Khedira stars again as Juventus earn a hard-fought win at Lazio
With temperatures in excess of 90 degrees Fahrenheit, both Lazio and Juventus struggled early before the Serie A champions emerged in the second half with greater desire and more energy, creating scoring opportunities and dominating the game. Ultimately they also found a goal, with Sami Khedira scoring for the second straight game.
As a team that struggled defensively in preseason, it was reassuring to see Juve keep a clean sheet and play with confidence and composure at the back, despite the absence of Leonardo Bonucci. Mehdi Benatia made his league debut and integrated well, demonstrating his physicality and excellent reading of the game, which render him a perfect addition to the side.
With Paul Pogba sold, Claudio Marchisio injured and Miralem Pjanic on the bench, Juve's midfield lacked creativity and the spark that usually ignites forwards. Paulo Dybala was forced to drop back too often, stripping him of the support he needs from those behind him to provide magic going forward.
Manager rating out of 10
8 -- Massimiliano Allegri has always been a patient man, both with formations and new recruits, and is keen to stick with those who provide stability and security before he introduces star talent bought over the summer. Once Allegri feels everyone is in shape, he will look to find the perfect balance to ensure attacking panache and defensive security.
Player ratings (1-10; 10=best; players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating):
GK Gianluigi Buffon, 6 -- On hand to act quickly when called upon but wasn't required to rescue his team from any truly dangerous situations.
DF Mehdi Benatia, 7 -- An excellent debut from the Moroccan, who timed his tackles well, nearly scored a goal and rescued Juve from a Felipe Anderson cross into the box.
DF Andrea Barzagli, 6 -- Did well in Bonucci's central role by ensuring the defensive line never dropped too deep. Read the game well as usual.
DF Giorgio Chiellini, 7 -- Always there at the right time and in the right place to make the right block. Reliable and concentrated, he is also excellent and pushing forward with the ball to help contribute to the attack.
MF Dani Alves, 6 -- Combined well with Dybala, though he dropped off as the game progressed until he was subbed off.
MF Sami Khedira, 8 -- The best player on the pitch, Khedira timed his runs to perfection. Always available to secure the defence and in the right position when Juve were in possession, he scored the winner and was the most intelligent and tactically-aware player on show.
MF Mario Lemina, 6 -- Too hasty in his actions, Lemina must know how to deal with his physical stature and understand how to remain composed under pressure. Too often he shoots when he needs to think a before he acts, but the talent is there to see.
MF Kwadwo Asamoah, 6 -- Consistently fouled but he knew how to keep the team moving forward. However, he doesn't boast the creativity or technical skill to aid a midfield that lacks spark.
MF Alex Sandro, 6 -- Excellent at getting forward and producing chances for his teammates. When surrounded by defenders, he has the feet to get out of tricky situations while remaining calm.
FW Paulo Dybala, 7 -- The impressive forward never stops playing for the team, creating space for his teammates and demonstrating his intelligence, though he did struggle with Juve's lack of creativity in midfield.
FW Mario Mandzukic, 5 -- He was unable to truly affect the game. Lazio defended well against him and Croatian lacked support from his teammates.
FW Gonzalo Higuain, 6 -- Tried to create opportunities for himself but was thwarted by a determined Lazio side. Did well to hold up play and create space for the others.
DF Stephan Lichtsteiner, NR -- Energetic and dynamic, Lichtsteiner came on and commanded the right side with confidence.
FW Marko Pjaca, NR -- Was only given a few minutes but still managed to produce a shot on goal.
Mina Rzouki covers Juventus and the Italian national team for ESPN FC. Follow her on Twitter: @Minarzouki.