Lazio 0 – 2 Juventus

By tdf, December 5, 2015


Player Ratings


Evergreen and majestic. Santo Buffon had a quiet night. Came for crosses with authority, handled the two shots which went straight at him with ease and tried to play the ball out short from the back whenever possible. Untested. 7


Never troubled, firm in the challenge and tried to support the front men when circumstances allowed. Due to the width of Lazio he was unable to regularly make up numbers in the final third but went about his business deeper with confidence and composure. 7


His covering and positioning is a joy to behold. When fit and sharp, as he is close to now, Barzagli is one of the finest centre-backs in the world. Made light work of all challenges, offered no space to his opponents. Seemingly quiet, but everywhere he needed to be. 7


Hardly noticed throughout. Solid in the air, robust in the challenge, kept things simple and flowing. 7

chiellini, juventus, bandage, blood, warrior

King Giorgio back in his element…bloodied and leading the charge.


Ubiquitous in defence. King Giorgio is hitting his stride. Indomitable in the air. Harried and chopped and scythed with perfection. Definitely stepped up a gear in recent weeks and has taken over from Bonucci as the CB able to carry the ball out of defence as high as progress allows. Fought until the final whistle and when Lazio created their best chance of the game, late on, it was the bandaged warrior who did enough to worry Klose into scuffing his shot. Whilst Dybala will steal the plaudits, Chiellini’s impeccable, powerful display wins him my vote for Man of the Match. Superb. 8.5


Dynamic on the flank and his talent on the ball allows him to transition from defence to attack in the blink of an eye. Played some beautiful, quick one touch passing with Dybala and Asamoah , distribution from the wing was consistently top drawer and looked assured throughout. Great pace, wonderful potential. The 24 year old Brazilian is beginning to look like a wonderful signing by Beppe. 8


Still far from top form. Il Principino is one of those players who takes a while to regain full match sharpness after a lengthy injury lay-off. Hardly showed in the final third, other than with a great effort from range in the dying minutes. Other than which, positioned himself in an anchor man role, shielding the defence, adding guile and pressure to the stalwart rearguard routine. Fitness is improving and the sharpness will come, but presently he is far removed from the Pirlo regista impersonator we saw last term. This may well be directed from Allegri, or it could simply be a case of a constantly changing midfield around him and Claudio sticking to the task first and foremost of anchoring the team. Solid hatchet man work. 6.5.


A quiet game by the youngster’s recent standards, yet he hustled and bustled, avoided putting a foot out of place and contributed well enough to keeping the ball moving and protected the defence. Always eager to receive and either drive forward or release the ball. His development is coming along very nicely indeed. A respectable showing. 7

asamoah, juventus, lazio, serie a

Back from the dead…Asamoah returned to first team action with a sturdy showing in Rome.


His first start for many moons with his inclusion in the starting XI more forced by the absence of Pogba and Khedira than ideal. Regardless, it is a major bonus for the side to have him back in the ranks, and he will improve in potency as he picks up more minutes. Deployed in his more natural CM role, the Ghanian proved solid in both halves of the field, appeared naturally comfortable with Sandro and earns the applause of the coach and myself for plugging the Pogba hole with strength and impressive drive. 7


Whilst the absence of Morata from the starting XI alongside recent comments of the coach regarding the Spaniard’s form may well be bothering both fans and the player, on Mario’s showing last night, I can have no complaints. For the giant Croat is clearly moving up the gears. His pace, determination, closing down and link up play was dripping with class. Every part of his game is improving and still there is clearly more to come. If a striker is nowhere near any goalscoring chances, we can but hope that he works damn hard all over the field. And on this score, our towering prima punta was quality. Gave the opponents not a second rest, brilliantly assisted in defensive scenarios making great use of his ability in the air and is proving Allegri right with his selection over Morata. 7.5


7 goals and 3 assists from 10 starts in Serie A is a fine return for a 22 year old signed for huge sacks of gold in the Summer. His confidence is growing as he becomes more comfortable in the role playing in between the front and midfield lines. His turn of pace is good, yet I suspect can be further improved and his touch is phenomenal. Always eager to play one touch football, composed when adding a carefully applied dose of flair to escape from tight positions and more clinical in and around the box game by game. Still needs to work on his shooting, but he forced the first by finding the perfect position for a rebound and the manner in which he conjured and executed the second strike was nothing short of world class. It must be noted that Allegri is morphing Dybala into a role reminiscent of Tevez, which is markedly different from where he found such success last season at Palermo. Rather than finding himself on the end of attacking moves, he is using his speed, control and quality on the ball to roam often deep, intercept, receive the ball and get the team moving up field with lightning speed. At his age there is huge depth for improvement, and whilst I was initially concerned that the weight of the transfer fee and move to a big club might sit heavy on his young shoulders, Paulo is demonstrating incredible professionalism and maturity, working hard and reaping the rewards. The kid is probably destined for greatness. 8


