Mandzukic 5/10 but Juve beat Atalanta, reach Coppa Italia final
A Miralem Pjanic penalty was all Juventus needed to defeat Atalanta 1-0 (2-0 on aggregate) to reach the Coppa Italia final for their fourth time in a row.
On a snowy night in Turin, Atalanta played with the right attitude and ambition as they tried to keep the ball and dominate play but couldn't create many clear cut opportunities. Juventus grew into the game and eventually won a penalty, albeit a controversial one. Scoring through Pjanic, Juve used their experience and managed the game well, expending little energy en route to another final.
Four finals in a row and two clean sheets in the semifinals: Juve prove better than most of their domestic opponents again.
This side is good enough to control proceedings and win against Atalanta but Juve lack fluidity and excitement to pass its tougher tests, namely Tottenham. With Gonzalo Higuain not even on the bench, Mario Mandzukic unaware of how to play as a Juve forward and Paulo Dybala still recovering, Massimiliano Allegri should be worried.
Manager rating out of 10
7 -- With so many absences, Allegri had to construct a winning side with the players he had but he did well to get the best out of Douglas Costa. A place in the final and a clean sheet earned with little effort is all Allegri could have hoped for on Wednesday night.
Player ratings (1-10; 10=best; players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating):
GK Gianluigi Buffon, 5 -- On a night when Atalanta produced only one shot on target, Buffon wasn't busy but he did make a terrible decision to come off his line and leave Papu Gomez with the chance to lob the ball. Thankfully, Gomez's effort hit the post.
DF Stephan Lichtsteiner, 6 -- Struggled quite a bit at the beginning but grew into the game, delivering the accurate cross that helped Blaise Matuidi earn the penalty.
DF Mehdi Benatia, 6 -- One of the better players in the team had he not given the ball away to allow Gomez his lob. He is unfortunately capable of such moments but overall enjoyed a very authoritative performance at the back.
DF Giorgio Chiellini, 6 -- Barring earning the yellow card that will see him miss the final, he was very effective at the back. Clearing, intercepting and tackling at every opportunity, no player could get past him. If only he was a little less aggressive at times.
DF Kwadwo Asamoah, 7 -- Delivered some fine balls forward, provided accuracy and great attention to detail in the defensive phase. Always performs when he plays with courage.
MF Claudio Marchisio, 6 -- He really does read the game so well and produced an excellent shot to threaten Etrit Berisha but he's rusty and did eventually grow into the game, which shows he needs time to return to his optimum condition. The most accurate with his passes.
MF Miralem Pjanic, 6 -- Must learn to cope better when he is well defended and bullied off the ball. Poor on the ball at times but he converted the penalty that earned Juventus the win at home. If only he didn't dive.
MF Blaise Matuidi, 6 -- His energy and battling style of play was clearly missed and he won the penalty that earned Juventus the win. A little rusty as a few errors committed.
FW Douglas Costa, 7 -- Perhaps the preview of this match spurred Costa on as he had a very good game. While he's yet to form a good partnership with Mandzukic, with the two getting their wires crossed, he dribbled past everyone, hit the crossbar and delivered key passes. More of the same please.
FW Mario Mandzukic, 5 -- He seemed more comfortable in working for the team than being the man who finished the moves. He laid the ball off, delivered fine through balls and held off defenders but struggled to act as a clear reference point or actually produce danger. Disappointing.
FW Alex Sandro, 5 -- Confused in a wide attacking role, Sandro seemed to have no idea how to deliver for the team and he was dispossessed often. He played so well against Torino but couldn't repeat the feat on Wednesday night.
MF Sami Khedira, 6 -- Came on and started the decisive action that led to the converted penalty.
FW Paulo Dybala, NR -- Not on for long enough to make an impact.
DF Andrea Barzagli, NR -- Came on in the final minutes.
Mina Rzouki covers Juventus and the Italian national team for ESPN FC. Follow her on Twitter: @Minarzouki.