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Juventus 2 - Lazio 0: Initial reaction and random observations

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Juventus FC v SS Lazio - Serie A Photo by Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images

What’s the easiest way to prevent Federico Marchetti from doing his usual Federico Marchetti thing in goal against Juventus? Well, just score with pretty much every shot you take.

Or, at least the first couple of times.

That’s exactly how Juventus was able to build its two-goal lead within 20 minutes against Lazio on Sunday afternoon in Turin, with the Argentinian golden boys otherwise known as Paulo Dybala and Gonzalo Higuain scoring on shot attempts Nos. 1 and 2 to power Juve to a quality bounceback win.

We wanted to see how Juventus were going to rebound after the latest stumble last weekend against Fiorentina at the Franchi. We wanted to see if Juventus could shrug off that display and start to resemble the team we saw at the beginning of December when they looked like they were starting to play some of their best ball of the season.

That’s what we got.

Not only did we get a new formation from Max Allegri that worked pretty darn well, but we saw a Juventus side that was able to play a pretty appealing brand of football on top of it. I know, hard to believe after what we’ve seen this season, right? But, no. It’s a true statement.

Juventus put forth one of their better efforts all season. They showed absolutely no signs of a hangover from the Fiorentina loss seven days earlier. They not only looked fresh, but they were able to take control of the game almost immediately and then implement what they wanted to do with a lead in hand from that point forward.

That’s what we wanted to see.

And we got it.

Credit where credit is due: Allegri got this one right. Juventus needed a change after their latest slip up, he delivered said change and they proved it to be the right one on the field. It doesn’t work any better than that, folks.

RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS

  • At his pre-match press conference on Saturday, Allegri said that Marko Pjaca was “in line to feature” against Lazio. I guess the new translation for “feature” is to “start the game on the bench.” Or maybe I’m just sounding like a disgruntled Pjaca fanboy as I type this part of the post-game thread out 55 minutes before kickoff.
  • Thoughts of the new 4-2-3-1 after the first half: That’s more like it.
  • Thoughts of the new 4-2-3-1 after the first second half: Yep, still pretty good.
  • Miralem Pjanic’s defensive game on Sunday: Five interceptions, a team-high total; Five tackles, also a team-high total. Not bad for his first game in a double-pivot this season.
  • It took all of about 10 or 11 minutes for Stephan Lichtsteiner to get the back of his jersey covered in grass. It was very much a classic Lichtsteiner game against his former club on Sunday afternoon, and the grass stain was just one of the first fitting instances of that for the Swiss Express.
  • If there was a little more precision in Dybala’s boots in the opening 20 minutes of the second half he could have had a hat trick. You could look at it two ways: Dybala either has a little bit more to go before he truly hits his form or that with the amount of chances he had that he’s starting to really get involved in the attack. No matter what, Dybala scoring goals is a very, very good thing to happen.
  • The hold up play on that Dybala opener? Mario Mandzukic.
  • The striker who heard his name sung throughout Juventus Stadium for his efforts on the defensive side of the ball? Mario Mandzukic.
  • For a guy who has earned the nickname of Mr. No Good, Mario Mandzukic has been pretty good this season, hasn’t he? (If you disagree, I’m just going to have Mandzukic himself come over and fight you. Good luck with that.)
  • Higuain got so inspired by Mandzukic’s defensive work that he, too, sprinted his tail off and won a tackle back in Juventus’ third of the field. Sounds like a pretty good influence.
  • There were lots of good things to come out of Allegri going to the 4-2-3-1. Sami Khedira, somebody we talked about in the match preview, wasn’t exactly one of them. You’ve got to wonder that if this formation is going to be a main feature going forward, where does Claudio Marchisio fit into it. Could it be for Khedira? Seems like a logical step.
  • I like when Gigi Buffon gets a shutout. You should, too.
  • Back to plus-4 for at least a couple of hours. That’s more like it.