Italian champions Juventus kicked off their 2020/21 Serie A campaign on a positive note with a 3-0 win over Sampdoria. Andrea Pirlo, a former Bianconeri club legend and recently-appointed manager of the club, and would undoubtedly be delighted to begin his reign with three points.
There were plenty of doubts surrounding the Italian icon's credentials for the job as this is his first-ever management endeavour at any level. However, his side looked fairly comfortable on the night and are set to be boosted by the returns of Paulo Dybala, Matthijs de Ligt, Alex Sandro, and potentially, the arrival of Edin Dzeko.
Juventus looked noticeably more energetic and willing to cover more ground than they did towards the back end of last season. The tempo they maintained, the tenacity in midfield, and the levels of energy were impressive, especially given that this is the first competitive game they've lined up for under Pirlo.
New signing Dejan Kulusevski was the star of the show for the Old Lady on his debut for the club. The Swedish wonderkid was impeccable on the night and drifted all across the front line, displaying his superb versatility and understanding of spaces.
The 20-year-old scored an absolutely sublime goal in the 13th minute to open his Juventus account. After finding a pocket of space in the box, Kulusevski picked up the ball after a ricochet and beautifully curled the ball past a helpless Emil Audero.
Fellow debutant Weston McKennie was also one of the best players on the night as the American was rampant in the middle, relentlessly winning the ball back for his side. He was denied his debut goal by a breathtaking save from Audero in the 83rd minute.
After coming close to scoring on several occasions, Bianconeri superstar Cristiano Ronaldo finally got his first goal of 2020/21 goal after powerfully slotting the ball past the keeper in the dying minutes of the game.
Claudio Ranieri's Sampdoria left a good account of themselves, as they proved to be a notoriously difficult side to play against. In fact, there is an argument that can be made for the scoreline not being a fair reflection of the game. Sampdoria called Wojciech Szczesny into action multiple times in the second half as they threatened to restore parity.
Ultimately, the record Italian champions were too good for them on the night and kicked off their league campaign with all three points. Here, we take a look at the player ratings for the Juventus players for their 3-0 win over Sampdoria.
Juventus Player Ratings
Wojciech Szczesny: 7/10
Serie A's best goalkeeper in the 2019/20 campaign didn't have too much to do in the first half. When he was called upon towards the end of the game, though, he did not disappoint. Szczesny made two crucial quickfire saves to keep Juventus' clean sheet intact and was comfortable with the ball at his feet. Solid outing.
Juan Cuadrado: 6.5/10
Playing as the right midfielder or the right-wing-back based on whether or not they were in possession, Cuadrado functioned well as the outlet on the flanks. He didn't have too much to do in the first half but was far more impressive in the second, firing in a few noteworthy crosses from wide areas.
Georgio Chiellini: 7.5/10
Sampdoria piled on the pressure towards the back end of the game but Chiellini, Juventus' veteran leader, was simply infallible. The Italian was defensively as solid as ever, and was assured with the ball at his feet, registering 71 passes (third highest on the pitch) and completed 95.9% of them.
Leonardo Bonucci: 7.5/10
Much like Chiellini, fellow Italian veteran Leonardo Bonucci was another player who looked assured at the back for Juventus. The 33-year-old was the chief distributor of the ball from the back and completed seven of his ten long balls on the night, along with 93% of his 66 passes. Registered most clearances on the night and scored his side's second goal from a set-piece.
Playing in a relatively unfamiliar position as the third centre-half in the absence of Matthijs de Ligt, Danilo barely put a foot wrong against Sampdoria. The Brazilian registered the most number of passes, touches, and interceptions on the night and put in a substantial shift in Pirlo's first game as head coach.
Gianluca Frabotta: 6.5/10
The 21-year-old Italian rookie had to step in for an injured Alex Sandro and did relatively well on the night at the Allianz Stadium. Frabotta looked flustered in the first half and made a rash challenge or two, but as the game went on, he grew into his role until being subbed later on for Mattia De Sciglio.
Weston McKennie: 8/10
One of the best players on the pitch in the opening 45 minutes. The American threw himself about and fearlessly won the ball back [second most tackles and interceptions for Juve], showing the Bianconeri the sort of energy that they were missing last year. A promising debut from a player who could prove to be a shrewd acquisition from Pirlo's side.
Adrien Rabiot: 7.5/10
The Frenchman picked up right where he left off last season with a classy display in the midfield. The former PSG man glided across midfield, switched play and kept the side ticking effortlessly, registering more passes than anyone on the pitch bar Danilo. Rabiot could make himself a mainstay under the new boss if he continues to keep playing this way.
Aaron Ramsey: 8.5/10
After an underwhelming debut campaign, Aaron Ramsey finally looked like the player that Juventus drafted in on a free last year. The Welshman was an energetic presence in the final third, continually finding pockets of space in Sampdoria's half and threatened massively with his movement. Created the third goal with a superb splitting pass and registered more tackles and key passes (both six) than anyone on the pitch. A blend of an industrious and creative performance from the former Gunners star.
Dejan Kulusevski: 8/10
The 20-year-old will be remembered as the man who scored the first goal in the Andrea Pirlo era, and what a goal it was. Kulusevski's peach of an opener was impressive, to say the least, and so was his performance. The Swede left an excellent account of himself and is sure to give Paulo Dybala a lot of competition for his spot in attack.
Cristiano Ronaldo: 8.5/10
The Portuguese would have felt aggrieved if this game ended without a goal to his name, but he finally got it towards the end of the game. Cristiano Ronaldo did everything on the night including a thunderous strike that rattled the crossbar in the first half. The 35-year-old registered his side's third goal and came close to scoring on a handful of occasions, including a dipping free-kick parried away by Audero. Juve's record-breaking striker also notched up an assist for the opener.
Mattia De Sciglio: 6.5/10
Came on as a replacement for Frabotta and delivered a couple of dangerous crosses into the box. Also came close to scoring with an effort from range.
Rodrigo Bentancur: 6.5/10
Came on for Cuadrado with just 12 minutes to spare and kept things tidy in the middle. Did not see too much of the ball in this period.
Douglas Costa: N/A
Merih Demiral: N/A
Published 21 Sep 2020, 03:29 IST