Having already secured their fifth consecutive Serie A title, Juventus had little on the line as they welcomed Carpi to Turin on Sunday. They eventually emerged as 2-0 winners, ensuring—with just two rounds of the 2015/16 campaign remaining—that their opponents remained entrenched in the relegation battle.
However, victory for the Bianconeri extended their own incredible run of form, and head coach Massimiliano Allegri's men have now triumphed in all but one of their last 26 league outings.
That streak extends back to October last year, but the Juve boss was nevertheless pleased to see his side retain their hunger as they await the Coppa Italia final against AC Milan later this month.
“I'm pleased with the win and especially the clean sheet,” Allegri told reporters at his post-match press conference. “Given we'd already wrapped up the league, it wasn't easy to keep up our usual level of intensity.”
One player who did just that was striker Simone Zaza, who was introduced as a half-time substitute for the struggling Alvaro Morata. The Italy international delivered a superb 45-minute display, ensuring the visitors found no way back as he bagged the all-important second goal for La Vecchia Signora.
Lega Serie A @SerieAchannel
#Zaza!!!!!!!! #Juve double up, Simone with his 5th of the season. 2-0 | 81' #JuveCarpi #cruisecontrol https://t.co/dSHr7NV1g12016-5-1 12:14:05
Holding off Carpi defender Simone Romagnoli to finish a neat cross from Paul Pogba—who registered his career-high 12th assist of the season—Zaza took his goal tally for the campaign to eight in all competitions.
That return may appear modest, but the 24-year-old has managed that contribution despite limited playing time that has seen him earn just four league starts over the course of the current season.
Adam Digby @Adz77
Simone Zaza vs Carpi: 3 shots, 1 goal, 7/10 passes, 2 tackles, 1 int, 1 clearance (via @StatsZone) https://t.co/Dy6TKSfuNN2016-5-1 21:47:45
Clearly behind Paulo Dybala, Morata and Mario Mandzukic, Zaza used his second-half cameo against Carpi to show Allegri just what he can do, with the graphic in the tweet above—courtesy of FourFourTwo StatsZone—highlighting just what he brought to the side.
Taking three shots, the former Sassuolo striker also connected with seven of his 10 pass attempts (70 percent) and won two of the three aerial duels he contested. His relentless energy also troubled the Carpi defence, with his effort when not in possession arguably outweighing his attack contribution.
Making two tackles, one interception and one clearance, Zaza ensured that the minnows never troubled Juventus and speaking to Mediaset Premium (h/t Juventus.com) shortly after the final whistle, he said he was “looking to take full advantage of every chance that comes my way.”
It was an impressive display, and one that may serve to heighten the transfer speculation surrounding the Policoro native whom Tuttosport (h/t Football Italia) recently identified as a target for the likes of AS Roma, Chelsea and AC Milan.
Indeed, in that aforementioned post-match interview, Zaza was content with his personal contribution and was happy to put the team's collective success before his own efforts:
I’ve no regrets this season as I’ve always given my all whenever called upon by the coach. I’m satisfied with the fact that we’ve won the league and reached the Coppa Italia final and I’d be doubly pleased if we were to end the campaign with yet another trophy to celebrate.
The club is—as director general Beppe Marotta admitted to Mediaset Premium (h/t Football Italia) prior to the clash with Carpi—certainly "looking at the market to seek opportunities" but would do well to hold onto Sunday's goalscorer.
If they can convince him to remain in a similar role next term, Zaza has already shown Italian football's grand Old Lady that he is a man to rely on when she needs him as a more-than-adequate reserve for her first-choice strikers.