Before gong into this game we knew three things: Juventus have the better team, Juve-Inter is a special game, this could be a risky game where the underdog comes out on top. After 90 minutes of play, only the first point was made abundantly clear. The game was not really special in terms of competition -- I mean, beating Inter is always special but I digress -- and at no point were Juventus at risk of being surprised. With a three-goal advantage going into the return leg at the beginning of March, the Old Lady has one foot on the final.
Juventus lined up with their classic 3-5-2 with Alvaro Morata and Mario Mandzukic leading the attack, Juan Cuadrado and Kwadwo Asamoah giving Stephan Lichtstiner and Sami Khedira some rest in the middle of the field, and Martin Caceres taking the spot of Andrea Barzagli at the right of the defense. One tactical surprise was the shift of Paul Pogba to the right side of Claudio Marchisio to play Asamoah in his natural position.
Juventus controlled the game from its onset while Inter sat back hoping to contain the Old Lady. After 13 minutes, Juventus should have received a penalty from a Gary Medel's handball in the box that Tagliavento didn't see or was too scared to call.
Then began the Morata show.
Thirty-five minutes into the match Cuadrado was fouled by Murillo in the box, showing that you can grow balls in 22 minutes referee Paolo Tagliavento pointed at the spot. Now, I don't know about you, but when Morata was setting up the penalty kick, I was terrified he would miss. My fear was not because Juventus would squander a good chance, it seemed clear we were not losing this one, my concern was for Morata's self esteem if he failed to score. Morata proved me wrong taking one of the most confident penalty kicks you can imagine. It was great seeing him celebrate.
Things will only get worse for Inter after the break.
Juventus continued to control the game, Cuadrado was terrorizing Inter's left wing but the second goal came from the other side. Morata scored his first goal from open play in who knows how long to bring Juventus up 2-0. To make things better the assist will come from ex-Juventino Felipe Melo. The evening will be sealed with a red card for Inter and a spectacular goal from Paulo Dybala (rumors are Samir Handanovic is still looking for the ball).
Neto 6.5 He had one save to make the whole game and he made it look great. Buffon clapping was the icing on the cake.
Caceres 6.5 Did what was asked of him, we didn't really miss Barzagli last night.
Bonucci 7.0 Great game creating a number of opportunities from the back. His composure on the ball is second-to-none.
Chiellini 7.0 I know I may get some flak for this, as Chiellini kept falling over and drawing unnecessary fouls. To some it may be unnecessary time wasting, to me this was furbizia at its best. Every time Inter will build any momentum Chiellini will slow down proceedings.
Cuadrado 7.5 His best game in bianconero. Got us the penalty and made sure Murillo will be missing next match. He is cutting in a lot more and passing the ball more than ever in the past.
Pogba 7.0 He showed Kondogbia who is boss. Controlled the game well and had some nice flicks and touches to go with it.
Marchisio 7.5 His positioning and calm are invaluable in the team at the moment. Moreover, I noticed that he has add some flair to some of the moves he makes. He is really enjoying his football and the Old Lady couldn't be happier.
Asamoah 7.0 Had a great game showing to be a viable alternative for our midfield roation.
Evra 7.0 Involved in the buildup of the second goal, made sure nothing came from Inter on his wing.
Mandzukic 6.5 Had a good game and worked for the squad.
Morata 7.5 He needed this so bad and came back with two huge goals. He could have had a hat-trick showing he still needs to sharpen his shooting a little more.
THINGS I THINK I THINK
- I don't know about you, but I loved watching Juventus up 2-0 and 3-0 and still defending with as much -- if not more -- commitment than when the game was scoreless.
- I liked how the team can switch from offensive to defensive based on who plays on the wings. I don't know that Cuadrado and Alex Sandro have started together recently but I think that Max is cautious to move his team too far forward. However, it is nice to see we have the option if we need to.
- How good was Asamoah?
- A few months ago, Kwadwo came out to say that Juventus has been supportive during his time on the sidelines. Morata had similar comments after tthis game, thanking the club and his teammates for all the support during his dry spell. Nice to see the family sense is still there.