Khedira, Pogba, Cuadrado and Padoin score as Juventus cruise vs. Palermo
You would think Juventus dominated Palermo in Sunday's 4-0 win, controlling play and imposing their superior strength.
However, in contrast to what many casual observers think about Serie A, the relegation battlers played on par with the champions, creating several attacking opportunities to threaten.
While Sami Khedira's opener was a team effort, the third goal via Juan Cuadrado was a great demonstration of individual ability. Juve won thanks to a strong team ethic and talented individual play; something the rest of Serie A struggle with.
The Sicilians were strong going forward but defensively, they were shockingly weak, especially at set pieces. Paul Pogba scored the second from a corner as Juventus made the visitors pay.
It seems every week fans and pundits claim this was far from the Bianconeri's best performance. They rarely have to play at their best to win. While their opponents seem to always give it a go, mistakes undo their best efforts and allow the Old Lady to finish their opportunities.
Continuing to accumulate wins, it's important Juve refrain from such sloppy play after securing the opener. Too often they allowed Palermo to charge forward when more concentration was required.
While that has hardly stopped them from winning in Italy, if this side want to win it all, especially in Europe in the future, they must minimise their errors.
Player ratings (1-10; 10=best; players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating):
GK Gianluigi Buffon, 7 -- Showed how attentive he was by making a string of vital saves as Palermo continued to try their luck. Never dropped his concentration, even at the end.
DF Andrea Barzagli, 7 -- Alert and focused, the defender rescued Juve on too many occasions. An important performance, he got back in time to make a goal-line block and another valuable clearance to ensure a clean sheet.
DF Leonardo Bonucci, 6 -- A below-par performance from the centre-back, who must learn how to remain composed under pressure.
DF Daniele Rugani, 6 -- Produced a fine performance and is maturing in each game. Strong in the air, too.
WB Juan Cuadrado, 7 -- Infuriating when he gives up on certain defensive challenges but his goal was a thing of beauty, demonstrating his great talent. Excellent in one-on-ones, he needs to learn how to play a more balanced game as he rarely understands when to hold his position and when to charge forward.
MF Sami Khedira, 7 -- Excellent positioning from a player who always knew where to be. Scored the opening goal and his intelligence and team work make him a valuable asset to the team.
MF Claudio Marchisio, N/R -- The midfielder suffered an injury early on and was taken off.
MF Paul Pogba, 8 -- Quite easily the man of the match. His penetrative passes going forward coupled with the goal he scored and assist he provided make him the most valuable attacking player Juventus have. Maturing in his decision-making.
WB Patrice Evra, 6 -- A little reckless on this occasion, Evra performed his duties without adding much more.
FW Paulo Dybala, 6 -- His first game back after injury, the Argentine is clearly not at his best but still good at creating problems for the opposing defence with his intelligence and movement.
FW Mario Mandzukic, 6 -- Failed to produce any attacking threat but a player who fights for his teammates nonetheless.
MF Mario Lemina, 6 -- The youngster doesn't have quite the range of passing required and committed a few errors that perhaps should be expected. However, he proved important defensively, recovering possession well and providing the necessary clearances.
FW Alvaro Morata, 7 -- What a blessing to have him available on the bench to count upon. His great skill and ability to run with the ball at speed threatened Palermo and the two assists he provided ensured a flattering scoreline. Let himself down with a yellow card.
MF Simone Padoin, N/R -- Only on for a few minutes yet scored to make it 4-0.
Mina Rzouki covers Juventus and the Italian national team for ESPN FC. Follow her on Twitter: @Minarzouki.