In a bizarre match, Chievo Verona proved their immaturity and earned two red cards, allowing Juventus to win 2-0.
Despite a strong defensive performance that frustrated Juventus, Chievo surrendered to childish errors, resulting in red cards to allow Juventus the opportunity to keep trying for goal.
Barely tested defensively, the Old Lady could only find the breakthrough after the Flying Donkeys went down to nine men with a powerful shot from Sami Khedira, followed by a Gonzalo Higuain goal, to earn all three points and go top in the Serie A table… at least until Napoli play.
Gonzalo Higuain finally ended his scoring drought by registering his first Serie A goal since Dec. 1.
Juventus need to be better in destabilising the opponent, moving the ball quicker to create spaces from which to strike at goal. At times, they are far too predictable, allowing the opponent all the time in the world to organise themselves defensively to hinder Juve from mounting dangerous attacks.
Manager rating out of 10
6 — Massimiliano Allegri decided on a 4-3-3 formation that ensures more defensive solidity than it does attacking brilliance, something deemed unnecessary against the likes of Chievo, who quickly showed their lack of offensive ambition. Allegri did eventually have four attackers on the pitch but in truth, he should have started the match with a different formation.
Player ratings (1-10; 10=best; players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating):
GK Wojciech Szczesny, 6 — A spectator for the first half but excellent when he came rushing out to stop Ivan Radovanovic. Remained alert and attentive.
DF Mattia De Sciglio, 6 — Stable and reliable but needs to play with a greater level of confidence and ambition.
DF Andrea Barzagli, 6 — Attentive and composed as always. Reliable but also barely tested.
DF Mehdi Benatia, 6 — Barely tested and pushed forward to help the attack. Did well to provide precision with his long balls.
DF Kwadwo Asamoah, 6 — Proving to be a reliable presence on the left, providing energy and a clear understanding with his teammates. Dynamic and physical, enduing the foul that led to Samuel Bastien’s dismissal.
MF Sami Khedira, 7 — A spectacular goal to open the scoring for Juventus and relive the pressure. Good in both phases of the game as he stole possession and looked for spaces to exploit. More importantly, always tried to see how he can penetrate a defensively organised back-line, delivering shots from distance in hopes of piercing through.
MF Miralem Pjanic, 6 — Delivered key pass after key pass but needs to manage the tempo better. Good mobility, great vision but still room for improvement.
MF Stefano Sturaro, 5 — Offers physicality and combative play but little else in terms of decisive impact. Not at the level required for a team like Juve.
FW Douglas Costa, 7 — Much better when allowed to play on the left, providing width and delivering the threat we expect from him going forward. One of the few who offered a change of pace and some unpredictability.
FW Gonzalo Higuain, 6 — Finally registered a goal and well defended against. Sometimes a little too desperate to get the goal so not as helpful to the side but perhaps the goal will help relieve the pressure.
FW Mario Mandzukic, 5 — Offered nothing going forward. Better when it came to tackling the opponent but not a game he’ll remember.
FW Federico Bernardeschi, 6 — Made the impact quickly after coming on, creating danger and delivering the assist for Khedira’s goal. Must be more careful to not be robbed of possession as he allowed Chievo a chance to attack.
DF Stephan Lichtsteiner, NR — Hardly tested defensively but tried to help penetrate defensively in the final stages,
MF Rodrigo Bentancur, NR — Not on long enough to make an impact.
Mina Rzouki covers Juventus and the Italian national team for ESPN FC. Follow her on Twitter: @Minarzouki.