Cuadrado could not have found a better moment to open his scoring account for Juventus. Doing an Andrea Pirlo and handing Juventus the victory against Torino in the last possible moment is surely enough to start appreciating the Colombian for his playing style that either goes haywire or becomes essential for the win. Much like it was said here.
The Champions League anthem – a massive improvement from the hideous Serie A one – and Borussia Monchengladbach is up next for the Old Lady in three days’ time and it is just redundant to stress the importance of three more points. Allegri knows the game: win and the progress to the knock-out stages is pretty much secured. Lose and the angry, blood-thirsty mobs come back to life. Either way, there will be good football to watch and talk about.
After some rather surprisingly uneventful first 10 minutes, the bomb dropped. Sami Khedira got injured playing a simple pass and was immediately replaced by Juan Cuadrado.
The tifosi didn’t get to see any goal action whatsoever until the 20th minute but the long waiting was worth it. Dybala’s little dummy ensured Pogba received the ball at the edge of the box and after a great first touch, the Frenchman propelled the ball into the top corner past an idle Daniele Padelli – a superb goal reminiscent of the times Pogba used to produce something similar every fortnight.
A couple of minutes after scoring the goal, Pogba was the victim of two killing challenges in the space of five seconds, first from Afriyie Acquah and then from Cesare Bovo. Both culprits were booked by referee Gianluca Rocchi and Pogba could count himself lucky to get away without an injury.
On the half hour mark, Quagliarella missed the first good chance for Torino when he received a ball outside the area and, due to Leonardo Bonucci’s poor positioning, had plenty of time to control the ball and get a shot in but his volley went wide of Buffon’s goal.
Dybala came close to doubling Juventus’ lead three minutes later but his shot from the edge of the 16-yard-box flew past the top corner at the far post.
Two minutes before half time, Cristian Molinaro sent a ball in front of goal and Bonucci managed to get in front of Maxi Lopez to deny the Argentine what would have been an easy tap-in for a goal. The danger wasn’t immediately cleared away but Rocchi stopped the play for a foul on Andrea Barzagli.
As the second half started, little would have predicted an early goal from Torino, but it came nonetheless. Bonucci gave away a foul outside the area and Daniele Baselli only hit the wall from the resulting free-kick. The ball bounced to Bovo and the defender sent a thunderous strike into the roof of the net, leaving Gianluigi Buffon little time to react.
A few minutes later, Buffon produced a miraculous save to keep the sides level as he denied Kamil Glik’s header from point-blank range, following a corner kick. Bonucci was quick to clear the rebound away for another corner from which nothing dangerous resulted.
Pogba came close to scoring his second goal on a couple of occasions but first his shot from inside the box was weak and easily held by Padelli and then he only managed to sky his effort after receiving a good ball from Cuadrado.
Just after the hour mark, Juventus failed to took the lead in three different situations. Hernanes was the first to send a shot over the goal from outside the area, before Dybala’s effort was blocked and put behind for a corner kick. The Argentine delivered the ball in from the set piece but Pogba couldn’t make contact with the ball at the far post and the chance was squandered.
Juventus came inches away to take the lead in the first minute of injury time as Bonucci met Hernanes’ brilliant delivery from a set piece and sent a similar great header against the crossbar. Marchisio followed the rebound but his shot was cleared by the defence.
Despite that miss, the Bianconeri snatched the victory in the dying minutes through Cuadrado who managed to slide in and put the ball behind the line after a great pass from substitute Alex Sandro. Rocchi blew the full time whistle a few seconds after the goal.
Buffon: 7.5 An amazing save to deny Glik and a couple more to block shots from distance. Could do nothing to stop Bovo’s strike.
Padoin: 6 Really spirited on the right, with good contribution for the defence
Barzagli: 6.5 Solid defending from the veteran, as he managed to contain both Lopez and Quagliarella
Bonucci: 5.5 Fantastic dedication as always, but out of his position in a couple of occasions – once again showed he’s not really himself in a defence with just two centre backs
Evra: 6 Confident display at the back. Dominated the left wing and had a really good attacking contribution
Khedira: s/v whatever
Marchisio: 5.5 A few good recoveries from the Principino but was hardly seen on the field all evening
Pogba: 7.5 Amazing goal from the Frenchman – great first half following the morale boost and despite some moments of wastefulness, he was the best man on the pitch
Hernanes: 5.5 Had to drop from trequartista to regista and did his job decently. Couldn’t bring too much to the build-up play though
Dybala: 6.5 Very lively upfront. Put in a lot of effort to create chances and help the defence. Lacked the finishing touch
Morata: 6 Worked his socks off on the pitch but he couldn’t make an impact in front of goal. Yellow carded for a reckless challenge in a neutral area
BONUS: Quagliarella: 6 Luckily, he missed a couple of good chances for the visitors
Cuadrado: 7.5 A late winning goal and an assist. Great impact from the Colombion who tormented the opposite defence throughout
Mandzukic: s/v Replaced Morata with just over 10 minutes left to play
Sandro: 6.5 Came in for Dybala in the final minutes and delivered a great assist for Cuadrado’s goal
Allegri: 6 Forced to change his strategy after just 10 minutes of football and Juventus seemed lost at times in the game. Saved by an inspired substitution and a couple of good individual performances from Pogba and Cuadrado