Juventus moved back to the top of Serie A with a 1-0 win over rivals Torino at the Derby Della Mole on Saturday. A 70th-minute winner from defender Matthijs De Ligt gave Maurizio Sarri’s side all three points to jump over Inter Milan in the league table and also gain bragging rights against their city rivals.
Story of the Game
Torino came into the game in desperate need of a win and started the game firing on all cylinders when a first-minute corner saw Gleison Bremer’s header saved by Wojciech Szczesny.
In the seventh minute, Simone Verdi also had a sight at goal and struck fiercely from a long way out, only to see his shot go over the target. There was some controversy a few minutes later when both sides had penalty calls turned down. Souailho Meite and Matthijs De Ligt both handled the ball inside their area, but the referee didn’t see enough cause to award a penalty.
Juventus created a beautiful attacking move in the 20th minute, which ended up Paulo Dybala taking a shot which blazed over the target. Dybala started flaunting his majestic dribbling ability, floating past multiple bodies before forcing a strong save from Salvatore Sirigu just after the half-hour mark.
But the hosts had a brilliant chance to go ahead in the 35th minute when Andrea Belotti roared into the box from the right and laid it to Meitei, whose attempt went sailing over.
The Bianconeri had some big chances to get the lead towards the end of the half, but both Leonardo Bonnucci and De Ligt were denied with some stunning, clutch saves from Sirigu.
The Italian was at it again in the second half, saving a darting shot from Cristiano Ronaldo in the 57th minute to increase Juventus’ frustrations. Substitute Gonzalo Higuain made quite the impact after coming on, forcing another excellent save from Sirigu in the 69th minute when his thunderous volley was parried over.
However, the Bianconeri finally found the lead a minute later, when a corner was played deep for Higuain to square it up, allowing De Ligt to hit a volley from yards out, scoring his first Juventus goal in the Turin Derby. Christian Ansaldi went on a whirling run forward and threatened to end their high in the 72nd minute, but Szczesny saved well to deny him.
Torino almost gifted their rivals a second in the 86th minute when a botched header sent Aaron Ramsey through, but Sirigu kept strong in saving his attempt as well. The hosts pressed for an equalizer and even scored in added time, but it was judged offside to give the visitors bragging rights.
Takeaways from the Game
Maurizio Sarri’s substitution works a treat again in Derby
Juventus were frustrated by Torino’s defensive wall, which sat quite deep which didn’t allow the Bianconeri to move as freely as they’d want to. So Maurizio Sarri decided to roll the dice and switch Dybala for Higuain, who made an impact against Inter Milan. Well, a sort of déjà vu happened today as the Argentine changed the complexion of the game.
He wondered into all the right positions, forcing Sirigu to retain his best touch. Higuain also cleverly found De Ligt with a cheeky pass for the winner, proving to be influential off the bench again. Ramsey also brought some spark and bite to Juventus’ attacking third, as his substitutions saved the game from being another drab draw for the Bianconeri.
Torino are too reliant on Andrea Belotti
Torino have some talented attacking options in the side, with Simone Verdi being one with all the traits of an opportunistic individual. Yet despite their talent, Walter Mazzarri’s side clings onto captain Andrea Belotti to do something special and win them points. The same case ensued in the derby, as the Italian was burdened with too many responsibilities in the attacking front.
To his credit, he skipped past Juventus’ rigid defence and created some promising chances, only to see his compatriots scuff it. Despite being heavily-marked, Belotti tried his absolute best when his team-mates were too inclined on defending. Torino needs to ease the pressure on their captain for turning up with the goods all the time, as this performance proved how horribly dependent they are on their striker.
Juventus are still lacking a cutting-edge playmaker
While the Bianconeri dominated much of the possession in the derby, they couldn’t really make that good use of it as they would’ve originally wanted to. Of course, the signs of Sarriball flourishing is there with some intricate passing moves which dazzled fans in the derby as well, but Juventus are lacking that final product in their attacks at times. Dybala was pressurized to drop deep and create chances, while much of their moves came through the wings.
Federico Bernardeschi failed to impress in a playmaker role again, failing to get much done. Juventus need someone who can constantly create proper goal-scoring chances and open up defences. Ramsey’s, of course, a diligent figure to get things moving in attack and perhaps it’s time for Sarri to find that creative wizard in his squad to get the excitement factor back to Juventus.
Matthijs De Ligt had many questions pondering about his ability at a big club but shut his doubters up with a match-winning performance for the Old Lady. Not only was he a rock in defence, making crucial challenges, clearances and keeping the dangerous Belotti contained, but he also came up with the winner to prove why he’s regarded as such a decisive figure.
Gonzalo Higuain turned up with another super-sub performance, assisting De Ligt’s goal with a neat cut-back to prove that he’s still got that knack of changing games. Salvatore Sirigu did his absolute best trying to win a point for his side with his persistent saves but went down fighting at the end.