Cuadrado puts Juventus in control early as Bianconeri beat Olympiakos
Mission accomplished in Greece as Juventus defeated Olympiakos 2-0 to secure qualification to the knockout round of the Champions League.
Juventus made a strong start and it didn't take long before Juan Cuadrado scored an easy goal to ensure control of the game. Keeping the home side at bay, it was Juve who continued creating chances.
However, as we have come to expect against inferior opponents, the Bianconeri became too relaxed in the second half, inviting pressure from Olympiakos who looked a different prospect when Marko Marin came on. Putting Juventus under pressure, the Greeks created several chances and came close as they hit the crossbar, but Juve secured the result when Federico Bernardeschi came on in the end and scored a sensational goal to ensure qualification.
Juventus ran too many risks but it was mission accomplished for the Italians. Having just defeated Napoli on Friday and with Inter to look forward to on Saturday, Juve did just enough against Olympiakos to keep progressing in Europe and have enough energy to keep impressing in Serie A.
Until Sept. 23, Paulo Dybala scored a goal every 54 minutes; now he is averaging a goal every 500 minutes. Short on confidence and far from capable of influencing the match, the real Dybala seems to have disappeared, leaving a lifeless body on the pitch.
Manager rating out of 10
6 -- Another win and another clean sheet, Massimiliano Allegri has progressed to the knockout stages for the eighth consecutive time. With the squad doing just enough to secure the win, Allegri is navigating this exhausting schedule well.
Player ratings (1-10; 10=best; players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating):
GK, Wojciech Szczesny, 7 -- Made a great save with his feet to deny Uros Djurdjevic in the first half and came to the side's rescue twice after that. Strong and alert, he ensured Juve left with a clean sheet.
DF Mattia De Sciglio, 6 -- Accurate with his long balls, growing in confidence and cautious.
DF Andrea Barzagli, 6 -- Alert and confident, coming to the rescue when Medhi Benatia made a mistake to give the opponent a chance.
DF Medhi Benatia, 6 -- Only one real mistake from the player but vital with his clearances and snatching the ball off the opponent.
DF Alex Sandro, 6 -- A better performance from the full-back who delivered the perfect pass for Cuadrado to score. Pushed forward well and looked for the right pass. His impact waned in the second half and looked less assured.
MF Sami Khedira, 6 -- Good with his passing as he tried to launch his team forward but not yet at his best physical level.
MF Blaise Matuidi, 7 -- Delivered a sensational pass forward for Alex Sandro that led to Cuadrado's goal. Exploited the right spaces, covered ground and was precise with his passing. A bundle of energy.
MF Juan Cuadrado, 6 -- Started the game well with his work between the lines and he scored the opening goal. However, he lacked precision with his passing and tries to force the issue too often when it's wiser to keep possession and make the right decision.
MF Paulo Dybala, 5 -- Still not having the desired impact on the game. Started well when he forced an excellent save but disappeared thereafter. No goal, no inspiration, he conceded possession cheaply far too often and didn't impress with his decision making. Not good enough from such a talented player.
MF Douglas Costa, 6 -- After such a terrific performance against Napoli, more was expected from the player who impressed between the lines in the beginning but then dropped off. Must be consistent.
FW Gonzalo Higuain, 6 -- Didn't score the decisive goal on the night but worked hard for the team as he dropped back, helped his teammates and made the right runs. His performances are hindered when Dybala isn't on point.
MF Miralem Pjanic, 6 -- Clearly not in the best condition so he couldn't' make the impact he's capable of.
DF Daniele Rugani, 5 -- His focus was elsewhere and lost El Fardou Ben Nabouhane to allow Olympiakos a great chance. Needs to improve quickly.
MF Federico Bernardeschi, N/A -- Came on and caused trouble straight away before scoring a sensational goal to secure the result.
Mina Rzouki covers Juventus and the Italian national team for ESPN FC. Follow her on Twitter: @Minarzouki.