Well, that was nice for a change. Juventus still conceded their almost compulsory two goals (even our own players are now taking part in the process), but for once, Max Allegri’s men put on an inspiring display.
The Bianconeri scored four goals past Zenit St. Petersburg and could have added more if it wasn’t for the post. The performance was generally convincing as they maintained their perfect Champions League record while sealing their qualification to the round of 16.
So here are our three takeaways from the Old Lady’s 4-2 victory at the expense of Sergei Semak’s men.
A Joy to Watch
Let’s begin with the most obvious observation. Paulo Dybala is a pure joy to watch.
Yes, this takeaway probably dates back to his early career years, but after such world class display, the man deserves to be showered with praise.
La Joya scored twice (although he was lucky on the spot kick replay), provided an assist to Alvaro Morata and was very close to adding more.
Federico Chiesa is definitely a beast, but Dybala might just be a universally unique player, and we’re just blessed to have the privilege to watch him week in week out (as long as he stays fit).
The Right Pairing?
Allegri loves his three-man midfield. Throughout his career, he did abandon it for a while, but you can always bet that he’ll revert back to midfield trio.
But perhaps due to the lack of quality in the middle of the park, the tactician adopted a 4-4-2 lineup, with Manuel Locatelli and Weston McKennie taking the double pivot roles.
The intention behind this change is arguably making up for the lack of creativity in the center by focusing on width play.
Luckily for Allegri, the midfield duo performed admirably, combining well with one another and with the rest of their teammates.
The American is enjoying a resurgence in the last few matches, and with his energy and stamina he might just be the perfect foil for the more composed Locatelli.
On their day, these two can hold the midfield on their own even in the absence of a third man in the middle.
Tactics or Morale?
For one reason or another, Juventus are performing amiably in the Champions League, which is the quite opposite of their domestic form.
But what is the exact reason behind this contradiction? It has to be something slightly deeper than a mere coincidence.
One can adopt a tactical theory, as the European sides tend to play more progressive football than the majority of Italian clubs. Thus, Juventus find more spaces to exploit, which perfectly suits the likes of Dybala, Morata and especially Chiesa.
On the other hand, the morale could be behind this victory more than anything else. Juventus needed to make a statement (especially after entering a training retreat), and Zenit were simply in their way.
We can only hope that Allegri manages to transmit the spirit and the fruitful tactics witnessed against the Russians to our upcoming Serie A fixtures.