Massimiliano Allegri’s boys dug deep to grind out a 2-1 win over a highly energetic Napoli side at home. It was a tactical game where both teams waited for the opposition blink.
Gonzalo Higuain grabbed the headlines by scoring the winner against his former employers in the 75th minute. Leonardo Bonucci opened the scoring for the hosts as he punished a miscued clearance by Napoli defence. Jose Callejon brought the visitors back on level terms albeit for a brief interval.
Sarri’s team now are seven points adrift the current league leaders and reigning champions Juventus after tonight’s agonizing defeat.
Gigi Buffon – 8/10
The legendary Italian was at his imperious best as he marshaled his troops with grit to keep a spirited Napoli at bay. He made quite a few telling saves to deny the visitors a deserved lead in both the halves. Gigi tonight didn’t disappoint anyone with his display at the Juventus Stadium.
Andrea Barzagli – 7/10
Calm, composed and collected are the words which sum up Barzagli’s evening. He did well to keep a slimy Insigne in check and shut out the right side channel with his astute vigil. In fact, he was more effective when Allegri switched to a back four as he completely dominated Mertens in the second half.
Leonardo Bonucci – 9/10
Once again he rose to the occasion and haunted Napoli by scoring a scratchy goal to change the tide of the game. He not only influenced the game with his goal but also ran the show from the heart of defense as he played some exquisite balls from the back. His distribution today was simply brilliant along with his smart tackling and tactical superiority. No wonder he is world’s most sought after centre-half!
Giorgio Chiellini – 5/10
The injury-plagued Italian defender had a patchy 35 minutes before succumbing to yet another injury. The Juve veteran struggled to cope with the pace and slick passing of Jose Callejon down the left-sided channel. He also got himself needlessly booked when he drove forward during one of his attacking adventures. It was a performance which was miles away from his quintessential best.
Stephan Lichtsteiner – 7/10
The Swiss wingback had a dodgy first half where he caught in two minds regarding everything. But he got his act together in the second half and was reminiscent of his older self with some marauding runs down the right flank.
Sami Khedira – 8/10
Khedira was one of the few Bianconneri men who had a decent first half and took their game up a couple of notches in the second half. The former Real Madrid man was smart with his direct passing and surging runs but he too at times was left reeling by Napoli’s high-intensity pressing. It was his vision and creativity which gave the Italian champions their winner.
Hernanes – 7/10
The Brazilian dynamo had a subdued first half but his fortunes flipped dramatically as soon as the Bianconneri switched to a back four. With his smart positioning, his influence on the game grew exponentially in the second half. Although he ran out of gas by the 75th minute, Hernanes surely did his bit to bring his team back in the ascendancy.
Miralem Pjanic – 6/10
He was effortlessly bullied by Napoli midfielders for most of the game as they reduced him to a mere periphery figure in the first half and a considerable part of the second as well. The summer recruit failed to tick the Juve midfield as he was unable to deal with the intense press of Napoli midfield.
Alex Sandro – 6/10
He, like his fellow teammates, had a tentative beginning. He seemed clueless every time he faced Callejon, who tormented the left back at every possible instant. The Brazilian was so occupied with his defensive duties that he rarely bombed forward. It was only after the hour mark, when he began to reinvent his game.
Mario Mandzukic – 7/10
The Croat impressed one and all with his relentlessness especially in the second half where he operated from wings as opposed to his favored central position. He unlucky to not register himself on the scoresheet but it was more of his teammates’ fault who failed to create clear cut chances for him on a regular basis.
Gonzalo Higuain – 7.5/10
The Argentine completed the script with his inglorious winner at the Juventus Stadium. The Argentine was simply awful in the first half and pedestrian in the second as he wasted tons of chances to seal the game for the Old Lady. Soon, his class bailed him out as he scored what came to be the winning goal with a thunderous finish from 15 yards, which was more of a hopeful pop at the goal rather than a well etched out strike.
Juan Cuadrado – 7/10
The Chelsea loanee was pivotal in Juventus’ revival in the second half as it was his accommodation in the lineup which prompted Allegri to switch to a back four. He put in a shift down the wings to provide much-needed respite to the home team from Napoli’s pressing.
Claudio Marchisio – 7/10
The Juve stalwart announced his arrival in style as his presence freed up Khedira, who in turn laid the foundations for the winner. Coming back from a lengthy injury layoff, the Italian looked just fine against a boisterous visitors’ midfield.
Stefano Sturaro – 6/10
He was brought on to protect Juve’s one goal lead and followed his boss’ instructions to the tee. He was compact and energetic in his 10-minute cameo.