After a difficult summer with many questions asked, Juventus and Gigi Buffon settled the nerves against Cagliari.
Words: Elio Salerno
Gianluigi Buffon: 8
On his 620th Serie A appearance, Gigi was as impressive as ever, the Juventus stopper again coming to his team’s rescue during the first half. With the score at 1-0 he produced a fine reaction save from a shot inside the box, then in a piece of Serie A history, Buffon saved the first penalty awarded using VAR when denying Diego Farias. In what could be his last season, Buffon gave us a timely reminder of his brilliance.
Stephan Lichtsteiner: 6
With question marks surrounding his future and a drop off in performance, the Swiss international wanted to show he still has lots to offer. Despite providing an early assist for the first Juventus goal, this felt like another reminder that Lichty is passed his marauding best. Cagliari’s most dangerous attacks came down the Juventus right, catching Lichtsteiner out on a couple of occasions.
Daniele Rugani: 6.5
With the job of replacing Leonardo Bonucci, Rugani’s every move will be closely monitored in the coming months. He put in a composed and mature display here. The young Italian defender anticipated the game well and often cut out any developing Cagliari attacks. Confident to step forward with the ball, he helped Juventus build possession from the back. A bright start for the Juventus defender.
Giorgio Chiellini: 6
Largely untroubled defensively in what was a comfortable game for the experienced defender, Chiellini had lots of possession in this game. With the Juventus defence looking shaky recently, he will have welcomed this clean sheet.
Alex Sandro: 7.5
Perhaps Juve’s best piece of business this summer is keeping their Brazilian left-back, as he proved why he’s so highly regarded. Defensively untroubled, he offered Juventus a constant outlet, providing width on the left and supplying an attacking threat with his trademark forward runs. He topped off a great performance assisting the third Juventus goal with a well-executed low cross for Gonzalo Higuain.
Claudio Marchisio: 6.5
Juventus fans will have been happy to see Marchisio in the starting line-up, as his return to fitness and form is vital. He showed the control he brings to the team, providing consistent options to link play across the pitch. Assured and aware in possession, his intelligent use of the ball dictated the game for long periods. With Leonardo Bonucci gone, Juve need the added technical quality and vision Marchisio brings, especially when they are playing from the back.
Miralem Pjanic: 6
Provided the stand-out moment of the game with his assist for Juve’s second goal. A sublime first time pass from inside his own half to play Dybala through will have many Juventus fans reminiscing of a certain Andrea Pirlo. Pjanic is a super technician and this is the kind of genius we should see from him more often. However, it often feels like he plays safe when he should be willing to take more risks with the quality he has to offer.
Paulo Dybala: 8
Just before half-time Dybala expertly controlled a Pjanic pass and proceeded to fire home his third goal in two matches. The new Juventus number 10 has made a great start to the season and looks ready to take his game to an even higher level in the coming months. Constantly playing in-between opposition lines, Dybala linked well and had opportunities to add to his goal. It seems he is relishing being the star of this Juventus team and, if he maintains this form, he will lead the Bianconeri to more glory.
Mario Mandzukic: 6.5
With all the attacking options now at Juve’s disposal, many will have looked at Mandzukic as the player that could miss out this season. An integral part of their success last term, he provided a reminder of why he is so difficult to dislodge from this team. Mandzukic expertly steered home a Lichtsteiner cross to give Juventus a quick start, his tireless work rate has become normal to see, but he does a good job in creating space for Alex Sandro round the outside. The Croatian is someone Juventus can rely on.
Juan Cuadrado: 5.5
Cuadrado works for the team and his physical attributes provide Juventus with something different. However, he is a source of frustration, as again his decision making and use of the ball were inconsistent. Cuadrado must find form if he is to keep his place in this team. He is playing like someone who knows his position is under threat and is finding difficult to deal with the pressure.
Gonzalo Higuain: 6
For large parts of the game, Higuain cut an isolated and frustrated figure, unable to find a way in and increasingly detached from the play. However, shortly before his substitution, Higuain does what Higuain does best: score! Picking up Alex Sandro’s low cross, Pipita dispatched his left-footed shot into the bottom right corner of Cagliari’s goal. It was his only real chance and the instant relief was evident in his celebration. Looking to beat his 32 goals last season, he will be pleased to be off the mark.
Sami Khedira: 6
Had an instant impact on the game, a trademark forward run from Khedira played a key role in setting up the third goal. The German still has an important role to play for the team and exploiting tired opposition could be the best way to use him this season.
Blaise Matuidi: 6
With the game won, it was the perfect time to introduce new signing Matuidi. In his short time on the pitch it was a dynamic and confident cameo from the French international. Juventus fans will hope this is a positive sign for the future from their new midfield signing.
Douglas Costa: 6
Instant spark and attacking threat, Costa is a live-wire and already looks to be striking up a partnership with Dybala. Took this opportunity to again show the trouble he will cause opposition defences with his driving runs forward, it will surely be only a matter of time before he is in the starting line-up.