Gonzalo Higuain, Daniele Rugani shine as Juve cruise past lowly Pescara
Gonzalo Higuain grabbed another brace to help Juventus defeat Pescara 2-0 and take another step forward to winning the club's sixth consecutive league title.
It was clear that many of the Juve players had their minds elsewhere and thus played a less than enthralling game, relying on certain individual moments of beauty and a determined Higuain to make the difference.
Pescara had started the match aggressively, applying pressure to try to make an impact, but against a side boasting such technical superiority, they could not compete. Juventus instead waited for their chances and produced with efficiency to seal another three points.
Defensive strength will always be part of Juve's DNA and it was great to watch the young Daniele Rugani play with so much character and composure. The future of Juve's back line, the youngster demonstrated his passing range, maintained his concentration throughout the match and ensured safety at the back. A future defensive icon.
The ankle injury Paulo Dybala suffered in the 54th minute forced him off the pitch and he could be in doubt for the match against Barcelona on Wednesday evening. In a match against a side that is practically relegated, a little rotation may have saved Massimiliano Allegri a lot of worrying. There was no need for so many attacking stars to start this match.
Manager rating out of 10
6 -- Perhaps Allegri didn't need all his best players on the pitch against a side that are almost certain to be relegated and the Dybala injury will weigh heavily on him. Angered by the team's pedestrian play for much of the game, but it was another routine win for the Bianconeri.
Player ratings (1-10; 10=best; players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Neto, 6 -- Infrequently called into action but rarely looked entirely comfortable at the back.
DF Stephan Lichtsteiner, 6 -- A standard performance from the full-back who pushed forward and helped provide balance.
DF Andrea Barzagli, 6 -- Produced a great moment of defending in the first half. Composed and intelligent, he wasn't too troubled by the opponent.
DF Daniele Rugani, 7 -- Concentrated and determined, the player acted as a vice-Bonucci, looking for the right passes, neutralising the opponent and providing security. Excellent.
DF Kwadwo Asamoah, 6 -- Played a very good game, pushed forward with ambition while never missing a beat defensively -- tackling, intercepting and winning back possession with desire.
MF Miralem Pjanic, 5 -- Perhaps his defensive contributions against Barcelona wore him out as Pjanic was barely interested today. Low on concentration, lethargic in his movements.
MF Claudio Marchisio, 6 -- The lack of continuity has impacted the player who always attempts to establish a rhythm for the side. Proved better at directing play in the second half.
MF Juan Cuadrado, 6 -- Not the best at releasing the ball quickly and can still prove so frustrating, but when he applies himself well, he's vital for the team due to his ability to create. Produced the assist for the first goal.
MF Paulo Dybala, 6 -- Managed little on the day, looking a little tired. As always produced an exciting move or two but the ankle injury will weigh heavily on the club.
MF Mario Mandzukic, 6 -- Once again the attacker acted as Juve's best defender, recovering possession 12 times, more than any other player. He also managed to set up Higuain's second goal. A team player offering balance to the side.
FW Gonzalo Higuain, 7 -- Another brace for the forward who continues to demonstrate efficiency and determination. Played for the team, fought for the ball and finished to perfection. Now he needs to score in Europe.
MF Tomas Rincon, 6 -- Helped to provide defensive security. Always does what is asked of him.
MF Stefano Sturaro, 6 -- Always prepared to fight for his team, always plays with determination.
MF Mario Lemina, N/A -- Not offered any time to make an impact.
Mina Rzouki covers Juventus and the Italian national team for ESPN FC. Follow her on Twitter: @Minarzouki.