I didn't take what happened in Munich well. Sure, I was proud of our display but seeing Juventus get five to six minutes from beating Bayern Munich, to then lose was devastating. I avoided anything Juve until today. My worry was that the boys would be equally affected by the loss. Not caring so much about the game, or not preparing well for it.
Of course, I am a fan, whereas they are professionals, and for them, what happened in Munich was a lesson and a source of strength and motivation. And if we are talking about motivation, there was plenty this game. There was Gigi Buffon's record, and also, there were bragging rights for the winner of the Derby della Mole.
So all in all, a team coming back from a tough loss, playing a game with lots of history and the possibility to make history.
Juventus started with a classic 3-5-2, with Daniele Rugani, Leonardo Bonucci and Andrea Barzagli covering Buffon; Stephan Lichtsteiner and Alex Sandro on the wings and Sami Khedira, Mario Lemina, and Paul Pogba in the middle of the park; up front Mario Mandzukic and Paulo Dybala were leading the charge.
The first 15 minutes of the match were really intense, partly because of Gigi's record. It seemed like Juventus were in the dying minutes of a 1-0 game holding on to prevent Torino from scoring a goal. However, nothing happened for the first four inutes when Gigi took the goalless record from Sebastiano Rossi. A befitting honor for who I consider is the best keeper of all time and certainly of our generation.
Once we got past those four minutes, I realized the game was really physical. Juventus were fouling Toro players and vice versa. Referee Nicola Rizzoli thought that he could just talk players out of committing fouls but instead he appeared to lose control of the match. After 29 minutes of play, and out of nowhere Dybala pulled a muscle and was substituted by Álvaro Morata. Dybala came off after Juventus got a free kick in their favor. Pogba stepped up to take the free kick and curled it like Andrea Pirlo would have a few years ago. It certainly would have made Il Maestro proud.
With Juventus going ahead there was plenty of space to be exploited but the teams continued to hack at each other for the remaining of the half. Then, after 41 minutes of play, Khedira intercepted a pass a run unchallenged to the Torino goal. When Kamil Glik noticed that Khedira was heading straight for goal it was too late. Sami released a well-positioned shot to the side of Padelli and Juventus were up 2-0.
The second half started at a pretty frantic pace and that is when Buffon's record ended. Bruno Peres was given too much room and Sandro tackled him from behind. This was one of those fouls that was 50/50. Sandro got the ball, but he came in from behind, and in the speed of the play the ref decided to give it to Torino. Andrea Bellotti coolly scored leaving the new record to beat at 974 minutes.
May it be Buffon to beat his own record in the future. The Juve players were not rattled by the score, reminiscent of Munich a few days back. Instead, they got back to attack. After 50 minutes, Lichtsteiner came off for Juan Cuadrado to show Torino that Juventus were not backing down at 2-1. And Morata was intent on putting any ghosts to bed. After 63 minutes, Morata controlled a perfect pass from Pogba and made it 3-1. The Pogba-Morata connection paid dividends again, with the Frenchman assisting the Spaniard of a failed free-kick. The Derby will see Juventus emerge victorious again, maintaining a 3-point distance with Napoli ahead of the international break.
Buffon 10 I can care less about the goal, because of him all of us got to see history in the making. If that is not a 10, I don't know what is.
Barzagli 7.5 Once again the strongest player in the backline. And that says lots because Bonucci and Rugani were close to perfect today. He started on the left but then moved to right exchanging places with Rugani. Theories as to why? Leave them in the comments section below.
Bonucci 7.0 Did very well and his passing is always great. He could have set Pogba for a second goal but the pass was just a tad too strong.
Rugani 7.5 Rugani was grown leaps and bounds lately, and that is no surprise as 33% of his playing minutes have come in the last two games. With five interceptions and three tackles, you can see that he is both very good at reading and taking action when needed.
Lichtsteiner 6.5 Solid defensively and combined well with Khedira and Lemina to open up spaces up front.
Khedira 6.0 Yes he scored a goal, but a player of his experience should not be getting a red card for mouthing at the referee. Minus one point for the red card, otherwise he played a great game. Most importantly he is staying fit.
Lemina 7.0 Three tackles and five interceptions. He is a solid presence in the middle and I am glad to see Allegri picking the the on-loan Gabonese midfielder over Hernanes.
Pogba 8.0 He started a little subdued but then grew into the game and showed everything he is capable off. One greatly placed free kick and two assists. Never mind his five dribbles, six tackles and two interceptions. He was simply unstoppable.
Sandro 7.0 A thorn on Torino's side. He attempted 10 dribbles and succeeded in six. Although he is to blame for the goal, we allowed that was a 50/50 challenge. He shouldn't have done it, but I am sure he learned to trust the rest of the team to help clear those balls.
Mandzukic 6.5 His moving was crucial in making space for Khedira's goal and he was full of running for the first 30 minutes of the match. But besides that, his contributions really diminished. I don't know if he is carrying an injury or if he is physically exhausted but no matter what I hope we see more Zaza or Morata over the next few weeks.
Dybala s.v. Didn't really have a chance to do much. With that being said, he had a beautiful slalom run that was shaping up like a beautiful goal but then he lost his balance. Let's hope the injury has a quick recovery time.
Morata 7.5 The last few matches we have seen the real Morata back. His second goal was not an ease feat, but he managed to control the ball and put it past the keeper in an acrobatic fashion. You can tell that goal meant a lot to him.
Things I think I think
- Buffon and the team should be proud of what they accomplished today. I also think this team has it in them to beat this same record in the future.
- Rugani is making the most of his chances. Last week his improvement from first to second half was great. Today he had an even better match. Because of Allegri's tactical switch of Rugani with Barzagli, I imagine that Rugani prefers to play on the left of defense. If that is the case it will be interesting to see what happens when Chiellini comes back.
- Licthsteiner's minutes have been in short supply today. It looks to me like Allegri prefers a more attacking minded player on the wings. I don't see Lichtsteiner as being physically unable to carry the task, instead I see Allegri's vision of what the team should be like moving forward.
- Pogba has so much left to give this club and Juventus is still the best place for the Frenchman to make his mark. I know that, and I hope he recognizes this as well.
- Morata is finding his form again, a little late in the season but he is coming back. I still don't know if he is the best partner for Dybala but hopefully we can test that when the two players are firing on all cylinders.
- Rizzoli refereeing was terrible for both sides. Referees need to protect players like Dybala, not let them get hacked time and time again. Just because Dybala doesn't roll around and hold his face like he just got shot it doesn't mean he wasn't fouled.