Lazio vs. Juventus: 6 Things We Learned
Juventus came from behind to claim a point in a closely fought encounter in Rome on Saturday.
Fernando Llorente's wonderful header cancelled out Antonio Candreva's penalty, after Gianluigi Buffon was sent off for fouling Miroslav Klose in the penalty area.
Lazio could not make the extra man tell, though, and Juve managed to come back into matters, even pushing for a victory in an engrossing second half.
Juve's 12-match run of wins has come to an end, but a point may be seen as a good result, given the circumstances.
Here are six things we learned from Saturday's clash at the Olimpico.
Ogbonna Looked Much More Composed Than Caceres in Defence
It was almost a performance that clinched Conte's belief that the former Granata defender will be the first-choice back-up from now on.
Ogbonna reads the game superbly, and he never looked flustered against Lazio, interchanging with Leonardo Bonucci and Andrea Barzagli for a largely confident display.
It follows 90 minutes against Samp and a 45 substitute appearance against Roma after Giorgio Chiellini came off injured.
Ogbonna will now hope he has done enough to prompt Conte into considering a move toward a back four, which would enable the Mister to accommodate him on a regular basis.
Candreva Close to Cementing Place in Azzurri XI
Antonio Candreva appears to be close to not only guaranteeing himself a ticket to Brazil this summer as part of Italy's World Cup squad, but also winning a starting place for the Azzurri.
The Lazio wide man put in a tremendously energetic display against the champions, which will have been duly noted by Cesare Prandelli.
His energy to stretch opposition in transition, as well as his hard work to hold up the opposition when his side to not have the ball, is to be lauded.
The calmness in which he dispatched the penalty was impressive, too.
Candreva will hope that new manager Edy Reja continues to give him the freedom to shine in this role.
Llorente Starting to Justify Debate over Who Is Juve's Most Important Striker
Llorente scores in big games, that much is evident from his time with Juventus thus far.
The Spanish centre-forward now has 11 goals in all competitions, one less than Carlos Tevez, so who is the more important forward for Juventus?
Well, Tevez's glaring absence in Juve's Champions League campaign does him no favours, failing to score even once.
But his industry and ability to drop deep and release Juve's midfielders is something that Conte greatly appreciates.
It's a close-run thing, though, and if Llorente continues as he has done over the past few months, we can expect him to be starting even when Conte experiments more often with a 4-3-3 formation.
Lazio Have a Gem in Keita
Lazio must be especially excited about the future of Balde Keita.
The Spanish wide player put in a superb cameo against the champions to raise the tempo of his side.
The left-winger was able to cause Juve plenty of trouble on the break with his searing pace and almost scored with a curling effort that hit the post.
Keita has a trick to go with his athleticism, and Edy Reja may be tempted to accommodate him into the starting line-up permanently before too long.
Lazio Would Be Loath to Lose Klose This Summer
Lazio should do everything within their power to stop Klose leaving the capital this summer.
The German striker's contract is up and he will have plenty of options, but the Biancocelesti will be keen to tie him down to a new deal.
His movement, in and around the box, keeps defenders occupied and often leaves space on the edge of the area for the likes of Candreva and Hernanes to cause damage.
For a smaller type of striker, Klose's presence in the area is sufficient for Lazio to get the ball wide and swing crosses into the area, too.
All of this makes him the perfect striker for a counter-attacking formation that Reja is deploying, meaning that it will be tough to replace his assets and his goals with just one player.
Storari Proved to Be a Superb Deputy to the Great Gigi
Marco Storari came on for Kwadwo Asamoah to replace the red-carded Gianluigi Buffon, and he did not let the Bianconeri down.
Storari was solid and commanding in his area, and he also pulled off some stunning saves.
In particular, to deny Klose from close range was very special, palming a point-blank header on to the bar.
Storari could be seen as one of the main reasons that Juve escaped Rome with a point, actually.
With Buffon set to miss the Derby d'Italia next week, Storari will be a great back-up option.
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