A win is a win. Juventus didn't play particularly well today, but luckily, neither did Milan. However, there were a few moments of real quality from Juventus, and it looks as if the Bianconeri are legitimately gathering some steam, getting important results, and rescuing what looked to be a disaster of a season in the making.
Allegri set his team up in a 4-3-1-2 formation, pairing Dybala with Mandžukić with Hernanes in the hole, and ... it wasn't a resounding success. Aside from a couple early flashes, Hernanes looked off the pace and out of sync with his teammates, and was rightfully hooked at halftime for Bonucci, switching the formation to a 3-5-2.
Patrice Evra had a torrid time against Alessio Cerci's pace, and looked to have come off injured when Alex Sandro stepped on...but was he injured? Or was it simply a very brave early substitution from Max Allegri? Sandro was brilliant today, using his pace and physicality to minimize Cerci's threat, and bombing down the left to torment Ignazio Abate. If this was a calculated move by Allegri, my hat is off to the Mister.
Mario Mandžukić looks lost and isolated. As a striker who thrives on service from the flanks, the 4-3-1-2 doesn't play to his strengths in the slightest. He improved a bit with the formation change, but missed a golden chance that the Mandžukić of old would've smashed home without a second's hesitation. If Juve is going to play with two strikers, there's no question in my mind that Morata and Dybala should be the pairing.
That being said, let's talk about that little fella.
Paulo Dybala is a star. He was everywhere today. Finding pockets of space, combining with the midfield, linking the attack, and even tracking back to defend his little heart out. It's only fitting that he popped up with the winning goal to reward his tireless efforts. Paulo is key to Juventus' success right now, and when fit (knock on wood) he's got to be on the field from the start.
How much did we miss Claudio Marchisio? He truly is the heart and soul of this team. He had more touches than anyone else on the pitch, absolutely bossed the midfield and lead Juventus by example, as he does every time he steps over the white lines. Marchisio's calmness and ability on and off the ball is invaluable to this team. His presence allows Paul Pogba to do Paul Pogba things, which spells danger for anyone Juve faces.
It took a while, but Pogba is back to showing us exactly why he's the highest rated young talent in the world today. In the beginning of the year, it seemed as if he was trying to take on the entire opposing XI by himself, but now he's stepped back, taken a deep breath and put in some real quality performances. Despite his tendency to give the ball away in dangerous areas in the center of the park, Paul was magnificent. He harried Milan's midfield defensively, played some Pirlo-esque passes, and his flick to Alex Sandro to then set up Dybala's goal was absolutely world class. Welcome back Paul, we missed you.
So where do we go from here? This was an incredibly important win for Juventus, especially with Roma dropping points, and our wildly shaky form this season. Now that the team has put together a few wins on the trot, confidence looks to be slowly trickling back into this side. Milan had a couple legitimate chances, but they never really looked like troubling Juventus. That's the type of performance we need to see more of this season.
Final thoughts: I'm of the opinion that Allegri needs to pick a formation and stick to it. I've already made my case for a 4-3-3 featuring the Cuadrado-Morata-Dybala trident, but this team needs consistency of SOME sort. Without a proper trequartista, the 4-3-1-2 doesn't seem to work. As much as I love Hernanes, he simply hasn't looked the player he was at Lazio, and without some sort of drastic upturn in form, it doesn't look as if he can be counted on. January approaches, can we find some quality to really take this team to the next level? Orrrr will Marotta crush my hopes and dreams and sign Pablo Osvaldo? Only time will tell.