Juventus squeaked out another victory on Sunday evening as Alvaro Morata’s early opener was enough to beat Thiago Motta’s Spezia.
The Bianconeri promised so much in this one as they impressed in the first half before Massimiliano Allegri imposed a ban on attacking after the break as the hosts went about preserving their advantage.
They were able to do so… just.
It certainly wasn’t pretty, but such aesthetic deficiencies are expected of any Allegri-coached side. Juve got the job done on Sunday to perpetuate their impressive unbeaten run in Serie A.
3 takeaways from Juventus’ 1-0 victory over Spezia
Talk of a late title challenge is intensifying outside of Turin, and here are three takeaways from Juventus’ latest victory.
Game of two halves
Despite the absences of key stars, including Paulo Dybala, Massimiliano Allegri’s starting XI gave supporters hope of a more dynamic and proactive performance.
Such proactivity was on full display in the first half as Juventus took total control. The hosts’ possession play was coherent in an aggressive 3-1-4-2 structure that facilitated width, depth and progressive options. As a result of their sound structure, Juve were able to manipulate Spezia’s 4-4-2 block with ease.
The visitors initially lacked the requisite pressure off the ball to disrupt a vulnerable Bianconeri, and they couldn’t contain the shrewd movement of goalscorer Morata. The Spaniard constantly dropped off the forward line to overload Spezia’s midfield in the second phase and he was so often the spare man. Morata’s ten progressive receptions were a joint-team high.
Juve’s first-half superiority can be summated by their xG haul in comparison to the opposition. While the Bianconeri notched a respectable 0.88, Spezia mustered a meagre 0.01.
However, the shift was almost immediate in the second half as Allegri and Juve changed tack. The Bianconeri, who played with so much freedom in the opening period, rapidly became intent on preserving their advantage as opposed to adding to it. As a result, their performance in possession became more confused which allowed the visitors to smell blood.
In the end, Juve were rather fortunate to snatch all three points as Spezia missed two great opportunities to equalise. Between the 46th and 89th minutes, Juve’s xG was just 0.23, while Spezia’s was 0.91.
On another day, we’re lamenting Allegri’s conservatism following a disappointing draw. But, the luck seems to be with the wily veteran right now and he appears intent on winning ugly as opposed to with any sort of gusto.
He’s the antithesis of the modern football manager but, for now, he’s just about getting away with it.