22.09.2016 11:30 - in: Serie A S

      Five talking points from a winning Wednesday

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      Maiden Juventus goals for Daniele Rugani and Dani Alves top the list of talking points from Wednesday’s win over Cagliari at Juventus Stadium
      1. Double Dani

      A constantly improving performer in his debut season with Juventus, Daniele Rugani was deservedly called up for a first appearance of 2016/17 on Wednesday night against Cagliari and there can be no doubt that the young centre-back seized this latest opportunity to prove himself with both hands.

      Despite having perhaps less to do than usual in defence, the 22-year-old continued to show the sort of composure that belies his tender age and that enabled him to become a key player during the run-in of the history-making 2015/16 campaign.

      This time, Rugani capped off another fine defensive showing with a well-taken goal – his first in the black and white – which got the Bianconeri up and running on the night from just the 14th minute.

      Given Juve’s rearguard reinforcements over the summer, there’s no shortage of competition for places at the back, but with performances like last night’s there’s little doubt that Rugani will continue to be a very important component of Massimiliano Allegri’s side for many years to come.

      There would be another Dani making his mark on Wednesday, as Dani Alves also celebrated his maiden Juventus goal since joining from Barcelona in the summer – and what a strike it was too!

      Rushing on to a bouncing ball from all of 25 yards out, the Brazilian could not have made a sweeter connection, rifling into the bottom corner and leaving former Bianconeri keeper Marco Storari with virtually no chance of stopping the hosts post a 3-0 scoreline by the break.

      A lively presence as ever down Juve’s right, supporters will be licking their lips at the prospect of watching the dynamic duo of Alves, who made a match-high 98 passes, and compatriot Alex Sandro, who put in another sterling display along the left flank against Cagliari, roaming down the wings over the course of the campaign.

      2. Pipita strikes again

      216 minutes. Four goals. Gonzalo Higuain’s rich vein of form continued against Cagliari, as he shows just why Juventus made him their club-record signing in July.

      Last night’s may not have been as spectacular as his two strikes against Sassuolo or as critical as his match-winner against Fiorentina, but Pipita’s latest goal put the Bianconeri well and truly in command at Juventus Stadium, which is incidentally where he has found the net on all four occasions.

      With a run of three games away from home about to begin with Palermo, Dinamo Zagreb and Empoli, don’t be surprised if Higuain makes his mark soon on his travels too.

      3. Top of the tree

      Crucially, Wednesday’s win saw Juventus regain top spot in Serie A, with previous pace-setters Napoli drawing away to Genoa on the night.

      The Bianconeri had been first following their 3-1 victory over Sassuolo earlier in the month before being knocked off the summit temporarily with last Sunday’s reverse at the hands of Inter.

      Having managed to get that disappointing result and all-round display at the San Siro out of their systems at the first time of asking, Allegri and company will now look to build up a head of steam in the league over the coming weeks.

      4. A welcome clean sheet

      Juventus had only managed to keep one blank in the league prior to last night’s match – away to Lazio in August – so a clean sheet against Cagliari was extremely welcome, as the Bianconeri look to rediscover the rock-solid defensive form that has characterised their history-making exploits of the last five years.

      If truth be told, Allegri’s men rarely looked like letting the Rossoblù in with a sniff of goal. Indeed, the visitors failed to muster a single shot on target, with Gianluigi Buffon and Neto mainly spectators throughout the evening.

      5. Midfield means business

      If Juventus never really looked in danger of conceding, then the performances in midfield certainly merit recognition, as indeed they have across the club’s Twitter and Facebook profiles.

      From Miralem Pjanic’s creativity and pinpoint distribution – not least his intelligently placed corner kick from which Dani Alves scored – to Mario Lemina’s energy and busy box-to-box display, the Bianconeri always looked in control of matters in the middle of the park.

      Playing no small part in all of this too was no other than Hernanes. Deployed as the deepest midfielder of the three, the Brazilian topped the charts for passing accuracy (92.9 per cent) and also tackles (five) on the night.

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