Juventus’ 2-1 win over Sampdoria will probably live long in the memory for Cristiano Ronaldo’s sensational towering header past Emil Audero. While there's no point in taking anything away from that, the Bianconeri had more to celebrate than just Ronaldo's Michael Jordan moment.
The game probably laid down the first few sprouting seeds of what has famously gone on to be called ‘Sarriball’. There were some really promising glimpses which reflected how Sarri's style is slowing coming into its own for the Old Lady and is why betting sites continue to consider them Scudetto favourites.
The season has been filled with moments when individual quality has won Juve games. But it was slightly different against Samp, even though Ronaldo did come up with a moment of magic. For a while in the first half, it wasn't the sluggish Juve we've seen all season.
The Paulo Dybala goal was a portrayal of just that. Alex Sandro's impressive cross was volleyed in by La Joya, but the build-up to it was a lot like what Sarri would want. It was attractive football and the ball flowed through the Juve midfield.
Bianconeri faithful have hardly seen it this season. A lack of creativity has been the order of the day, bringing into light why Juve have been linked with Paul Pogba and Christian Eriksen. As the game wore on, the promising signs wore off. The lack of creativity and balance in midfield was very evident.
The midfield three registered only a single key pass in the game. That came from Adrien Rabiot. Miralem Pjanic and Blaise Matuidi couldn't play a single one. Dybala had three of them and was one of the best players on the pitch.
Juve sometimes missed Rodrigo Bentancur and his dynamism. The Uruguayan is growing in his role as a creator in midfield, having grabbed four assists already. It could well be argued that he is the club's most creative midfielder and having him on the pitch will always add that technical spark.
A game that started in a way that Sarri would like soon turned into a mirror reflection of the season. It became dour and Juve became passive. They sometimes found their midfield to be over-run by Claudio Ranieri's spirited Blucerchiati side.
It was a lot like how things were under Massimiliano Allegri towards the end of the previous campaign.
But despite the midfield sometimes getting overworked, Merih Demiral came up with another towering performance. It's his third impressive performance in a row, following starts against Bayer Leverkusen and Udinese.
The young Turk won six aerial duels and won two tackles, making just as many interceptions. He was another huge positive for Sarri, who could well be forced to start him in place of Matthijs de Ligt in the Supercoppa.
The front three clicked once again. While Gonzalo Higuain didn't have the best of games, Ronaldo and Dybala thrived. They combined very well on multiple occasions, catching the Samp backline off-guard with swift movement. That is something Sarri probably wanted to try, considering how well they'd done against Udinese at the weekend.
Like that very game though, this one was a step in the right direction. Some parts of it lifted Juve fans off their seats and that's become a rarity this season. There seemed to be hope that Sarri really does have a plan in place and it is coming good, even though it is taking time.
For a Juve side that has been playing a different brand of football over the last eight or nine years, this process was always going to take time. And now, it seems as though that transformation is well underway. Ahead of Supercoppa clash against Lazio, that's the biggest positive Juve fans want to see. The only way forward is up.
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