Juventus started their defence of the Serie A title with a trademark victory over Parma at Stadio Ennio Tardini on Saturday night.
The defending champions took the lead in the 21st minute as Giorgio Chiellini prodded home Alex Sandro’s mishit shot, the ball passing stranded Parma goalkeeper Luigi Sepe into the net.
Cristiano Ronaldo had a clinical finish chalked off by the Video Assistant Referee shortly after, the Portugal international deemed offside in a very tight call.
Key Talking Point
The upcoming title defence may prove to be Juve’s trickiest in recent years.
Napoli’s signing of PSV attacker Hirving Lozano may take Carlo Ancelotti’s side to another level, while Inter have also been proactive in bringing in Romelu Lukaku from Manchester United.
In Maurizio Sarri they have a manager who knows the league well, but last season’s Europa League is his sole major triumph. Both Ancelotti and Antonio Conte are proven league winners, meaning this season could be one of the most exciting Serie A campaigns in recent memory.
Thankfully for Sarri, who wasn’t on the touchline on Saturday as he continues his recovery from pneumonia, Juve were able to put in a classic Juve performance, taking their chances up front while Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci remained vigilant at the back.
Starting XI: Szczesny (6); De Sciglio (7), Bonucci (7), Chiellini (7), Sandro (7); Khedira (6), Pjanic (8), Matuidi (6); Costa (7), Higuain (7), Ronaldo (6).
Substitutes: Rabiot (6), Cuadrado (6), Bernardeschi (6)
STAR PLAYER – The metronome in Juve’s midfield, Miralem Pjanic dictated play with ease and broke up Parma’s attacks when needed.
It’s a big season for the former Roma midfielder. He faces added competition for a starting XI spot from new signings Aaron Ramsey and Adrien Rabiot, the latter of whom made his debut on Saturday, as well as other squad members Sami Khedira, Blaise Matuidi, Emre Can and Rodrigo Bentancur.
Nailing down a regular starting spot will be tricky, but Pjanic asserted himself well against Parma and his place looks pretty assured for the next couple of weeks.
Juve have the small matter of a home tie with Napoli next Saturday in one of Serie A season’s early match-ups between two of the biggest sides in the league to look forward to. Parma make the trip to Udinese the day after.