This was a key match for the Bianconeri and their aspirations in Serie A. They visited Liguria looking for momentum and confidence in the domestic championship. Maybe it wasn´t pretty, but Juventus captured their first victory of the season with a solid exhibition against the Grifone.
Massimiliano Allegri presented a 4-3-3 formation, similar of what he displayed this past Tuesday in Manchester. The biggest highlight in the lineup was the debut of Mario Lamina, as the youngster started along with countryman Paul Pogba and Stefano Sturaro in the middle of the park.
In the other side, Gian Piero Gasperini, a well-known attack-minded coach, deployed a 3-4-3/3-5-2 arrangement with Diego Perotti playing as a faux prima punta. On paper, the two managers promised a very entertaining game.
The match began extremely even with the two sides attacking and exchanging some unclear opportunities. However, at the 20th minute, Allegri´s plans for the match changed briskly when Álvaro Morata had to leave the tie due to a groin injury. Max chose Roberto Pereyra to replace the Spaniard.
Fifteen minutes later, "El Tucumano" proved his worth in a blooper-like play. Pereyra dribbled Issa Cissokho and executed a brilliant cross that found an unmarked Pogba at the far post. The Frenchman volley crashed the bar and ricocheted off Genoa goalkeeper Eugenio Lamanna, after the rebound the ball found slowly the back of the net. Juventus was ahead.
Shortly after, Juan Cuadrado intercepted the ball cleanly in the midfield, he accelerated towards Lamanna, but Armando Izzo fouled him. This action represented the second yellow card for the Genoa's defender, who must departed the game earlier and left his side with 10 men on the pitch.
The second half was dominated by the Bianconeri, who harassed Genoa early and often. Juventus showed patience in the early stages, clinically testing the Rossoblue's defense.
At the 58th minute Diogo Figueiras -who just entered in the game- innocently fouled Giorgio Chellini inside Genoa's penalty area. Pogba took the ball and executed the penalty with a lot of class. After this, Allegri's men managed the match smartly.
It's hard to remember a really treating play by Genoa; nevertheless Mario Mandzukic and Cuadrado could easily put their names on the scoreboard with better finishes.
Juventus was superior and deserves the victory. Now, it's time to hunt the championship leaders.
Buffon 6 The Juventus captain was hardly tested. However, San Gigi always make everything looks easy.
Litchsteiner 6.5 Combined well with Cuadrado in the right flank. Kept Diego Laxalt in check.
Barzagli 6.5 Signature game for the "Great Wall of Barza." He was a metronome in the Bianconeri's defense.
Chiellini 7 Won the penalty that meant Juve's second goal. Played a great game in defense.
Evra 6.5 Managed the game with composure and experience. He enjoyed an easy afternoon.
Sturaro 6.5 Stefano was a Ninja in this match. He seems invisible, yet he had a strong influence in Juventus midfield.
Lamina 6 The French kid played a solid game in his debut; he covered a lot of grass and had adequate ball skills. My only concern is that he committed a lot of fouls.
Pogba 7 A true leader in the pitch, always looking for the ball. He was a participant in both goals and executed the penalty masterfully.
Cuadrado 7 The spark of Juventus' attack. It looks like he's really enjoying his time at Turin. Provoked fear and havoc in Genoa's defense.
Mandzukic 5 Unfortunate performance by the Croatian. Looked slow and without concentration. He failed badly in a couple of scoring chances.
Morata 6.5 Looked prepared to have another brilliant performance. He was forced to leave the pitch due to an injury.
Pereyra 7.5 Great game by the Argentinian. Entered in a very delicate situation and responded exceptionally. He was relevant with his playmaking ability and crafted Juventus first goal. Man of the match for me.
Hernanes s/v Entered for Lamina in the final minutes. Helped to close the game with his skills and smarts.
Zaza s/v Entered for Mandzukic and played his first official minutes with Juventus. Rarely touched the ball.
Allegri 6.5 Kudos to Max, who stayed with the 4-3-3 formation and debuted Mario Lamina. He reacted smartly to Morata's injury calling Pereyra. Once again the Livornian coach proved that he could adapt to any circumstance.
Things I think I think
- Quoting our own Danny Penza: "injuries are stupid." Let´s hope Álvaro Morata is fine.
- I really miss you, Carlitos. This match should/could be in the cooler earlier. I'm a Mandzukic believer, but Juventus needs to be more cynical in attack - and not just today-.
- Lamina played a solid game today and proved that he can contribute. Please, Bayern, stay away!
- Juventus played with a pack of hounds in their midfield. They were really hard to pass. That said, I can't wait for Marchisio to return.
- So our 2015-16 season finally begins. Watch out Serie A!