Confidence is flowing through the ranks ever more vigorously with each victory. Our last five fixtures have seen us win five, concede once, score ten. It comes as no surprise that this upturn in form comes with key players returning from injury but also the re-emergence of the tried and tested 3-5-2. The defence has regained its resolute tightness. We are conceding barely any clear cut chances to opponents with Chellini, Barzagli and Lichsteiner concreting the defensive blockade. Sandro is offering a potent threat going forward when deployed and I add my voice to the chorus demanding that he start more games in place of the dependable, but less useful in the final third Evra. Bonucci can still improve, and will do in time, or perhaps Rugani will find himself given a chance. Still, with clean sheets suddenly becoming the norm, I highly doubt Allegri will make any changes to the stunningly sturdy BBC routine.

We are finally beginning to look like a team. And there are many positives to outweigh the only negative, though the latter must be mentioned.

Other than the goals, one of which was fortunate, the other a moment of sublime genius, we created next to nothing. Dybala roaming often quite deep to find the ball led to a body removed from the the final third, which wasn’t covered by the midfield. Mainly it was Sandro pushing up to make up numbers and offer support. This will be cured with Pogba back in the side and also with the return of Khedira, for the German presence will allow Marchisio more opportunity to bomb forward. Still, it must be mentioned that we were lacking creativity in the final third.

The positives are plentiful…

Dybala, Mandzukic, Sandro, Barzagli, Chiellini and Lichsteiner are all hitting decent form. The others are regaining fitness and finesse. We are winning games, deservedly, and affording our opponents barely any clear cut chances. Harrying the opposition in numbers, winning most of the 50/50 balls and dominating in the air. Locking down the defence whilst developing play up the field with intelligence and flair. The grinta is rising from the ashes of last year’s side. And whilst we remain, if those above fare well over the weekend, still outside the bothersome clique of front runners, in our favour is that we are recovering Asamoah, and also have Khedira and Pereyra to bring back into the fray in the near future.

allegri, juventus, serie a, 2015

Unperturbed by the piglet squeals for his dismissal of late, Juve boss Allegri continues to plot our path back to the top.

Allegri deserves credit for both weathering the storm and bringing through the newcomers at a steady pace, despite the horrid spate of injuries we have suffered earlier this season. Also, his decision to apply Dybala in a new role for the player is beginning to pay dividends. Its remarkable, but a sign of the fickle nature of especially the younger supporters, that only a matter of weeks back, many were calling for Allegri to be replaced. You don’t win the double domestically and reach the champions league final by luck alone…

This team has the potential to be much better than we have yet seen. For despite the victories, of late, we are winning without truly dominating any way other than defensively. There is more to come. And if we can avoid any further injuries to key players, continue to climb up from hanging on to the coat tails of those above us, I am beginning to smile and ponder…that we really could have a serious chance of challenging for the title.

Lazio are in a bad way. As can be said of Palermo who we crunched last weekend, yet we can only beat what is put in front of us.

Winning breeds a winning mentality. Which is especially important when forced to deploy younger players absent of the experience of the stalwarts. I can see our winning mentality growing. The players are no longer turning out with tentative mind-set; they are now expecting to win. Which translates to the performances as well as to the opponents erosion of confidence.

The next two games will offer far tougher tests of our credentials, both in Europe and at home. Seville are out of the reckoning for progression from the group stage of the champions league, but remain stern opposition. A draw will keep us in first place in the group thus avoiding the likes of Real Madrid, Barca and Munich in the knockout phase. And then…a huge match at home against Fiorentina. Emerge from those matches with a draw (or better) in Spain and a victory against Sousa’s Florence side and our shared dreams of a return to greatness will be drawn much closer to reality.

Its encouraging to see the birth pains of a new side drifting away into the horizon of the past and definite signs of a new beast emerging in the present.

forza juve

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