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Juventus

Juve to get tough Lazio test

Juventus
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Deserved winners soon to be deserved champions

Juventus coach Antonio Conte says rivals Roma have every right to still think they can snatch the title from his side.


They may attempt to cry foul, to note the little refereeing errors or simply say that the opponents don't try, but Juventus are a machine -- a vibrant machine that wins. No one should dare say they don't deserve to be champions. Each opponent wants to be the one to achieve the miracle but few manage to surprise or indeed grab a point off the stingy Old Lady who continues to amaze in Serie A. This Juve don't need any help. They would win the league with their hands tied back and blindfolded. They're simply too efficient for the teams within this peninsula and to say any different would be unjust. - Report: Sassuolo 1-3 Juventus On Monday night Juve faced a team that dared to dream. There's many who like to ridicule little Sassuolo, a team that has never played top flight football before this season and one that hails from a town that is too small to enjoy such footballing achievements. Nonetheless, they believe in their technical ability and in offering the fans the chance to enjoy the spectacle. Ambitious, attacking and mobile, the Neroverdi aren't interested in parking the bus and instead revel in their bravery, even if they run too many risks at this level of the game. Tactically, they played an interesting match that proved profitable in the early stages largely because Juventus are without the man who helps destroy fast paced dribbles down the middle -- Arturo Vidal. Out of possession, Sassuolo's front three were urged to press Juve's centre-backs who like to adopt a high line. Their reasoning is that not only would they make life difficult for the defenders who like to play the ball out from the back, but they would also allow themselves to jump on any errors made, realising they only needed one interception, one little mistake to launch forward and hit the Old Lady with their pace. Simone Zaza demonstrated this particular point in the 56th minute when he robbed Angelo Ogbonna of the ball and sped down the middle only for Nicola Sansone to foul Giorgio Chiellini and let Juve off the hook. When forced to defend, the Neroverdi would run back in numbers but they always left two upfront. Every loss of possession in midfield would result in a Sassuolo counter-attack, with one midfielder or attacker running with pace through the middle aware there were at least two ahead of him, creating a 3v3 situation to trouble the Juve back-line. A fast paced move and a perfect finish led Eusebio Di Francesco's team to their first goal, a great finish from Zaza -- co-owned by the Bianconeri. Juventus, however, were simply unwilling to play a cautious game. This was Sassuolo they reasoned; they'd rather score than maintain a compact shape that would prevent the fast attacks. It was none other than Carlos Tevez who equalised. For all their sensational play and quick movement, Sassuolo always looked prone to a defensive error. On this occasion the Argentine was simply not monitored closely and was thus allowed to pick the perfect spot and unleash his technical skill to score that important goal. The second was down to Claudio Marchisio's vision. Noticing Andrea Pirlo was on the ball, he knew to expect an accurate chip and it came with him perfectly placed to make the run and score. The midfielder hasn't always finished well this season but he delivered a rocket to put his team ahead. Sassuolo battled and even took off a defender to introduce another forward 15 minutes into the second half to search for an equaliser. Juventus looked shaky, especially Ogbonna who visibly struggled. Throwing all they had forward, it was simply not enough for the relegation battlers -- especially not when Stephan Lichtsteiner was introduced. His forward thrusts making the difference, he made the perfect run, creeping inside to deliver the ball for Fernando Llorente to score Juve's third with a back-heel. The Spaniard may have barely contributed to the match prior up to that point, but he scored when it mattered. While obvious quality prevailed in the end, Juventus' weaknesses were exposed quite often this game. For one thing, the lack of pace in their movements at times renders them impotent going forward. Teams that defend as a unit will always try to limit the space. As such, it's important to speed up the manoeuvres while maintaining accuracy to avoid conceding possession and a potential counter-attack -- something Juve have yet to perfect. Another problem is the manner in which they allow a dribbler, a fast-paced attacker to drag them out of position. Fearful of how to defend against such an individual, at times you see three or more players rush to stop the player thus creating gaps for his teammates to occupy and exploit. They did this often with Sansone whose quick feet made the Bianconeri uncomfortable. Pressure is the problem as Juve, on occasion, surrender to panic, making mistakes better opponents will punish. It's important to track down runs and close down channels, something they didn't do so well against Benfica, but it's vital they don't commit too many players to defend one individual leaving behind space for others to enjoy. Yet these criticisms are minor. Juventus are simply too good to not win such matches and head coach Antonio Conte and his men are one step closer to lifting a hat-trick of titles.