Substitutes make a difference
Max Allegri was forced into a change at half-time with Weston McKennie replacing Adrien Rabiot. I thought the Frenchman was okay in the first half, but Allegri didn’t see it that way. After the game, he said Rabiot would’ve come off even if he hadn’t picked up an ankle sprain.
Despite Rabiot’s competence, McKennie added a spark of dynamism to Juve’s midfield that was lacking in the opening period. The American certainly hasn’t lost a step since returning from a knee injury and his dynamic nature was laid bare on Tuesday night. He persistently sought to create positional superiorities over Cagliari’s midfield between the lines and he received the joint-third most progressive passes on the Juve team (five) despite playing just 45 minutes.
There were times where he looked like a Mousa Dembele clone as he sought to beat players one-vs-one. He completed all four of his attempted dribbles, although this good work in this regard didn’t translate to the final third. McKennie’s low pass completion was due to persistent breakdowns in the final phase. Often, teammates weren’t quite on the same page as the American, who tried his utmost to pick a lock in the Cagliari defence via intricacy in and around the box.
While McKennie added a spark, fellow substitute Dejan Kulusevski helped Juventus close out Tuesday’s contest. It was a lovely sequence from the Swede, who cut out Zappa’s crossfield pass before taking Andrea Carboni out of the contest with a sumptuous first touch. Green grass laid ahead of him with options arriving from all angles. He chose wisely, and Bernardeschi did the rest.
The assist and the sequence that preceded it was just another example of Kulusevski teasing his talent. It’s about time we saw it regularly. Hopefully, it isn’t his final notable contribution in Bianconeri colours with the January transfer window looming.
There’s a player in there, Allegri just needs to pick the lock to reap the rewards.