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Thursday March 4 2021
Juventus greater than their problems

A decimated Juventus beat Lazio, proving they are greater than their problems, writes Lorenzo Bettoni from the Allianz Stadium.

The Old Lady had five players out of action ahead of this fixture and Arthur, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Alvaro Morata were not fully fit.

Paulo Dybala and Giorgio Chiellini are injured, Rodrigo Bentancur has COVID and Gianluca Frabotta was suspended

Morata replaced CR7 upfront with Andrea Pirlo having to deploy three players out of position.

Alex Sandro played as a centre-back in a 4-2-3-1 formation while Federico Bernardeschi took over from him in the left-back position. Danilo was one of the two centre midfielders.

Juventus were not in peak condition, which is a concern considering they will face Porto in the second leg of the last 16 stage of the Champions League on Tuesday.

Lazio dominated the first half and took the lead with a goal from Joaquin Correa. The Argentinean made the most of a clumsy back pass from Dejan Kulusevski and dribbled past Merih Demiral way too easily before firing home at the near post.

Luis Alberto was dominant in the middle of the park as Danilo and Adrien Rabiot couldn't cope with the Spaniard's moves and quality passes.

Wojciech Szczęsny was forced to make a couple of crucial saves and the Old Lady didn't create much, at least in the first half hour.

Players, reserves and Juventus directors were furious when Davide Massa didn't award the Old Lady a penalty kick for a Wesley Hoedt handball inside Lazio's box, and that rage may have fired Juventus up.

All of a sudden, Adrien Rabiot netted the equaliser with a stunning left-foot finish from a tight angle.

It wasn't the end of the controversy though as Juventus kept protesting against the referee on their way to the tunnel before the half time break.

It is the approach to the second half that was crucial for the Old Lady's win.

A counter-attacking action conducted by Federico Chiesa and finished by Alvaro Morata after 57 minutes gave Juventus the lead with the Spaniard adding one more to his tally three minutes later after he converted a penalty kick earned by Aaron Ramsey.

At that point, Lazio looked like a beaten boxer and could not create as much trouble as they did in the first half.

It is fair to say those Juventus players who played out of position put in a quite brilliant performance.

Alex Sandro didn't let his opponent pass him once and won almost every duel, Federico Bernardeschi ran up and down the flank and read the game really well on the left. His performance improved as the minutes passed.

The former Fiorentina man was decisive against Spezia earlier this week. He came off the bench to provide two crucial assists for Alvaro Morata and Federico Chiesa. One would argue that game boosted his self-confidence.

Danilo struggled a little in the first half. Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and Luis Alberto are not the opponents you want to face when they are on form as they seemed to be in the first 30 minutes. But it didn't last long.

Overall, it was a deserved win for Juventus. Surely their merits are more than Lazio's shortcomings, but Simone Inzaghi and his players won't sleep well tonight as they had a big chance to close the gap on the top four and go three points behind the Old Lady.

On paper, they could have done it. In the opening 30 minutes, they produced enough to win the game. Still, they lacked consistency and a clinical Juventus took the three points home.

Once again, the spirit of the Old Lady made a real difference. They wanted to win the game more than Lazio. They were ferocious in the second half when they hardly lost a duel. Chiesa was on fire. He followed Lazio players everywhere on the pitch, but didn't lack quality in the final third.

On Friday, Arrigo Sacchi wrote in his Gazzetta dello Sport column that Juventus players might have betrayed the club's history as the young players have failed to adapt.

"I don't think anything of Sacchi's words, I didn't read them. The youngsters seem to have settled in well. Chiesa scored 10 goals, Kulusevski four or five and the same is true of Mckennie," Pirlo replied in his pre-match press conference.

"Veterans have been a big help. It is not easy to join Juventus, with the pressure of always having to win.

"They have always behaved well and they are doing it even now."

The Allianz Stadium clash proved Sacchi wrong and showed this Juventus side to be as united as ever.

When Massa blew the final whistle, every player ran to the middle of the pitch to hug each other, with a warmth we've hardly witnessed this season.

However, the Old Lady have little time to celebrate. Inter remain seven points ahead of them and on Tuesday, Porto come to Turin for the decider in their last 16 Champions League tie.

"We started a project. Judgements often change from game to game," Pirlo had claimed before the game.

