Federico Chiesa marks his return
Thus far, we’ve noted that Juventini should take solace in Juve’s impressive early press and the stout performances of their centre-backs. However, what was perhaps most encouraging was the display of Federico Chiesa.
The Italian has been out of action since the end of November and he marked his return in typical Chiesa style. He wanted to make up for lost time on Thursday night, and there was a hint of ‘hero ball’ in the majestic winger’s performance as he sought to make an immediate impact. The carefree style that excites so many was back in full-flight. There might not be a more exhilarating experience for a supporter than when Chiesa receives the ball in space and drives at defences. He gets you off your seat, that’s for sure.
Despite his electricity, it was a frustrating opening 45 minutes for the Italian as a resilient makeshift Napoli defence reduced him to mere half-chances. However, it took just ten minutes in the second half to get on the scoresheet as his effort deflected off the brilliant Stanislav Lobotka and beyond David Ospina. Remarkably, it was just his second Serie A goal of the season.
His strike sparked a relentless spell of Juventus pressure in which he assumed the lead role. Chiesa was absolutely everywhere for a 15-minute period after scoring before he was smartly taken off in the closing stages. The Italian had run himself into the ground on his return and the fatigue that engulfed the winger ensured that Juve’s transition threat was reduced considerably. As a result, Napoli enjoyed more of the ball with Chiesa forced into deeper defensive positions.
Nevertheless, Chiesa’s display was a timely reminder of his mega talent. The Italian alone has the capacity to mask all of Juve’s flaws in the final third and that’s exactly what he did on Thursday. It was at this point last year when his 2020/21 campaign sparked into life, and following his showing against Napoli, Chiesa may well be on track for a similar resurgence in 2022.