Following last week’s win over Cagliari, Juventus hosted another of Serie A’s tough-to-beat smaller sides. Sampdoria came into this match in mixed form, going undefeated in their last six matches of 2013 but enduring a difficult start to 2014.
A loss to Napoli was followed by a Coppa Italia exit at the hands of Roma before Sinisa Mihajlovic got back on track with a victory over Udinese last week. That ill-tempered encounter ended with three red cards and 12 yellows, as the team showed the battling qualities that their coach embodied as a player.
But what did we learn from Juventus' 4-2 win over Sampdoria? Read on!
The coach has been praised for turning around the Genoa side’s dismal form since his arrival, but his naivety was exposed here. He stuck to his 4-2-3-1 formation until half-time, despite Juve’s three-man midfield overrunning Angelo Palombo and Pedro Obiang.
He is the right man to lead Sampdoria and is undoubtedly the reason for their march up the table. The 44-year-old recognised the problem and changed as the second half got under way, but by then, it was too late.
Mihajlovic will be thankful that he doesn’t have to face the champions every week.
The Chilean midfielder scored twice, including from a penalty that he earned himself. As usual he dispatched the spot-kick with consummate ease, stroking it past visiting goalkeeper Angelo da Costa.
It was a perfectly timed strike too, sucking any sign of life from Sampdoria as they hoped to rally following Andrea Barzagli’s own goal.
Vidal was not going to be denied. He put on yet another stellar display as he took his tally to 10 league goals for the season, matching his count from 2012-13 with 18 matches still to play.
Also contributing an assist, three tackles and an interception, the 26-year-old showed just why he is so valuable to the Bianconeri.
After seeing his Bayern Munich side ease past La Madama in last season’s Champions League, the former Germany coach Franz Beckenbauer compared Gianluigi Buffon to a pensioner.
Since then, however, the Juve captain has been in imperious form, keeping countless opponents at bay. He was at it again here, with a first-half stop from Shkodran Mustafi that was among the best saves of the season thus far. He then followed it up with a stop from Eder that defied belief.
He may be 35 years old, but there are few, if any, better goalkeepers in the game today.
The Turin-born midfielder has been strongly linked to Manchester United in recent weeks, per Ben Jefferson of The Express, particularly following David Moyes’ fishing expedition in Cagliari last week.
With Paul Pogba preferred over him, he has spent longer than normal on the bench but proved here that he can play a variety of roles.
Stepping into Andrea Pirlo’s spot in the centre of Juve’s midfield, the No. 8 helped dictate the tempo of this game while also snuffing out any attacks the Sampdoria managed to muster.
Antonio Conte opted to leave out both Andrea Pirlo and Leonardo Bonucci for Juventus, but the team still ground out another victory.
Marchisio showed himself a more than able deputy, while Angelo Ogbonna did the same at the heart of the defence, stepping up to show why the club was so keen to bring him across from city rivals Torino this summer.
We can expect even more rotation against Roma in the Coppa Italia quarterfinal this week as Conte rests a few more players. No club in Serie A can compare with the depth the Bianconeri possess.
Already well on their way to a third consecutive title, the Turin giants have also spent the past few seasons collecting some talent for the future.
Manolo Gabbiadini scored, created the own goal and struck a remarkable shot off the bar in an excellent display here, and the 22-year-old is co-owned by Juventus.
The same can be said of Domenico Berardi—who scored the four goals that led Milan to sack Massimiliano Allegri—and a number of other young players around the peninsula, which is a frightening prospect for Juventus' opponents.