On Wednesday night, Juventus have all but sealed their qualification to the Champions League’s round of 16 thanks to an away win at the expense of Zenit St. Petersburg.
It was mostly a dull affair with very few chances to speak of throughout the match. But just when the two sides appeared to have accepted a point for each, Dejan Kulusevski snatched the winner at the 86th minute.
So here are three takeaways from the Old Lady’s solid but unspectacular win on Russian soil.
All About the Defense
Max Allegri’s men rarely produce defensive masterclasses in the absence of their great leader Giorgio Chiellini.
But on his 100th European appearance for Juventus, Leonardo Bonucci led the team bravely, making some vital interceptions to prevent Sergei Semak’s side from scoring and was subsequently chosen as the man of the match by the organizers.
Moreover, Matthijs de Ligt performed admirably as well, as the manager has apparently succeeded in recreating a solid defensive base to build upon.
De Sciglio’s Favorite Role
On Wednesday, Mattia De Sciglio was celebrating his 29th birthday, and Allegri decided to make it a special one, handing the fullback a starting berth at right-back.
The former Milan man had his ups and downs, but following the introduction of Juan Cuadrado, he was shifted to the left flank.
For the second match in a row, the Italian created the winner with another sublime cross from the left side.
In the last few days, De Sciglio has proven that he can be trusted with a starting role, but it appears that his attacking threat is more evident when he’s cutting from the left flank.
Sometimes a recurring result can a mere coincidence. But when a team wins four straight matches by the same 1-0 result, there must be a more concrete explanation.
Following his return to Turin, Allegri struggled to deliver results initially, but the manager is beginning to get a grip on the team in the recent weeks.
While Juventus remain far from entertaining, the results are all what matters at the moment, and the fans should be relieved with the newly-found solidity.
For the first time in a while, the club appears to be in the hands of a manager who knows exactly what he wants and how to achieve his goals.