Juventus drew with Sporting, but the performance of Massimiliano Allegri’s side was far from convincing.
Tonight’s win leaves the Bianconeri with a three point lead over the Portuguese outfit, their destiny very much in their own hands, but it wasn’t a vintage performance by any means.
Words: Gaby McKay
Gianluigi Buffon — 5
The Bianconeri captain didn’t have much to do, saving well from Gelson Martins in the first half only to see Bruno Cesar sweep home the rebound with the midfield and defence posted missing
Mattia De Sciglio — 4
This was De Sciglio’s first game back after an injury lay-off, so his shaky performance is perhaps understandable.
Nevertheless he looked nervous in possession and didn’t deal well physically with the threat of Jonathan and Marcos Acuna down his flank.
Andrea Barzagli — 6
Stepped up intelligently in the second half to catch Bas Dost offside, and never really looked threaten by the Sporting attack
Giorgio Chiellini — 5
A poor game from Chiellini, who was skinned by Gelson Martins for the goal after what had been a hesitant opening 20 minutes.
Redeemed himself with a fantastic block and strolled through the second half, but Bianconeri fans expect better from the veteran, and he’ll expect better from himself too.
Alex Sandro — 5
Alex Sandro has been the elephant in the room for Juve in the first few months of the season, as the Brazilian has failed to show the form which has seen him emerge as one of the best full-backs in the world.
Muscled off the ball on several occasions going forward, he at least stuck to his task defensively.
Sami Khedira — 4
At his best Khedira goes unnoticed, recycling the ball intelligently and making crucial if unflashy interceptions.
The German stood out tonight, but not for any positive reasons as he looked laboured in possession and slow in covering the midfield.
Miralem Pjanic — 5.5
This is the kind of game in which Pjanic really has to step up, as the Bosnian’s creativity is needed to unlock stubborn defences.
The midfielder didn’t exactly do anything badly this evening, but he failed to have any significant impact in just the kind of game where his skills are needed most.
Juan Cuadrado — 7
Is there a more frustrating player in football than the Colombian? Cuadrado was guilty of a number of poor touches, ill-advised dribbles and wayward crosses.
Despite that, the fact remains that he always looked the most likely to do something for Juventus, and his fantastic pass released Higuain for the equaliser.
If he could do that on a consistent basis he’d be a world beater, and his failure to cut the ball back to Mandzukic for a tap-in epitomised the two sides of Cuadrado.
Despite that, his impact on the game justified his selection, even if he makes Juventini want to tear their hair out at times.
Paulo Dybala — 5
Dybala never looks as good when Blaise Matuidi isn’t in the side, with the Frenchman’s athleticism allowing La Joya to stay further forward.
Without Matuidi, as was the case tonight, he has to come too deep for the ball and can’t affect the game where it matters.
Mario Mandzukic — 4.5
Ultimately this just wasn’t a game for Mario Mandzukic.
The Croatian is one of Allegri’s key man, and deservedly so, but he struggles in matches where genuine creativity is required from the flanks.
Worked as hard as ever, but a first-half sliced clearance followed shortly after by a miscontrol rather summed up Mandzukic’s night.
Gonzalo Higuain — 6
This is why Juve bought Higuain.
Denied service for most of the game, Pipita still worked hard to try and bring teammates into play, despite his growing frustration.
When a chance did fall his way, he dinked the ball over Rui Patricio with aplomb for his fourth goal in three games.
A few years ago, with Alessandro Matri or Fabio Quagliarella up-front, Juve would have lost this.
Douglas Costa — 4
Costa gave the defence more to think about on the left than Mandzukic had, and went close with a low shot from long range.
Not a decisive performance, but one which showed the strength in depth the Old Lady possesses.
Blaise Matuidi — 3
Replaced Sami Khedira to give the midfield some impetus, and succeeded in doing just that.
Federico Bernardeschi — N/A
Given seven minutes and didn’t have time to make a difference.
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