A few weeks back, I had this marked as one of the three fixtures where I saw a possibility of losing points. Napoli’s games against Inter and Roma were the parallel tricky ties for our major foes for the title. We edged the Milan game, which was first on my list, then faced Lazio in the second. My fears were reasonable given the recent resurgence seen under the guidance of Super Pippo’s younger brother, yet our drive, strength and vastly superior talent comfortably won the match. Considering the chances created, 3-0 flattered our opponents. For without a sterling performance from Marchetti, we could have been 5 or 6 up by the interval.
This was a comprehensive victory which highlighted the superiority of Juve. Over not just those hanging onto our coat-tails, but the league as a whole. We were simply too good for Lazio.
The first half saw multiple chances created for the home side. Some were near misses, others were well saved by the keeper. The only close to serious risk we ran was a rare lack of communication between Buffon and Rugani, yet the potential mess was quickly cleaned up. Other than which we were dominant, full of fight, desire and confidence.
Lichsteiner was in supreme form, owning the right flank in ways which Cuadrado could never manage for 90 minutes. Dybala, back from injury, is looking ever more likely to become a world star.
When the goal came, it was no surprise. And I was pleased for Mandzukic, whose toil and zeal is phenomenal. Not only did he score the opener, but he played a superb pass to create the third, putting Big Sami through who served on a silver platter the opportunity for Dybala to complete his brace (with his right foot!).
We ran no risks, collected no new injuries, and its tricky to suggest any player who was anything but brilliant. Only Hernanes seemed less than perfect. Yet considering he rarely plays consistently, and so his sharpness is expected to be off, he filled in well enough for Marchisio.
Hardly tested. I do not recall a meaningful save until the second half. Nothing to do but enjoy the team’s domination of our opponents. 6.5
Back to his best. Never troubled and made a wonderful sliding tackle late on in the box. Great to see him enjoying his football and offering all in his path short-shrift. Bodes very well for La Nazionale. 7
Supreme. In matches such as this he seems world class. Did not put a foot wrong. Commanded from the back, had no need to bomb forward as the midfield were in control. Was always nearby to support his apprentice in Rugani. A joy to behold. 7.5
Definitely growing in confidence and also ability. He had seemed very much like the careful, considerate youngster for earlier games, yet in this fixture I saw him maturing, developing his game, feeding off the great players around him who are clearly having a positive effect both during matches and in training. Daniele was moving forward with more glee, putting his foot through the ball in challenges and truly seems to be blossoming in the shirt which now feels more comfortable. The silver lining to the Chiellini injury cloud is the run of games afforded to the 21 year old. His future appears already gilded with glory. 7.5
His passing was a little haphazard at times, yet his tackling and covering was top drawer, pace welcome and whilst he does not yet own the flank in as powerful a way as Lichsteiner often does on the right, his ability on the ball is superb. Not his best game, but far from his worst…yet he has not had a bad game all season! 7
His finest form of the season. A shame it has come a little late for Europe, but never-mind. Why wallow in hindsight when we have the Swiss Locomotive steam-rolling through opponents, owning the wing defensively and proving a constant thorn in the side of our foes up top. His work in the final third set up several great chances. His energy, fitness and sharpness are running in top gear and whilst we definitely need an alternative at RB/RWB, I am confident we have one of the finest in the game in that role for at least another two years. Powerful. 7.5
As aforementioned…The Brazilian has not found any meaningful run of games since our form picked up late last year and absent of which, we must expect rust on the boots. His job was to perform the duties usually supplied by Il Principino. And whilst a few passes went astray, we didn’t miss Marchiso in the slightest, which leads me to offer praise for his performance. Much maligned by many, for me, Hernanes has been average. Many players need a run of games to find their rhythm. It is normal. And the midfielder signed as probably a 3rd or 4th choice target has simply not found the continuity to deliver his very best. With Marchisio now out until perhaps late this year, more likely early 2017, it is important for Allegri to test both Lemina and the former Lazio man in the role of fulcrum, which is a step or two away from pure regista. I felt he recycled the ball well, showed intelligent positional sense and tried to pick out the best pass whenever finding the ball at his feet. Seemed quiet, yet I find this often of Marchisio in the same position, for the duties are first and foremost to screen the defence, offer an outlet to the defence and keep the ball moving swiftly and smartly. All of which he achieved. 7
Weighed in with an assist, proved a menace in both phases of defence and attack and constantly pushed the team forward. Solid showing from a player who has gained maturity this season and is learning to keep things simple when before he would try to be too fancy. 7
