Some of the biggest questions and concerns facing the current Juventus team may not be gone, but the team has found a way to get over the hump and officially has its first winning streak of the season. Juventus scored early with Manuel Locatelli linking up with Paulo Dybala in the 10th minute and never gave up the lead, a welcome sight for Bianconeri fans, eventually claiming a 3-2 victory in Turin.
Max Allegri and Co. were hoping to carry over some momentum from the club’s first league win of the season earlier in the week, but there were still six changes to be made to the team with such a quick turnaround. The first of which was rather expected, as Mattia Perin got his first start of the season and his first appearance in the black and white since 2019. Matthijs de Ligt and Leonardo Bonucci still held things down in front of goal, this time being flanked by Juan Cuadrado and Alex Sandro in defense. Rodrigo Bentancur got another start in the center of the midfield, pairing with Locatelli while Federico Bernardeschi and Federico Chiesa took up the starting spots on the wing. Dybala was once again joined by Alvaro Morata up top.
In the opposite dugout, Sampdoria manager Roberto D’Aversa made just three changes to his team after getting blasted 4-0 by Napoli just three days before the trip to Turin. Fabio Quagliarella was paired in the attack with Francesco Caputo, while Antonio Candreva took on the role as the team’s catalyst from the left wing. Fabio Depaoli was inserted into the lineup to play opposite of Candreva and Albin Ekdal took on a starting role in the center of the midfield.
Both teams played out of a base 4-4-2 formation, but neither team stayed in that shape for very long. Sampdoria nearly benefited from some chaos in the opening moments, getting a corner kick and eventually seeing the first chance of the game go into the side netting on a header from Ekdal.
After a bit more possession from Blucerchiati, Juventus responded well and it took very little time to find the opening goal. Locatelli helped build up the chance for the attack and suddenly found the ball bouncing toward him at the edge of the box before letting a shot fly only for it to get blocked right back to him. This time, he slotted the ball over to Dybala, who eased a shot through the defense and into the bottom right corner to give Juventus the lead.
Paulo Dybala picked out the corner with ease pic.twitter.com/PQOZgkLKCz— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) September 26, 2021
Dybala had opportunities to add to his total, but he became the facilitator in the attack for the following 10 minutes, setting up great scoring chances for Chiesa and Morata. But neither could double the Juventus lead. Unfortunately, those were the final contributions Dybala could make, as the Argentine was forced out of the game due to what appeared to be another chapter in his long battle with muscle injuries. Dybala was in clear pain and limped off the field in the 22nd minute, being replaced by Dejan Kulusevski.
Despite the injury, Juventus still controlled the game for the next 20 minutes, finding some competent play while being in the lead for seemingly the first time this season. Kulusevski and Bernardeschi each had some individual runs to try to open up some space for Morata in the attack, but there was no real connection with the midfield without Dybala playing in the center of the field.
The next breakthrough finally came just after the 40-minute mark when Kulusevski picked out Chiesa and the Italian’s shot was blocked by the arm of Nicola Murru inside the penalty area. A penalty was eventually given with the assist from VAR, and Bonucci stepped up, sent Emil Audero the wrong way and slotted the ball into the back of the net to double the Juventus lead in the 43rd minute.
That lead did not last very long though as the defense still stayed on theme for the rest of the season. Sampdoria quickly earned a corner kick from the ensuing kickoff and Candreva once again swung in a perfect ball, this time met by the head of Maya Yoshida who powered the ball past Perin. Yoshida was essentially unmarked at the top of the 6-yard box with Bonucci putting in a challenge way too late to make a difference.
Maya Yoshida pulls one back for Sampdoria pic.twitter.com/EWJjrIpVjF— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) September 26, 2021
The second half started with more of the same from Juventus. They were certainly still in control of the match but without creating opportunities in the final third and did not really threaten the Sampdoria goal for the first 10 minutes of the half.
That all changed in the 57th minute and it was once again Locatelli pulling the strings. His chipped pass to Chiesa probably deserved an assist but Sampdoria’s defense momentarily held firm, forcing the ball back out wide before Kulusevski pounced on a lazy pass and slid the ball to the onrushing Locatelli who easily finished into an empty net, scoring his first goal for the club and restoring the two-goal lead.
Manuel Locatelli scores his first goal for Juventus ⚫⚪ pic.twitter.com/1eSbrezEhh— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) September 26, 2021
Kulusevski looked the most threatening player for Juventus for the remainder of the night, but the biggest takeaway from the final 30 minutes was the same concerns fans have had all season as Juventus looked lost playing with the lead. Chance creation was at a minimum and the defense looked unsteady at times as it just invited more and more pressure from a lesser Sampdoria squad.
The hosts would eventually pay the price as they have all season when Sampdoria cut its deficit in half in the 83rd minute. Adrien Silva was seemingly given several hours to pick out a pass from the left side of the box and he eventually found Candreva who fired the ball into the back of the net for a deserved goal for the Italian international.
Fortunately for Juventus, Sampdoria found it difficult to create any other opportunities the rest of the day. Juventus did not counter with any of its own either as the match eventually came to an anti-climactic end with the home team taking away all three points.
