Cristiano Ronaldo struggles on home debut as Juventus overcome Lazio
Juventus defeated Lazio 2-0 in their first home game of the season, as Massimiliano Allegri was vindicated in using a 4-3-3 formation.
Many were surprised Allegri chose to bench Paulo Dybala and Douglas Costa but against Lazio, a side that defeated them twice last season, the coach didn't want to take any chances. His decisions paid off as Juve looked far more organised and compact.
While Cristiano Ronaldo may have struggled, Miralem Pjanic delivered a beautiful half-volley to open the scoring in the first half. The Old Lady eventually found a second goal when Joao Cancelo burst forward and delivered for Ronaldo, only for him to miss and allow Mario Mandzukic to capitalise.
Considering the many defensive errors made in their opening 3-2 win at Chievo, it was good to see Juve's back line operating efficiently and in organised fashion, with the midfield ensuring their presence was felt as they recovered possession often. Gaps were filled quickly, while Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini proved once again they are the best centre-back pairing the club has seen in some time.
Juve still lack the fluidity required to bring out the best of the men up front but developing chemistry takes time and Allegri will soon crack the tactical code for ensuring defensive security as well as an efficient attack.
Manager rating out of 10
8 -- Just when we had doubted Allegri, he responded by deploying a balanced 4-3-3 formation to ensure a strong midfield showing. While Juve still lack fluidity in the final third, something that will take time to develop, they did enough to win.
Player ratings (1-10; 10=best; players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating):
GK Wojciech Szczesny, 6 -- Came out to rescue the team when Juve had pushed high up and lost possession. Excellent at reading the patterns of play and ensuring safety at the back.
DF Joao Cancelo, 6 -- Better than last week when it came to the defensive side of the game. While he still leaves too many holes to plug at the back when he charges forward, he delivered enough in attack to warrant forgiveness. Delivered the pass for Juve's second goal.
DF Leonardo Bonucci, 7 -- Booed by the Curva but applauded by the rest of the stadium every time he found himself in the right place at the right time to rescue the team with interceptions and blocks.
DF Giorgio Chiellini, 7 -- Threw himself at every opportunity to thwart Ciro Immobile & Co. Played like the warrior he is: blocked, intercepted and ensured the clean sheet.
DF Alex Sandro, 5 -- Allowed Lazio to dominate his area when attacking, forcing Blaise Matuidi to constantly fill the gaps, but he delivered little going forward. However, the desire was there even if the performance wasn't to his usual standard.
MF Sami Khedira, 6 -- Denied by the post but very efficient, especially so when in a three-man midfield.
MF Miralem Pjanic, 7 -- He had the right ideas and he delivered even if he wasn't always read by his teammates. His goal was nothing short of stunning.
MF Blaise Matuidi, 7 -- Excellent. Always plugged the gaps left behind when Sandro would push up and worked hard to regain possession to ensure Juve were on the front foot. If only he played with a little more accuracy.
FW Federico Bernardeschi, 7 -- Very good in the first half, weaving his way through in the final third, looking to create. Excellent at finding and exploiting spaces. Created the first goal but fell off in the second half and was replaced.
FW Mario Mandzukic, 7 -- The best at exploiting a situation. Didn't always read Pjanic's intentions but he worked hard and ensured he was in the right place at the right time to capitalise from Cancelo's perfect pass when Ronaldo couldn't. As ever, determined with the defensive side of the game.
FW Cristiano Ronaldo, 6 -- The fans went crazy when Ronaldo engaged in a little defensive play, tracking back to help the team, but he struggled to produce anything worthwhile in attack in the first half. He was tightly marked and frustrated by Lazio's defending and Juve's lack of fluidity. He was much better in the second half and came so close to a beautiful goal in the 70th minute that produced a marvelous finger-tip save from Thomas Strakosha in the Lazio goal. Missed an open goal that Mandzukic was able to convert but he at least registered an assist.
FW Douglas Costa, 6 -- His speedy play is exciting to watch but he struggled to create too much.
MF Emre Can, 5 -- Could do with a little more composure. Can be aggressive when he loses possession.
MF Rodrigo Bentancur, N/R -- Not on for long, yet quickly showed his courage and character.