With the Scudetto already in hand, it was time for the Old Lady to have a lunchtime in Italy kickoff.
Massimiliano Allegri would send out a 3-5-2 lineup with Gianluigi Buffon in goal, in front of him would be Patrice Evra, Leonardo Bonucci (and his brilliant mustache) and Dainele Rugani. The midfield shaped up well with Alex Sandro, Kwadwo Asamoah, Paul Pogba , Hernanes and Juan Cuadrado. Rounding things out up top would be Mario Mandžukić and Álvaro Morata all of which would cause all sorts of problems for Carpi.
The action would pick up in the seventh minute as Bonucci would send a sublime ball into the box for Pogba who could only get a toe one it, but not enough to put in the back of the net. Early on the bianconeri looked as though they were a bit too relaxed after their celebration on Monday. It would at times effect the passing though even with the missed passing there was nothing the opposing side could do with any opportunity.
One thing Carpi had on their mind was, fouling and fouling hard. It would take long for Morata draw their attention and anytime they could get a chance they would foul him often and hard. They were definitely a rough and tumble side and had a game plan coming into the match and boy did they stick to it. Which included clogging up the middle of the field causing Juve to play out wide.
Just how wide? Take a look at Pogba's heat map.
Most of his drifting to the other side of the pitch was during the second half, he stayed mostly on the right the entire time, now look at it when you add in Alex Sandro to the mix on that side as well.
You get something like this:
I'd pretty much say that the both of them had that side on lock down. After, in my opinion, some pretty boring football, Juve picked up the pace and woke out of their slight slumber to Carpi's determent. Two minutes later, Alex Sandro crossed a ball into the box looking for the head of Mandzukic, who got a head on the ball only for it to go wide. It wouldn't be until the 20th minute when Buffon would have to do some work. Carpi would threaten in their own way, getting one shot on goal that Buffon easily turned aside.
The action on the other end of the pitch picked in the 23rd minute. Sandro sent a cross into the box, Mandzukic got a part of his head on it, but it bounced out to the waiting foot of Paul Pogba, who rifled a shot only to have it blocked. This would be how the game would go, bursts of action interspersed with Juve playing keep away from Carpi.
Mandzukic picked up a yellow in the box on a Cuadrado corner for going all body slam on a Capri player. Yellow cards were no strangers in this match, not with the rough and tumble play of the visiting side. Capri tried and to threaten again in the 34th minute that would fizzle out, like most of their attacking plays on the day. There's a reason their only their points from the relegation zone.
The 0-0 deadlock would come to an end in the 42nd minute on a Hernanes goal, his first for the Old Lady. It also ended a nine-month goalless streak for the Brazilian. The build up was a beautiful as it coupled with Pogba hitting the switch to Asamoah who chested the cross down and sent it to the feet of Hernanes, who slid it past the goalkeeper just outside the 18-yard box.
Juve up 1-0 and that's how the half ended.
At the restart, Allegri chose to sub off Morata and bring on Simone Zaza in a like-for-like swap — which was probably a good thing as Morata was the subject of several rough challenges in the first half and why risk it when there is no real reason too.
Carpi came out after the half and picked up where they left off, banging bodies around and only getting shots off at distance. Really it was pretty boring football being played, with not a lot of action caught my mind drifting to whether or not I left the coffee on, what I was going to wear to work and twitter. You'd think a team three points from relegation would put up a bit more of a fight but every time they'd look to string something together Juve was there to remind them of who was really in control of the match. In the 52nd minute, Rugani picked up a yellow, only his second in as many games this season.
It went back to being a bit drab until the 68th minute, where Pogba lofted a pretty sweet cross into the box looking for Manduzukic, who just couldn't get on the end of it. Pogba pretty much owned the pitch, he toyed with Carpi players at times and all they could do is sit and watch as he'd from time to time put on a dribbling clinic.
Carpi got a shot on goal in the 76th minute that just curl past the post on a shot from distance there only real clear cut chance since the first half. Things started to pick up as Juve would start pressing again playing the predator looking for it's next meal. In the 79th minute we got a glance and what was coming as substitute Stephan Lichtsteiner whipped a ball into the box for Simone Zaza, who wasn't able to connect.
The ball kicked back outside the box on the right. The 80th minute saw through a beautiful cross from Pogba into Zaza, who headed it into the back of the net to give Juve a 2-0. And that's how it played out — a 2-0 win over a team who really couldn't afford to drop points. Juve are now unbeaten since the final day of October in Serie A, a streak we hope will continue into the end of the season and see us on to the Coppa Italia, where there's another trophy waiting for the Bianconeri.
Buffon 10: He really didn't have much to do, and when called to action he got the job done. So I see no reason why not to give him a straight up 10. Rack up another clean sheet.
Evra 7.5: He put in another solid performance, Solid, a rock in the back. He rocked a 96 percent pass completion.
Bonucci 8.5: His sublime pass to Pogba in the seventh minute were things that dreams and unicorns were made of, it would even been better had Pogab been able to put in the net.
Rugani 8.0: He picked up a silly yellow. Other than that indiscretion he was solid helping break up what little attack that Carpi were able to muster. Highlight for him were 3 tackles and 3 aerials won.
Alex Sandro 8.5: Had three chances created, including that chance with Mandzukic and Pogba in the 23rd minute.
Asamoah 7.9: Picked up an assist on Hermanes' goal with a beautiful pass.
Hernanes 8.0: Ended a 9 month scoring drought. First goal in a Juventus kit.
Pogba 9.0: Picked up an assist on Zaza's 80th-minute goal and owned the pitch. What else was there to say? He was all over the place, if you forgot scroll up for the heat maps.
Cuadrado 7.5: Another great outing for him. He created three chances today all from set plays. He's just so stinking fast and had a few nice open runs during the course of the match.
Mandžukić 7.5: Solid.
Morata 7.0: Getting beat up for the most part wasn't part of the plan. Still he had a shot blocked and another that was just off target.
Things I think I think
- As a man with facial hair, I've got a bit of 'stache envy.
- Don't get me started on BeIn Sports. Seriously. Bite me.
- Love how the defense snuffed out each and everyone of Carpi's attacks, if you really can call it that. They fought but just didn't have what it takes to score for the first time ever on Juve.
- Hermanes, Mandzukic and Pogba are going to miss the next match due to yellow card accumulation.