MATTIA PERIN – 6. Getting beat twice with only three shots on target is not great, but it’s hard to say he should’ve done more with either goal. Distribution was iffy at times but still a fine day for a backup keeper.
JUAN CUADRADO – 7. Right back Johnny was back and it was good to see. Three key passes, accurate long balls, plenty of crosses and he still held his own in defense. Solid match for the Colombian.
LEONARDO BONUCCI – 6. Another day, another classic Leo match. He did some good things, he did some not so good things. His passing was not completely up to his standard, but he still connected on a few long balls. Converted the penalty with ease. Not so great for the defending part of his game, though.
MATTHIJS DE LIGT – 6. There were certainly some big moments for de Ligt, who made a couple of crunching tackles and strong clearances. He was the most solid part of the defense, but he was still completely absent on both goals.
ALEX SANDRO – 7. It was fun to see a left-footed player play left back again. Sandro was threatening in the attack and finished the game with the highest pass accuracy of any Juventus player. His cross helped create the opening goal. A couple of really good interceptions in the second half as well.
FEDERICO CHIESA – 5.5. When you’re as good as Chiesa is, you set yourself to a higher standard, and Chiesa did not meet the expectations that come with that. He missed a big chance in the first half and was often a bystander in the attacking phase before being subbed out. His attempted shot won the penalty, so that counts for something, but still not his best night.
RODRIGO BENTANCUR – 6.5. A solid shift from the Uruguayan and definitely an improvement from his performance against Spezia. Wasn’t trying to do too much with the ball and covered well on the back end when Locatelli moved forward.
MANUEL LOCATELLI – 8.5. This was the kind of game Juventus signed Locatelli for. This was Euro-version of the Italian midfielder. A goal, an assist, aggressive passing in the final third, plenty of energy and brought the pressure when it was needed. Man of the Match for Juventus.
FEDERICO BERNARDESCHI – 6. You certainly can’t knock Bernardeschi’s ambition or aggressiveness in this game. He searched for the right passes and tried to make some runs to push Juventus forward, especially after Dybala went out. Not all of it worked out but he definitely brought something to the table.
PAULO DYBALA – 8. This really had the makings of a 9.5 kind of game for Dybala. He was phenomenal for the 20 minutes he got to play and got a well-deserved goal. Probably could have and should have had at least one assist, too. Get better soon, Paulo.
ALVARO MORATA – 6. This game featured a lot of people’s regular frustrations with Morata all in one game. He missed a chance early in the game and you could see the confidence drop a little bit. Shots were a little weaker the rest of the match. Never turned it up when Dybala went out and left things for his midfield to pick up the slack in the attack.
DEJAN KULUSEVSKI – 7. This was a tough spot for Kulusevski, but he delivered. He looked good in the second striker role and was aggressive about running at the Sampdoria defense. His pressure led to a mistake at the back before assisting on Locatelli’s goal.
GIORGIO CHIELLINI – 6. Was brought in as an extra body to defend, but Juventus looked a lot worse once he came in. Didn’t get too many touches on the ball and barely had a chance to defend but did have a late interception and a crucial clearance down the stretch.
AARON RAMSEY – 5.5. This may be harsh because he did play 20 minutes and seems to be healthy so that’s a step in the right direction. However, he did not look great in possession and was very little help tracking back.
WESTON MCKENNIE – 6. He got to show off the tracking back skills people wanted to see midweek. He also jumped around quite a bit, winning a couple of headers and even threatening on a corner kick. Still, didn’t get to do too much in just 10 minutes of action.
MOISE KEAN – NA. Just please stay healthy so you can get a 10 on these when Wednesday rolls around.
Things have certainly been better under Allegri in the past, but we may have seen one of his better games so far this season. The 4-4-2 set up seems inevitable at this point but if that’s the formation he is going to use, it’s hard to argue with his selection for this game.
Even if it’s not a permanent change, it was certainly time to give Perin a chance in goal and Allegri finally made that happen. The midfield selection of Locatelli-Bentancur may seem obvious sometimes, but it is still nice when we get it and the manager allowed it to play out for nearly a full 90 minutes.
When the early injury happened to Dybala, there were probably a few ways to handle the substitution and I’m sure a change in shape could have happened but Allegri elected to go to Kulusevski and it was absolutely the right decision. Kulusevski was not Dybala but he was a difference maker in this one and the more minutes he can get under his belt, the better it is for everybody.
There are still concerns on the defensive end of the field and eventually you have to think some of the blame needs to be put on the coaching. There are clear lapses in the back that happen at least once a game and when it becomes a habit, you can’t write it off as a one-off mistake by a player. And even more to the point, it seems these mistakes are happening when a shift in mindset happens usually when Juventus is in the lead. I’m not sure what is being yelled from the touchline during these moments, but something needs to be done about it so it doesn’t keep happening and that falls on the coaching staff.
Juventus will turn its focus to European competition now as it brings in the reigning champion Chelsea on Wednesday night. Then it’s another quick turnaround for the first derby match of the season Saturday when Juventus travel across town to the Olympic Grande Torino Stadium for a mid-table clash — and first Derby della Mole of the season — with Torino.