He will surely keep that in mind hoping tonight's judgement won't change on Tuesday.

@lorebetto

Have your say...
I'm so glad that I managed not 2 write this comment before tonight's game!Juventus greater than their problems?! What better proof that many ppl who write here often don't know what they're saying?!
Because they got 3 points from Lazio,who practically beat themselves again, like in CL? Yet, not bein able 2 see that this team under Pirlo is a shamble - they've no real game plan, let alone 2nd, no style... Pirlo's lost & doesn't know (has no skills) to implement his ideas.
Yet, u call that great
on the 9th March, 2021 at 11:53pm
Lazio had the momentum up until the point of the referee decision to not call the obvious of what should have been 3-PKs.
From that point on Juve took over and weathered a small surge at the end of the game which was to be expected.
it was a decisive win for a team that looked poor the previous week vs Hellas and didnt show much in the opening leg vs Porto.
The youth has made a difference, the many games and managing players health is where challenges have arose, yet their Juve is.
on the 8th March, 2021 at 8:08pm
Juve plays so much better without Bentancur - some teams have to drop out of european competition to play good but who is dumb enough to do that considering that there is money to made playing in CL and some teams haven't paid salaries in 4 months ? i mean you can't blame money troubles on COVID if you leave money on the table because you could not get your hands to reach in and take it. Well when you average 1 point a game in Europe and finish dead last in your group then you suck anyways !
on the 8th March, 2021 at 6:38pm
Part 2 and I totally agree with 1985. When Cuadrado is in the line up we are a different team. He has matured so much. I remember when Allegri once said if Cuadrado would know when to pass the ball he could be one of the best players in the team. He seems to have improved his decision making a lot under Pirlo. His crosses are deadly this season. Just please beat Porto.
on the 8th March, 2021 at 3:32am
This was a great team victory, but it wont count for nothing if we loose to Porto. I feel like when everyone is healthy, that this team can really play some good football. I still believe that Chiesa has been the best player so far this season, he brings so much energy to this team. Something we lacked in the past years. He is crucial to every attacking play and when we loose the ball he is back winning the ball back. Best signing this season. The midfield is still not sorted out.
on the 8th March, 2021 at 3:25am
It was nice to see Juve come back from behind and win vs Lazio. The good thing about the game was the ref let the play continue which is very common in Champions League but not in Seria A. This change of pace should serve Juve well when they play Porto this week. I would like to see the refs let the flow of the game continue as opposed to whistling plays down every 30-40 seconds. Hopefully Pirlo will eventually change tactics to a 4-2-3-1 or 3-4-3 as the 4-4-2 is a bit slow and predictable.
on the 7th March, 2021 at 8:55pm
We Juve fans don't miss Bentancur but we do miss Cuadrado very much. This guy is amazing if his teammates do as he says and they did when Juve play against Lazio last night. Funny fact is Danilo plays much much better as DM than Mr.Clumsy Bentancur.
on the 7th March, 2021 at 9:56am
How rapidly the opinions can change in footbal. Wonder what would happen if Juve doesn’t get the necessary result against Porto.
on the 7th March, 2021 at 9:22am
It was a very entertaining game notwithstanding the poor performance from the referee not awarding two clear penalties and possibly not sending Sandro off for an elbow to Correa's head. Juve showed they can win without Ronaldo - they have the talent but just need the belief. As good as Ronaldo is, I still think Juve's best football often shows itself when he's not in the side. With De Ligt, Chiellini, Arthur and, hopefully, Dybala back, Juve is not finished yet this season.
on the 7th March, 2021 at 12:26am
That Rabiot goal so reminded me of Nedved, different technique but similar penetration and angle. Hope we keep this momentum up and at least mask the problems for a bit that stick out like a sore thumb
on the 6th March, 2021 at 11:59pm
been calling for juve to play a 4231 for the longest time. didnt expect it would be danilo being in midfield. but i would play it vs porto.great fight because VAR has been against juve all season.

szescny
cuadrado---bonucci-dermiral---sandro
arthur---rabiot
chiesa----kulusevski/ramsey/mckennie--ronaldo
morata

for the 1st time in a long time we saw juve scoring some counter-attacking goals.
on the 6th March, 2021 at 11:20pm

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