Two enormous results for Juventus in the last two outings against Lazio and Tottenham and the fact that they have done that in spite of pretty mediocre performances is a testament to the resourcefulness and the experience of this squad. We rope-a-doped for most of the Olimpico bout, but our pace improved in the second half and then Paulo Dybala pulled one out of the hat to win the game in the stoppage time. Three points that, if we do not fumble in the Udinese game, will give us the opportunity to leapfrog Napoli in the midweek tilt with Atalanta.
While we had seen this script in Serie A before, the outcome of the Tottenham fixture is even more astounding. Spurs basically looked in control for the whole 180 minutes, but for the first ten minutes of the Stadium match and five minutes in the middle of the second half in the Wembley one. Those small lapses cost them the four decisive goals. We knew that we could hurt them because their back-line is pretty leaky, but we still let them have the ball for most of the match. Outside of the two goals, we did not create much, but we still prevailed and hopefully this is a good sign ahead of the next European challenge, where the competition will get better and better.
It is hard to fathom, but the game really changed when Stephan Lichsteiner and Kwadwo Asamoah were subbed in as these moves gave us two complete chains on both flanks. Blaise Matuidi was not having his best game, while it is weird that Andrea Barzagli is still being used as a right back where there are other options available. Anyway, those substitutions allowed us to play with more width and that was key in the first goal. Gonzalo Higuain gutted it out on a sore ankle and his contribution was vital as I do not think many would have chased that header by Sami Khedira and the through pass to Paulo Dybala was perfect.
Another interesting aspect of the Spurs bout was the tactics: we know things are fluid with Massimiliano Allegri, but it was the first time in a while he had both Dybala and Douglas Costa at his disposal. Rather than both serving as trequartists, the Brazilian was used as right winger, with Matuidi covering the other flank, and La Joya as second-striker. It was de facto a 4-4-2.
Next up is the Udinese game and it is imperative to avoid a let-down. It is a 3pm match, something I despise because the Bianconeri should always be on their own time slot. Alex Sandro, who has grown into an essential offensive weapon in 2018, and Stephan Lichtsteiner are suspended; Mario Mandzukic missed the last match due to some hamstring ailment and Medhi Benatia was subbed off with an ankle sprain, but their injuries are not believed to be serious. With the Udinese game sandwiched between two demanding match-ups, some energy management is inevitable.
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