28.08.2016 17:00 - in: Serie A S

      Five talking points from the capital

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      From Sami Khedira’s scoring touch to a man of the match display by debutant Medhi Benatia, Juventus.com picks out five talking points from Saturday’s win over Lazio at Rome’s Stadio Olimpico
      1. Sami’s scoring touch

      Sami Khedira simply can’t stay off the scoresheet at present! The midfielder’s match-winner against Lazio was his second strike in as many matches this season and he has now netted four times in his last six Serie A appearances.

      Sami isn’t just tapping them in from close-range either. Both of his finishes this term have been of the highest order, getting wonderful power and precision on his opening day header against Fiorentina as well as his low drive into the bottom corner away to Lazio on Saturday.

      Furthermore, whenever the Germany international is on the mark – or indeed when he’s merely on the pitch – the omens are literally always on the Bianconeri’s side. Juventus have won all seven matches in which Sami has scored, while they’ve also triumphed 21 times in the 22 top-tier fixtures when he has featured, drawing the other.

      Here’s to hoping that such form and fortune will continue as far as Khedira and Juventus are concerned.

      2. Benatia’s brilliant bow

      The fact that Juventus could have Medhi Benatia on the bench on the opening day against Fiorentina is a genuine sign of the sheer strength in depth they boast in defence this season.

      In the absence of Leonardo Bonucci on Saturday, Medhi more than stood up to the test at the Stadio Olimpico in what was a spectacularly positive maiden appearance in the black and white stripes.

      The Morocco international played an integral role in the Bianconeri keeping a clean sheet in the capital, winning back possession a match-high 11 times, whilst also making more interceptions than any other player on the pitch (seven). The towering defender also used his obvious physical prowess to fine use on several occasions to thwart Lazio’s forwards, including a last-ditch clearance in the first half when Felipe Anderson’s menacing cross threatened to find Ciro Immobile at the far post.

      So outstanding was Benatia’s overall performance in Rome – incidentally the city in which he had previously played his football for the Giallorossi before moving to Bayern Munich and now Juventus – fans on the Old Lady’s English language Twitter and Facebook profiles unanimously voted him man of the match.

      Nice one, Medhi!

      3. Marko makes his mark

      Benatia wasn’t the only player to impress on his Bianconeri debut on Saturday. Even if he only featured for five minutes (three of which in injury time) upon replacing Paulo Dybala, Marko Pjaca’s late cameo appearance in the capital was still enough to show glittering glimpses of what the talented 21-year-old is capable of.

      The Croatia international’s pace, powerful running and mazy dribbling provided the perfect outlet for the Bianconeri to put their hosts on the back foot as full-time approached, thus reducing the risk of Lazio being able to launch any potentially dangerous counter-attacks at the death.

      Having proved a particularly effective attacking option already, supporters will doubtless be excited to see Marko in action again, whether as a super sub or in the starting XI, as and when Massimiliano Allegri opts to deploy the wing wizard from the off.

      4. Dybala’s deadly delivery

      It was only a matter of time before Paulo Dybala would make a key contribution this season and yesterday it came… in crucial circumstances as well.

      With the Bianconeri probing the final third for a match-winner that Lazio’s well-organised ranks had done their utmost to prevent up until the 66th minute, it was clear that something fairly special would be required to finally break the deadlock.

      Arguably their liveliest man in the first half, Dybala it was to provide the daintily dinked, defence-splitting delivery into Khedira’s feet and the rest is history.

      Don’t be surprised to see many more telling touches from La Joya over the course of the campaign.

      5. A crucial clean sheet

      Perhaps the next most important thing after collecting all three points was keeping a clean sheet on Saturday. This was the Bianconeri’s first shut-out of their budding Serie A campaign and only their second over the course of the entire summer, having conceded in every pre-season friendly except for their 2-0 win over the Primavera at Villar Perosa.

      Juventus have long prided themselves on backline brilliance and all associated with the club will no doubt have been pleased with yesterday’s evidence that last term’s strongest defence in Italy looks to be getting back to its uncompromising best.

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