Without Cristiano Ronaldo and Paulo Dybala, Juventus certainly lack creativity and incision in the final third, and that was evident by the way they stumbled to a 1-0 victory at home to Empoli.
The Serie A leaders began the match in conservative fashion as Empoli took the game to the Old Lady in the early stages. After a relatively lacklustre opening 20 minutes, Empoli’s Rade Krunic went close but dragged his shot wide. The first save was forced by Mario Mandzukic whose stooping header was pushed away by Bartlomiej Dragowski.
Massimiliano Allegri must have had strong words for his side at half time. Federico Bernadeschi came out firing in the second half but saw his low drive shot tipped wide. A succession of missed chances followed as Juventus were left frustrated and failed to convert.
Young prospect Moise Kean entered the fray with around 20 minutes to play, and the 19-year-old made a sensational impact by smashing home the winner after being set up by Mario Mandzukic’s header to make it 1-0.
Key Talking Point
Juventus’ relentless pursuit of the Serie A title continued against Empoli in Turin where they were rocked prior to the match by injuries to two of their key forwards.
Bianconeri were without the commanding presence of Cristiano Ronaldo, who picked up a thigh injury whilst on international duty with Portugal. To make matters worse, Paulo Dybala
Allegri has rotated his star studded squad throughout the season but his hand was forced into a formation change because of Dybala’s injury.
The Italian manager will want to ensure his side keep producing intense performances in order to hit the ground running in their Champions League quarter final first leg against Ajax.
The Bianconeri’s main priority is to win the trophy for the first time in 23 years. With the Serie A title all but wrapped up, Allegri will need to ensure his side do not become complacent.
The manager ultimately made a key decision by sending on Kean, who took just three minutes to score the winner for Juventus in a generally laboured performance for the Turin outfit.
Starting XI: Szczesny (6); Cancelo (7), Chiellini (6), Rugani (7), Alex Sandro (5); Matuidi (6), Can (7), Pjanic (7), Bentancur (6); Bernadeschi (6), Mandzukic (7)
Substitutes: Spinazzola (6), Kean (8), Caceres (N/A)
In a performance in which Juventus looked tired, lethargic and short of quality and inspiration, no Bianconeri player registered anything until Moise Kean entered the game. Fans were disappointed the youngster did not start when Dybala was injured in the warm up and no wonder why.
The striker half-volleyed an expert flick from Mario Mandzukic into the bottom left hand corner showing a natural talent in front of goal. His movement to get in behind the Empoli defence was something Juventus lacked throughout the match.
Kean followed up from his impressive debut for Italy, where he also scored, in sumptuous style. The youngster may now force his way into the starting lineup given the injuries to not only Ronaldo and Dybala, but also absentees Douglas Costa and Juan Cuadrado.
Starting XI: Dragowski (7); Di Lorenzo (6), Veseli (6), Maietta (6), Dell’ Orco (6), Pajac (5); Traore (6), Bennacer (7), Krunic (5); Farias (6), Caputo (6)
Substitutes: Ucan (5), Acquah (5), Pasqual (5)
Juventus travel to Cagliari next time out in Serie A as Allegri’s side will look to build momentum towards a big match against AC Milan