Juventus earned yet another gritty win as a trademark Cristiano Ronaldo header just before half-time proved to be the winner against Sampdoria, sending I Bianconeri top of Serie A.
After a slow start, Maurizio Sarri’s men quickly found their groove and took a 1-0 lead through Paulo Dybala – the Argentine finishing quite wonderfully with a left-footed volley from a deep cross by left-back Alex Sandro.
The visitors began to dominate
A second yellow card for Sampdoria goalscorer Caprari added insult to injury for Ranieri, as his side succumbed to a 2-1 defeat after the visitors had managed the latter stages superbly.
Starting XI: Audero (6); Murillo (5), Ferrari (5), Colley (6), Murru (7); Depaoli (6), Thorsby (7), Linetty (6), Jankto (5); Ramirez (6), Caprari (5).
Subs: Leris (5), Gabbiadini (6), Augello (6).
Key Talking Point
After their dominant display against Udinese on the weekend, Sarri opted to use Dybala, Ronaldo and Gonzalo Higuain as the most advanced of the trio once more in a bid to break down inferior opposition.
And in the first half, it worked a treat. Dybala proved himself to be the heartbeat of his side as he kept the Old Lady ticking over – scoring an absolute beauty in the process – while Ronaldo looked confident after his brace on Sunday. Sarri’s side were quick, fluid and ultimately dominant in the first half and took a 2-1 lead into the break.
In the second period, they were certainly sloppier in possession as their chief creators’ influence on proceedings started to dwindle. Adrien Rabiot, mind, did a brilliant job in the middle of the park – on and off the ball.
Sarri will also be pleased with his side’s resilience at the back in the second half. After a shaky start, Leonardo Bonucci and Merih Demiral settled down nicely, preventing the home side from having a sniff from open play.
Nevertheless, it was a crucial win for the Old Lady, who’ve now put the pressure on Inter ahead of their home game against Genoa on Saturday.
Starting XI: Buffon (6); Danilo (5), Bonucci (7), Demiral (6), A.Sandro (7); Pjanic (6), Matuidi (6), Rabiot (8); Dybala (8*); Ronaldo (7), Higuain (6).
Subs: Ramsey (7), Costa (5), De Sciglio (6).
Paulo Dybala’s renaissance under Sarri continued on Wednesday night as he was influential at
Safe to say Paulo Dybala has always been a bit inconsistent, rarely been used in his best position, and never lived up to his full potential.
This season, however, seems different.
CR7 will probably kick on into top gear at some point, but right now Juventus is Dybala’s team.
— EiF (@EiFSoccer) December 18, 2019
Juventus is Dybala’s team. What a goal, what a player.
— TBG (@PhilosophyTBG) December 18, 2019
The winter break means that Sampdoria are now done for the decade. When they return to Serie A
Juve, meanwhile, take on Lazio in the Supercoppa Italiana final on Sunday before the Christmas break.