The Juventus rampage continued midweek, with a slender yet fairly comfortable win over Genoa. That win brought the club record thirteenth consecutive win in a single Serie A season, and more importantly kept Juventus only two points back of league leaders Napoli.
This trip to the capital to face Frosinone, at the tiny Stadio Manusa, gave Juventus another opportunity to gain revenge on a team that had a hand in the Bianconeri's worst league start for some time. For those that need reminding, Frosinone earned their first ever Serie A point at the Juventus Stadium back in September. This was also notable for the fact that the equalizing goal came from Leonardo Blanchard — who admitted that to being a lifelong Juventus fan; so much so, that he was with the Juve Ultras in Berlin for last May's UEFA Champions League final, where Juventus lost to Barcelona.
After the season-ending injury to Martin Caceres midweek, Andrea Barzagli slotted back into his usual position on the right of the back three. Juan Cuadrado kept his spot at right wingback after an impressive showing against Genoa, and Alex Sandro gave Patrice Evra a rest after the Frenchman came down with the flu earlier in the week. Stefano Sturaro got his ninth start of the season, replacing the injured Sami Khedira in midfield. Simone Zaza would sit out his one-game ban for his silly red card against Genoa. Despite all these players missing (Mario Mandzukic and Kwadwo Asamoah were also out), Max Allegri welcomed back Mario Lemina from a long-term injury and had Roberto Pereyra on the bench again.
As expected, Juventus started on the front foot, with Frosinone seemingly content to sit back and frustrate the Bianconeri and play on the break. The first chance of the game fell to Sturaro, who dove in at the far post, but could not make contact on a teasing Alex Sandro cross with his volley attempt.
A few minutes later, the minnows from the capital city fashioned a lovely chance. Blanchard, with a Leonardo Bonucci-esque chipped pass, found the skipper Daniele Ciofani running in behind the Juve defence, but his cushioned volley was just wide of Gigi Buffon's far post. If it was on target, it would have been a great goal as Buffon was rooted to his spot.
Sturaro was very active in the first half, and the next time Alex Sandro put in a cross, the midfielder got on the end of this one. Unfortunately, it was tame and was easy for Juventus loanee Nicola Leali to hold on to. On 34 minutes, Alex Sandro found Sturaro again, this time at the top of the "D" and Sturaro's drive forced Leali into a save. Paulo Dybala blazed the rebound over the bar, but was offside, so it wouldn't have counted anyway.
Some lovely one touch play by Juve fell to Dybala, who wriggled free in the box and played a ball across for Paul Pogba waiting in the middle, but the clearance was made by a Frosinone defender. The last chance of the first half, and arguably the best, fell to Alvaro Morata; the Spaniard with some nice skill broke free in the box, but showed too much to Leali and the goalie smothered his attempt. Goalless at the half.
Juventus started the second half with more urgency than the first. Cuadrado got the first shot on goal, with a drive from outside the box on fifty-one minutes which was straight at Leali. From a Claudio Marchisio cross field pass, Alex Sandro controlled and found Morata, who played it forward for Dybala, who then found Pogba at the top of the box; the Frenchman then improvised to get an opening for a left footed shot that was deflected wide for a corner.
Marchisio whipped in an effort from the top of the box, but there was too much lift on his shot and Leali was untroubled. Leali flapped at a Dybala free kick, but substitute Roberto Pereyra — making his first appearance since October 2015 — couldn't direct his effort on target.
There was a moment of controversy, as an enterprising run from Cuadrado found Dybala in the box, and the Argentinian's cross was deflected out of play seemingly by the hand of Blanchard. Juve's protests fell on deaf ears, however, and a corner was given. Replays suggest that it may have come off the defender's face.
Dybala came the closest to opening the scoring on seventy-two minutes, as his left footed curled shot beat the keeper but came off the upright. That proved to be Frosinone's last warning, as just one minute later Juve opened the scoring. Pogba played Alex Sandro down the left and the Brazilian split the defence with a cross that was slammed home at the far post by Cuadrado. It was the Colombian's third goal of the season and his first since the win against Fiorentina.
Frosinone threatened a bit after the goal, forcing Juve into some last ditch tackles but still not getting anything on target. The three points were wrapped up in stoppage time of the second half. Great, strong centre forward play by Morata, and rather than go for goal himself, the Spaniard unselfishly set up Dybala to slam home from just inside the box.
There was even time for Pogba to get a quality attempt on goal, in the last minute of stoppage time, with Leali again having to come up big to deny Juventus a third.
Buffon 6.5 Quiet night for Superman, though he was left rooted to the spot on one occasion. Otherwise, did not face a single shot on goal.
Barzagli 7 Handled pretty much everything that came his way. Was caught up the field on one occasion (though, he was clearly fouled by Davide Dionisi on that play), but he still got back well.
Bonucci 7 Same as with Barza, was mostly untroubled over the ninety minutes.
Chiellini 7 Returning from injury, Chiello put in a solid shift, some wayward passing aside.
Cuadrado 7.5 Great performance by the Colombian, capped off with the go-ahead goal. Was a constant thorn in the side of the Frosinone defence. Could still improve his crossing and shooting.
Sturaro 6.5 Starting in place of the injured Khedira, the young Italian midfielder gave a solid showing, though he should have gotten on the scoresheet himself.
Marchisio 7 Did what was expected of him without much fuss. Kept play moving along and spread the play nicely. Intercepted a few passes on the defensive end as well.
Pogba 7 Played his part in the first goal, and displayed his vast array of skill of a number of occasions. Could have been more effective with some of his passes and his shooting.
Alex Sandro 7.5 The type of display we've come to expect from our Brazilian wing wizard. Assured on both sides of the ball, he put in a number of good crosses and passes (one that should have been finished by Sturaro), was never beaten by his man and assisted on the first goal.
Dybala 7.5 He was busy all game, linking up well with Pogba in midfield and generally making himself available to be involved in the attack. When his shot cannoned back off the upright, it seemed like his mini-drought in front of goal would continue. But he set that right by finishing with aplomb in stoppage time.
Morata 6.5 Should have done better with his chance at the stroke of halftime, but he kept on plugging and brilliantly set up Dybala for the second goal — where he could have very well gone for goal himself.
Pereyra 6 Hard to judge given that this was El Tucumano's first game back in months. He did have an opportunity to score the opener after coming on, which he put wide - then again, goal scoring has never been his strong point. Glad to have him back.
Rugani 6 Came on at a time when Frosinone were threatening a bit, and he helped to weather the storm.
Favilli s/v Nice to see the Primavera talent make his top flight debut; unfortunately, he did not touch the ball.
THINGS I THINK I THINK
- That's 14 (!) wins a row, people. The Serie A record is 17, set by Internazionale in that season*. And as we all know, anything Inter can do, Juve can do better.
- I'd like to see Marchisio taking more shots. I know his game is not necessarily to score goals, but often he gets into spaces where he can take decent quality shots on goal and he chooses to pass instead. He did that a lot today.
- It still amazes me just how strong on the ball Pogba is, given his wiry frame. He really does resemble Patrick Vieira in that regard.
- With Pereyra back, could we possibly see the four-man backline return soon? As we've seen in recent years, this tends to work better in Europe, and with Bayern Munich on the horizon, maybe we will see Allegri try to work this back into the fold. We'll see.
- Next up is the big one: Napoli at the Juventus Stadium. The Partenopei won again today, and had a difficult time much like we did, but they remain two points ahead. With both sides on historical winning streaks, something will have to give in Turin.