Paulo Dybala, Alex Sandro fail to create in Juve's disappointing draw to SPAL
Juventus' 12-match winning streak came to an end when little SPAL showed enough discipline and determination to hold Juve to a 0-0 draw, effectively reopening the title race.
The Old Lady had come into the match in fine physical and mental form and were expected to grab all three points with ease. However, SPAL proved well organised at home as they sought to frustrate the opponent. While they showed little ambition going forward, they were clever in how they disrupted Juve's game by any means necessary to ensure the Turin giants couldn't establish a playing rhythm and cause a real attacking threat.
In matches such as these, Juventus need to adapt their approach, grit their teeth and display their physicality but they struggled throughout and left with only one point.
The clean sheet which is the very least we could expect from this game.
There's no point winning impressively in the last minute against Lazio if you cannot beat SPAL. This draw means Juve have reopened the title race and Napoli now have a chance of reducing the gap at the top of the table to two points.
Manager rating out of 10
5 -- Massimiliano Allegri had warned his men that this was a potential banana skin of a match and Juve did not show enough or impose themselves in a manner to break down a disciplined but inferior opponent. The squad looked unbalanced, the approach to the game was wrong, and it seems the Alex Sandro experiment is failing.
Player ratings (1-10; 10=best; players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating):
GK, Gianluigi Buffon, 6 -- SPAL had no shots on target and were concentrated on keeping it tight at the back, leaving Buffon with little to do all game.
DF Mattia De Sciglio, 6 -- Ought to have shown a little more courage when pushing forward. However, he can at least be depended on defensively, intercepting well to ensure safety at the back.
DF Daniele Rugani, 6 -- At times his positioning still needs a little work but a composed performance from the youngster. Remained alert to the threat of danger throughout.
DF Giorgio Chiellini, 6 -- Another solid performance from the defender who did well to surge forward and offer something in attack while ensuring defensive strength at the back.
DF Kwadwo Asamoah, 6 -- Provided a little more of a push but struggled to control his lane and provide the outlet required of him.
MF Miralem Pjanic, 4 -- Anonymous in midfield in a match where his creativity was really needed. Failed to provide the ingenuity or the ability to break down a solid and organised defence. Instead, he simply fouled the opponent stupidly.
MF Blaise Matuidi, 5 -- Like his companion in midfield, anonymous.
FW Douglas Costa, 6 -- One of the better players on the night, providing good passes in an attempt to penetrate a solid defence. He was practically the only Bianconero to offer an attacking threat, overwhelming the opponent. Again, needs to release before getting dispossessed and remain focused for the entirety of the match.
FW Paulo Dybala, 5 -- The youngster needs to adapt to the opponent and in such a match, he was required to show strength, stay on his feet and fight to keep possession and create opportunities. Instead he looked frustrated and let his team down, displaying only flashes of brilliance when the squad needed a leader.
FW Alex Sandro, 5 -- Watching him lose the ball is something to be expected nowadays. Tactically confused, disorganised and mediocre at best. He is not succeeding in an advanced position and struggled to even produce when pushed further back towards the end.
FW Gonzalo Higuain, 5 -- He too failed to really impose himself on the match, but his team failed to really provide the support required to unleash his powers.
FW Mario Mandzukic, 6 -- Failed to capitalise on the opportunity he had to score and struggled to really provide the decisive action Juve needed.
DF Andrea Barzagli, NR -- Came on to ensure experience at the back after Chiellini was taken off due to injury.
MF Rodrigo Bentancur, NR -- Wasn't given enough time to make an impact.
Mina Rzouki covers Juventus and the Italian national team for ESPN FC. Follow her on Twitter: @Minarzouki.