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Patrice Evra Excellent but Juan Cuadrado Disappoints as Juventus Defeat as Roma

TURIN, ITALY - JANUARY 24:  Patrice Evra of Juventus FC in action during the Serie A match between Juventus FC and AS Roma at Juventus Arena on January 24, 2016 in Turin, Italy.  (Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images)
Marco Luzzani/Getty Images
Adam DigbyFeatured ColumnistJanuary 25, 2016

“It’s certainly a fundamental game and we must continue our winning streak,” Paulo Dybala told Sky Sport Italia just before Juventus’ match against AS Roma began (h/t Football Italia).

The striker was clearly aware of the significance of the fixture, pitting two of this season’s Serie A title rivals against one another in Turin.

He would ultimately settle the tie with a well-taken second-half goal, handing opposition coach Luciano Spalletti the first defeat of his new tenure and helping the Bianconeri gain some revenge for their loss to the side from the Italian capital back in August.

The home team’s 11th consecutive victory means they remain just two points behind league leaders Napoli, while the 1-0 final scoreline saw goalkeeper Gigi Buffon earn his 13th clean sheet in all competitions.

Dybala has now scored 14 goals in 2015/16 and further cemented his place as Juve’s most decisive forward. However, despite boss Massimiliano Allegri praising the former Palermo man after the final whistle, the coach is confident that there is even more to come from the 22-year-old if he works on certain skills.

Dybala produced another great performance after a quiet first 20 minutes for him. When the game looked tight and deadlocked, he still pulled out a wonderful goal,” Allegri said at his post-match press conference.

“He could always improve with his right foot, occupying defences more with his movement and upping the tempo of our play when we need it.”

That was something the Bianconeri clearly lacked against AS Roma, as they struggled to create any real threat despite statistics courtesy of WhoScored.com showing they enjoyed 55.8 percent of possession.

In a tough contest, some key decisions would eventually decide the result and perhaps Allegri’s choice of Patrice Evra in place of the in-form Alex Sandro was chief among them. The Brazilian had been a key figure in recent weeks, scoring his first goal for the club last weekend against Udinese after a string of excellent performances.

Yet he dropped to the bench on Sunday night in favour of his French team-mate, and Evra would deliver a consummate display of his own, completely nullifying Roma’s right flank and ensuring Mohamed Salah had little impact upon the game.

Marking the Egyptian winger diligently throughout, the graphic in the tweet below highlights the contribution of the Juventus left-back as he won two tackles and an aerial dual, also adding two interceptions and one blocked cross.

He also completed 40 of his 43 pass attempts (93 percent) and recovered the ball on no fewer than six occasions, including once when the ball subsequently broke to Paul Pogba, who in turn picked out Dybala for the only goal of the game.

Yet while Evra was clearly superb, Juventus did miss the attacking impetus Sandro can provide, and a disappointing substitute appearance from Juan Cuadrado did not help in that regard.

Sent on by Allegri in the 65th minute when the score was still 0-0, the Chelsea loanee did little to break the deadlock despite numerous opportunities.

TURIN, ITALY - JANUARY 24:  Juan Cuadrado (L) of Juventus FC competes with Lucas Digne of AS Roma during the Serie A match between Juventus FC and AS Roma at Juventus Arena on January 24, 2016 in Turin, Italy.  (Photo by Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images)
Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images

According to WhoScored, the Colombian was given the ball an impressive 25 times, managing two completed dribbles and one shot but failing to create any scoring opportunities. Sadly, he was arguably less effective going forward than Stephan Lichtsteiner, the much more defensively minded man he replaced.

Juventus will need more from Cuadrado in the coming weeks as they face difficult matches against Inter Milan, Napoli and Bayern Munich, but Paul Pogba told Mediaset Premium (h/t Football Italia) that is true of the entire squad.

The midfielder said that his side “are doing much better, but we are still nobody, we’ve achieved nothing, we are not top of the table and therefore we must continue like this.”

Indeed, as reigning champions, they must look to defend their title and progress in both the Coppa Italia and Europe.

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