In a match void of intensity and great play, Juventus defeated Genoa, 1-0, on Monday to collect all three points and keep up the pace with Napoli ahead of them in the Serie A table.
Scoring an early goal yet again, Juventus were in control for much of the first half as their opponents struggled with containing Juve’s front line. Focused on their defensive duties, Genoa couldn’t produce any danger in the first half.
A little tactical tweaking from Davide Ballardini in the second half saw the Rossoblu crank up the pressure and play with greater ambition, playing further upfield in hopes of creating opportunities. Juve were left to play a counter-attacking game and struggled to shift gears, looking both physically and mentally tired but did just enough to secure a clean sheet and register another win.
Juventus scored another goal in the first half hour of the game, making them the most prolific team in Serie A in the first 30 minutes of a game. In addition to that, they kept another clean sheet, meaning they have only conceded one goal in 12 games.
Massimiliano Allegri called him unlucky to not have scored a goal, but Gonzalo Higuain’s drought continues. While he did try to play for the team, more is expected from a man considered one of the best strikers in the world. More precision, more intensity and more magic.
Manager rating out of 10
6 — There was always a slight fear that Juventus would lose another match after the break but Allegri ensured his team got over the line by doing just enough to earn all three points. The best sides know how to grind out results despite their condition.
Player ratings (1-10; 10=best; players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating):
GK Wojciech Szczesny, 6 — Genoa didn’t produce a shot on target, so an easy night for the goalkeeper.
DF Stephan Lichtsteiner, 6 — Better than in recent weeks, especially when it came to timing. Handled Diego Laxalt well, remaining cautious while pushing up when offered the opportunity.
DF Mehdi Benatia, 6 — Another excellent performance from the defender who anticipated play, defended well against Goran Pandev and Adel Taarabt and intercepted well.
DF Giorgio Chiellini, 7 — Brilliant with his clearances, with reading play and with utilising his experience and strength on the ball. Excellent in his aerial duels.
DF Alex Sandro, 5 — His passing was accurate but not the Alex Sandro we know. His technique is still evident at certain moments but couldn’t make the impact and was taken off due to injury.
MF Sami Khedira, 6 — Moved around the pitch well, exploiting the gaps but couldn’t prove decisive.
MF Miralem Pjanic, 6 — There needs to be better movement up front for Pjanic’s talents to really shine, but he positioned himself well, delivered accurate long balls and displayed good vision even if he couldn’t provide the decisive action.
MF Blaise Matuidi, 6 — Lacks composure in his play, which can throw off his teammates. But as ever, he provides energy and timely runs forward.
FW Douglas Costa, 7 — Scored an excellent goal, reading the actions well and exploiting space. He proved generous in helping his teammates and always looked to create danger when on the ball.
FW Gonzalo Higuain, 5 — The drought continues. While the forward always works hard for the team, he must score the goals to help ease the pressure. At least he drew out fouls and delivered some clever passes.
FW Mario Mandzukic, 6 — A sublime assist for Douglas Costa, combining well with his teammates. Always tries to win back possession and help in all phases of the game.
MF Stefano Sturaro, 6 — Came on to provide the physicality as Juve’s energy levels began to wane. Did his job.
DF Kwadwo Asamoah, N/A — Ensured solidity to help close out the game.
DF Andrea Barzagli, N/A — Not on long enough to make an impact.
Mina Rzouki covers Juventus and the Italian national team for ESPN FC. Follow her on Twitter: @Minarzouki.