Juventus
    21.08.2016 12:30 - in: Match report S

    Five talking points from opening night

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    From Pipita’s stunning entrance to a man of the match showing from Kwadwo Asamoah, Juventus.com picks out five talking points from Saturday’s opener against Fiorentina
    1.Bienvenido Pipita

    Eight minutes and three touches were all Gonzalo Higuain needed to make his mark at Juventus Stadium and the sheer excitement generated among the supporters by the Argentine’s arrival onto the field was seemingly enough to swing a delicately poised encounter in the hosts’ favour.

    Remarkably Pipita’s winner – a typical poacher’s finish, smashed home from close range after Sami Khedira’s shot had been blocked – was the number 9’s seventh Serie A goal in his last four appearances and third on the bounce against Fiorentina. 

    Having opened his account unofficially during the week in Villar Perosa and introduced to the action just after the hour mark with the scores level, there was a sense that it just had to be Higuain to decide the fate of the three points.

    Speaking to the press after the game, Gonzalo said that now was his chance to repay the fans for his staggering reception since arriving in Turin and you could not imagine a better way to start doing so than to net the winner on opening day. 

    2. A winning start

    The Bianconeri were made to wait until late September to pick up their first league victory last season after defeats to Udinese and Roma and a home draw with Chievo, and there will be a sense of elation – fuelled primarily by Pipita’s epic strike -that they have managed to get off the mark immediately this time around. 

    Last night’s win was Juve’s 27th in 29 league outings and given the nature of the team’s unprecedented recovery to haul themselves back into contention and then remarkable consistency to power home to the title, a strong start to this campaign seemed the most likely outcome.

    What may well please coach Massimiliano Allegri and Bianconeri fans alike was the way the reigning champions bounced back to cancel Nikola Kalinic’s sucker-punch equaliser and ultimately prevail despite tiring visibly in the second half.

    Just as they did throughout the back end of the previous campaign, Juventus ensured they began 2016/17 with three points by sheer force of will and producing a result when it mattered.

    What is it they say about champions winning when they don’t play at their best? 

    3. ...on and off the field

    It wasn’t just on the field that the Old Lady impressed last night.

    Juventus Stadium’s matchday staff have clearly been busy themselves this summer too and the light show that welcomed Massimiliano Allegri’s men to the field was truly spectacular.

    Talk about setting the tone for the new campaign…

    4. A debut for Dani

    Two debutants made their Juventus Stadium bows yesterday and while one of them will naturally steal the headlines for obvious reasons, the other demonstrated just why he is one of the most decorated players in the history of the game in typically understated fashion. 

    We are of course speaking about Dani Alves whose first official appearance in a black and white jersey provided an intriguing glimpse of what the Brazilian can offer to the Old Lady in the coming years.

    No player on the field saw more of the ball than Alves (102 touches) and only Paulo Dybala (40) could better his 39 passes in the opposition’s half. 

    Add to that a game-high four crosses from open play, some scintillating combinations with his fellow South American down the right side and a crowd-pleasing dummy in the last minute of added time as the ball bounced into touch and the result is a very pleasing evening for the flying wing-back.

    With Dani on one side and Alex Sandro on the other, visiting sides to Juventus Stadium will struggle to contain the pace, invention and precise delivery of the two Brazilians for a full 90 minutes.  

    5. Man of the match?

    Perhaps on another day Alves’ enterprising showing would have been more than enough to merit a man of the match award yet the performances of midfielders Kwadwo Asamoah, Sami Khedira and indeed Mario Lemina may well have just pipped the number 23 to the post.

    For sheer impact, the title should go to Higuain but taking a closer look at the action, one can make compelling cases for Asamoah and Khedira, both heavily involved in Juventus’ two goals on the night. 

    Beginning with the former, Asa was at the heart of everything good about the Bianconeri, particularly in the first half, and it was his awareness and composure that teed up Giorgio Chiellini to cross for Khedira’s thumping header for the opener and defence-splitting ball to the German that presented Higuain with the chance to ram home on the rebound for the winner.

    Together with Lemina, the duo were characteristically combative in the middle of the field – nobody won more duels on the night than Asamoah (15) – and always positive in possession as their hands in the goals clearly demonstrate.

    What will have pleased the home faithful the most however was the sight of a player plagued by injuries in recent times make such a striking start to the season.

     

    Gonzalo and Dani were the debutants but Kwadwo too looked like a new signing.

    Onwards and upwards to Lazio

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