Another player who finally, at this late stage of the season, appears to be reaching peak fitness and sharpness. Superb assist for the third, showed greater pace than I have seen previously, mopped up at the back, finds time on the ball even in the thick of the action and rarely wastes a pass. If we can keep him fit for longer periods next season, our success is set to continue and blossom. 7.5
A smartly taken goal, plentiful interceptions, wonderful assist for the move which led to Dybala’s second, hacked to pieces yet continued to batter his way through Lazio. A potent weapon in such fine fettle, and one I hope we retain for next term. 8
This showing made me regret offering to BelgianJuventino the end of year analysis of the strikers, for I could quite easily conjure a beautiful novella focused on the sensational talent of our young Argentine. At times I perceive him as a bizarre mixture of Romeo and Lucien De Rubempre For he has such divine talent at such a young age, yet the duo I mentioned, whilst of comparable passion and genius and beauty, can only compare on their ascent to stardom. As Dybala has steel in his femurs. He is reaching for the stars and despite already close to shining as bright as any others in the galaxy, his interest lies in the universe. He was nothing short of sublime against Lazio. Evidently the coaching staff have added muscle to his guile; he can now ride tackles and has become exceptionally dangerous not just in the box as was shown at Palermo last term, but all over the pitch. To call him a trequartista is misleading as his game has become so expansive that he is comfortable not just waiting for the ball, but winning the ball anywhere from central midfield to the goal-line. He constantly searches for either a pass or space to receive. His dribbling, shooting, distribution and positional prowess have all come on in leaps and bounds. I am in awe of this gem we have uncovered in the mega rough. And find it hard to argue with the suggestion that he may well be destined to become one of the greatest of all time.
The kid is special. In fact, I would go as far as to suggest that he has more to potentially offer than Tevez and Del Piero. For he seems to have the grit of his countryman aligned with the god given delicacy of the italian. We can but hope that his love for the club drives deep in his heart and that he remains in our colours for many moons to come. For there will be huge interest this Summer, from the elite clubs, and thereafter the same, with growing volume and larger sacks of gold, every transfer window.
12 points to play for, 9 points clear, with a superior goal difference and head to head record with Napoli. If we triumph in Florence and Sarri fails to plot a path to victory in Rome we can celebrate a remarkable 5th straight scudetto this coming Monday. Essentially, all calculations and permutations lead to the fact that we require 3 points from 12 remaining to march over the finishing line and pop open the champagne. I will not yet talk of that achievement for reasons which can at best be described as superstitious. Our recovery from a series of injuries to key players (which continues to plague the side) and the loss of several world class talents in the Summer has been nothing short of miraculous. This can be measured in all its glory only when and if we find those 3 points still required…
Lazio did not bow down as sacrificial lambs. They were simply outclassed, outgunned, outran. And they are no mugs.
It is evident when watching performances as controlled and well managed as this one, why we offered Bayern more trouble than any other has managed in any competition this season, for when something counted hugely to their squad of titans and much lauded manager, they sneaked past a Juve bereft of many first XI weapons, solely with the help of luck and exceptionally poor and pivotal decision making from the officials. We matched one of the finest sides the world has ever known. Which bodes well for our future.
In Morata, Pogba, Dybala, Sandro and Rugani we have five young players of world class potential. Add in the experience of the veterans – of which the eldest (Barzagli and Buffon) are sure to last at least another season at the top level – and a couple of high quality signings in the Summer, leads to a side capable of challenging anyone. The perfect mixture of youthful exuberance and finesse with wily experience and ultra professional mentality. All of which essential ingredients for glory, when added to the spirit of this squad, makes our future look exceptionally bright and wondrous. In fact I will allow myself to jump free of Reason and Practical considerations of the obstacles we face (mainly against the clubs run by brutal oligarchs and Shieks who directly support the US/NATO led ISIS and Al Nusra crowd) and fly free into the clouds of boyish dreams…We have the makings of the finest Juve side I have seen since the 90s. The side which reached 3 consecutive Champions league finals.
Truly I believe we could become that dominant a force in Europe.
Allegri, Marrotta (who recently won Director of the Year) and Paratici – above all others – have not just consolidated the return to prominence forged through Conte’s zeal, they have used that as a foundation and continued the steady march towards becoming a powerhouse of the elite. Maybe the poorest at the table, yet solely in gold, for our history, prestige and present bite, snarl and menace on the battle-field have forced the others present in such a group to show us respect and treat us as kin.
I sense the beginning of a golden era…