Cristiano Ronaldo gets 6/10 after latest goalless outing; Mario Mandzukic clutch in Juventus win
Another three points for Juventus as they defeated Parma 2-1 to send themselves to the top of the Serie A table. Whether they deserved the win is another point entirely.
Mario Mandzukic opened the scoring within the first two minutes of kick-off, yet Parma refused to lie down. Fighting tooth and nail, they played in organised fashion with pace and intensity and eventually got their equaliser.
The Old Lady improved in the second half, making more intelligent moves in the final third and eventually found the winner. Parma tried to come back again but ultimately lost their ability to provide quality when it mattered.
It seems neither Mandzukic nor Blaise Matuidi is suffering from a World Cup hangover. Both players appear to be in excellent physical condition and both scored on the night to guarantee the win.
We had hoped the 4-3-3 would help resolve certain defensive weaknesses we saw Juve exhibit in their first match against Chievo Verona. But those frailties were very much on show against Parma. Once again, the Bianconeri have yet to cope with direct and fast players, suffering from Gervinho's pace and dynamism and collapsing with ease at the back. Until Massimiliano Allegri resolves their defensive issues, Juve's attack will suffer. Security at the back will allow for freedom going forward.
Manager rating out of 10
6 -- Allegri's side is yet to play with fluidity and excitement, especially in attack. But Juve's performance improved in the second half as the coach corrected the mistakes that allowed them to secure the win.
Player ratings (1-10; 10=best; players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating):
GK Wojciech Szczesny, 6 -- Looked a little uncomfortable and ought to have done better on Parma's equaliser. However, he was brilliant to deny Luca Rigoni's shots.
DF Juan Cuadrado, 6 -- One of the few who can delight and disappoint on a consistent basis. Delivered the great cross for Mandzukic's goal but should have been more cautious in the defensive phase. His decision-making continues to let him down.
DF Leonardo Bonucci, 5 -- Neither he nor his defensive partner anticipated Parma's movements well, allowing for dangerous moments. Dropped his concentration on too many occasions to allow the opponent to push.
DF Giorgio Chiellini, 5 -- Suffered against the pace of Gervinho. Not his best performance today and should have done better on Parma's equaliser.
DF Alex Sandro, 6 -- Struggled defensively against Gervinho but did enough when pushing in attack, helping to initiate the move that led to Matuidi's winner.
MF Sami Khedira, 6 -- Allegri's game requires runners from midfield. And like Matuidi, Khedira didn't do enough of that in the first half. Was better in the second. Shame he spurned the perfect opportunity for a goal.
MF Miralem Pjanic, 5 -- Performances like Saturday's make many worry how consistently and how much Pjanic can deliver to a side desperate for his talent. He needs to dictate the movements in midfield yet struggles to be the leader, to set the pace and to make an impact. Always struggles against either fast or physical opponents and he simply has to improve this season.
MF Blaise Matuidi, 7 -- Neither he nor Khedira did enough with regard to timely runs into the box to offer alternatives in the attacking phase in the first half. However, he improved greatly as the game wore on and got the winner to ensure the club celebrated. Looked to be in great physical shape.
FW Federico Bernardeschi, 6 -- Earning a yellow card for simulation, Bernardeschi's talent would be a lot more appreciated if he played with greater discipline and composure. Often fouls needlessly, wastes great positions and looks to trick the referee. If he played with greater maturity, Bernardeschi would shine as he can produce so much. Threatened when pushing forward in the first half but more must be demanded.
FW Mario Mandzukic, 7 -- Despite minimal time to relax after the World Cup, Mandzukic looks anything but exhausted. Grabbed the goal, worked tirelessly and delivered the most beautiful back-heel assist for Matuidi's winner. Clutch.
FW Cristiano Ronaldo, 6 -- The drought continues. Eight shots on goal, only one on target, but Ronaldo just couldn't find his way past Parma's organised defence. He laboured and toiled and nearly managed his Juve opener with a header but left empty-handed despite moving from the middle to the left. Still developing an understanding with his new teammates.
FW Douglas Costa, 7 -- His speed and technical skill on the ball immediately gave Juve a jolt. Came close to scoring but hit the post.
MF Emre Can, N/A -- Recovered possession and ensured strength in the middle to secure the win.
FW Paulo Dybala, N/A -- Came on too late to make an impact.