Juventus Win Supercoppa Italiana and Set the Tone for Their Serie A Assault
If any of Antonio Conte's men were rusty after the summer break, they didn't show it. They looked like a well-oiled machine, running on full steam.
Even Carlos Tevez looked completely at ease and totally comfortable with his role within the team—not always an easy thing for a debutant to do. The manager, it seems, has been hard at work.
For their part, Lazio were as brutal as the Bianconeri were brilliant—sluggish, thuggish and devoid of ideas. Vladimir Petkovic might be suffering from a severe case of second-season syndrome.
The Aquile were awful.
There's no point sugar coating it. Only Senad Lulic, and to a lesser extent, Antonio Candreva, managed anything positive. The rest of the team spent the night chasing shadows and lashing out whenever possible.
Stefan Radu and Lucas Biglia, in particular, were heavy-handed throughout the encounter, but all of Petkovic's men were guilty of cynicism and negativity on the night. Even Hernanes—so often the hero for Lazio—was anonymous but for the foolish yellow card he picked up and his subsequent substitution.
The Lazio coach called their capitulation a psychological blackout in his press conference after the game.
With the Serie A season about to start, he'll need to find a quick fix or a good shrink because if there are anymore lapses in the squad's mentality like the one witnessed at the Stadio Olimpico against Juventus, it's going to be a long and miserable season for the Romans.
No mind coaches needed in Turin. Conte's men looked every bit the league champions-elect and not unlike a side that could do serious damage in Europe this year.
The fluidity with which they switched from a three- to a five-man defence when under pressure, the way they cleared the ball quickly and always looked to counter and the way they bossed the midfield have all become Juve hallmarks in recent years.
But this game was interesting for the fact that it lacked another once-familiar trait of Juve's: the less-than-inspiring frontman.
Gone are the days of Amauri and Nicklas Bendtner. Gone, too, it seems, are Fabio Quagliarella and Alessandro Matri, even if they've yet to be sold.
Conte now has a striker to rely on in Tevez and another waiting in the wings in Fernando Llorente.
The Argentine scored a wonderful team goal on his debut, and if his track record is anything to go by, he's going to score a lot more of them over the course of this season. His potency up front could make Juventus too strong for any of the Italian competition—and maybe even a force to be reckoned with in the Champions League.
Elsewhere, the Old Lady's key players all made themselves useful on the night.
Claudio Marchisio looked promising before having to be substituted midway through the first half. It was an event that might have gotten the Juve fans down had the man who replaced him not come on and almost immediately scored.
Paul Pogba's clever turn in the box left the Lazio defence looking silly, and there was little Federico Marchetti could have done.
Then, Giorgio Chiellini scored a great goal after a blistering counter-attack and sent the travelling Juventini into raptures.
Right after, Stephan Lichtsteiner bagged a goal of his own to go with the assist he had for Chiellini's. It was the icing on the cake for a great night from the Swiss wing-back. He was imperious throughout and tireless in his contribution.
And if that wasn't enough, Tevez got his first in Bianconero.
Gianluigi Buffon even made a few good saves at the death to remind us all he hadn't gone home early. All around, it was five-star football from the visitors.
It must be a good time to be a Juve fan. Throngs of them packed into the Olimpico's Curva Sud, normally home to Roma's ultras. And as the Lazio faithful began to leave, their excited cheers almost drowned out the abuse being thrown by the Laziali at their side for what was a performance well beneath their capabilities.
Another trophy, another season of success looming on the horizon.
It's still early, of course. It's dangerous to take too much from one game. But the fact is that on the night, Juventus made what is a solid side look appalling.
Faced with tough defending and physical tactics, they were able to breakthrough almost at will and when they had chances, they took them. If Conte can keep this pace up, there'll be little to stop them winning their third Scudetto in a row.
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