Wednesday October 23 2019
Better late than never

It will go down as a Juventus victory, but Emmet Gates warns Maurizio Sarri needs to find a solution to defensive opponents.

Better late than never.  Paulo Dybala’s brace against Lokomotiv Moscow spared Juve’s blushes, but the win shouldn’t mask just how poor the Italian champions were.

Maurizio Sarri, who has for the most part got his team selection right so far this season, didn’t this time. He might’ve anticipated that Lokomotiv wouldn’t come to Turin to attack, and they didn’t, finishing the game with a paltry 23% possession.

Sarri’s inclusion of both Blaise Matuidi and Sami Khedira backfired. Faced with two banks of four in front of him, the German, who lacks the dynamism to skip past players and is only good when running into open spaces, was a non-entity throughout the game, and was oddly replaced by Gonzalo Higuain only two minutes into the second half. Matuidi, whilst lacking the guile, does at least offer relentless running and physicality.

After the win against Bologna last weekend, Sarri complained of having sterile possession, yet the same sterility was laced throughout Juve’s play against Lokomotiv. With the periphery of the Russian penalty box congested with players, they failed to spread the play often enough, at times trying to SarriBall their way through the mass of bodies. It wasn’t working. Juve’s tempo was ludicrously slow.

For the most part Juve were confined to striking from distance, with 28 shots, it’s their second most in their history in the competition, yet Guilherme in Lokomotiv’s goal didn’t have to extend himself for the majority.

It’s difficult to know what to make of Leonardo Bonucci these days. In some games you see flickers of the old, pre-leaving Juventus-in-the-summer-of-2017 Bonucci, but mostly what you see nowadays is Bonucci masquerading as a defender, looking the part without wanting to do the job that is required of defenders. What his intentions were in the build up to Lokomotiv’s goal is frankly anyone’s guess, his attempt at defending was an affront to the basic concept of the art.

The introduction of Higuain made all the difference, he gave Juve an intensity they had been sorely missing throughout the game, and there will now be calls for Sarri to play Ronaldo, Higuain and Dybala together from the start, especially in games like this, where the away team have no aspirations to play for a win.

Dybala’s first goal was wondrous, almost Messi-esque in the way he shaped his body to curl the ball past Guilherme. His second was arguably technically harder to execute, slicing the ball across the goalkeeper’s path, making it even harder to save.

In the grand scheme of the season, this performance, and the game itself, will be forgotten about by the weekend, but it’s another win that keeps Sarri’s unbeaten record at Juventus intact, and for a manager who has self-professed to being a slow starter with his clubs, that’s worrying for the other European heavyweights.

Have your say...
Juve are boring and a stale club. 7 champions league final loses. Biggest loser record. 35 league titles and only 2 CL wins. One of the worst records of any league winner ration. 2/35. Milan 7/18 and INTER 3/18. Sampdoria have won 1 league and played in 1 final. JUVENTUS are poor club. Should have been shutdown 13 years ago.
on the 28th October, 2019 at 5:30pm
@edmulan, I need whatever drug you are on.
on the 25th October, 2019 at 4:51am
Ronaldo is too selfish and for juve to develop more as a team, he needs to be told to stop being selfish by senior citizens like Buffon. He is good for marketing but bad for cohesion.
on the 24th October, 2019 at 6:41am
I also think we should sell szczensy and let Mattia Perin take the posts. Szczensy is always 1 step away from disaster esp when crosses are whipped in. Perin was a more stable choice capable of unseating Donnarruma as numero uno in Azzuri. But we should stop madness of wanting to trade Dybala for Lukaku. Lukaku is a lousy player. And I still can’t believe we sold Cancelo for Danilo.
on the 24th October, 2019 at 6:38am
Juve should splash cash in summer and get Pogba and Icardi. Sell Dybala as such performances from him will be few and far between. Then a good number 10 (Zaniolo)as bernadeschi will never be a big hit. We should have been more alert to get. Try pinch Romangoli from Milan in defence.
on the 24th October, 2019 at 6:33am
It be great if Dybala can become to Juve what Messi became to Barca. Ronaldo who?
on the 23rd October, 2019 at 3:50pm
What game did you guys watch ? Juve man handled possession, cr7 missed a few sitters, Higuain came in off the bench and missed 2 beauties, while Dybala was clutch ..... that counter attach by Lokotiv was their only scoring chance and they took it thanks to a comedy of errors at the back. That is Champions league !
on the 23rd October, 2019 at 2:33pm
A win, but bad performance overall. Our approach was clueless for 75 minutes of the match. Worryingly, our midfield issues are yet to be resolved. No cohesive plan or flow no matter what formation we play or who we start with. In addition to our well-documented midfield issues, we are now leaking stupid goals at the back for fun. Chiellini's injury is a huge blow. We miss his intelligence, attitude and leadership. Happy for Dybala, but worried for my blood pressure for the rest of the season!
on the 23rd October, 2019 at 12:22pm
Huge win.

Defeat here and they could have had serious problems in this group.
on the 23rd October, 2019 at 11:32am
I think Emmet is spot on about Bonucci. He really needs to stop being referred to as a world class defender. He hasn't been great since 2016 Euros. Maybe it's ego?
on the 23rd October, 2019 at 11:04am
It's easy to blame this (shambolic display) on Sarri, but that's basically a lazy attempt at introspection.

The author is spot-on that Bonucci was 100% at fault for the first goal, and basically a lot of "almost" goals which could've put the game beyond our reach. De Ligt is taking far too long to reach his potential, which is worrisome... However, given that Bonucci is clearly no longer his former self, we'll have to wait until Giorgio comes back, whenever he does.

#FinoAllaFine #ForzaJuve
on the 23rd October, 2019 at 10:08am
It's great to see Juve winning these kinds of games. Yesterday's performance left a lot to be desired, but then again, that's to be expected. Sarri needs time and I thought the squad would be suffering more than it actually does. Still, I think it'll take another couple of months to see the full effect of Sarriball. Looking forward to that :-)
on the 23rd October, 2019 at 9:52am

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