11.03.2017 18:30 - in: Serie A S

      Five talking points from Friday night

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      From late drama to toasting another Stadium spectacle, here are our five talking points from Juventus vs. Milan
      1. Benatia breakthrough

      The fact that Medhi Benatia was making just his 10th league appearance of the season last night is perhaps one of the largest indicators of Juventus’ strength in defence.

      With injury keeping Giorgio Chiellini on the sidelines, Benatia stepped up to the mark against Milan on Friday evening to deliver an all-round performance of the highest quality.

      Paired alongside Leonardo Bonucci, the Moroccan, together with his Italian ball-playing partner was free to dictate the game from the back and the pair’s influence on their team in possession was clear to see. 

      Benatia’s 65 forward passes made him the second most prolific passer of the ball – behind Bonucci (70) – and with three interceptions and two tackles, the game’s top-ranking defender, but it was his intervention at the other end of the field that will stand out in the memory.

      Picking off a stray pass in midfield, Medhi strode into the Milan half with the confidence of a centre-midfielder before galloping into the box and finishing Dani Alves’ cross with the ruthlessness and composure of a striker to net his first goal for the club.  

      A stray back pass threatened to undo his excellent work overall late on but should take little away from what was a very promising comeback showing from Juventus’ number 4. 

      2. Dybala redemption

      There is only man you want standing over a penalty in the last seconds of added time. And while it was Paulo Dybala’s missed spot-kick in the shootout that handed Milan the Super Cup trophy in December, there was no way Juve’s striking star would be making the same mistake twice. 

      In the words of the man himself, the act of putting the ball beyond the thereto invincible Gianluigi Donnarumma was much harder than he made it look: “It wasn’t easy. The goal seems small at times like these. Plus I was up against a great keeper and I still had Doha in the back of my mind. I struck it well and knew I had scored immediately.” 

      Beginning outside the post, Paulo’s placement could not have been better. Three goals in as many games now for the Argentine who is starting to enjoy a very fruitful 2017.

      Diamond Dani

      Dani Alves was brought to Turin from Barcelona to be decisive in the key moments, lend his own staggering experience to a squad already accustomed to winning and provide added flair on the ball down the right side.

      And, deployed further forward down the wing, the Brazilian veteran did all of the above and more on Friday night against the Rossoneri.

      Vaunted for his attacking instincts and penchant for delivering a killer cross from the dead-ball line, Alves’ quality shone through in the absence of Juan Cuadrado, delivering a truly superb assist for the game’s opening goal.

      There is a great unpredictability to the Bianconeri's play when both or either of Cuadrado and Alves feature down the right – both capable of producing the truly unexpected – and Dani’s delicate dink over a motionless Milan defence to set up Benatia was the standout moment of class on the night, the heroics of Donnarumma aside.

      Clinical in Porto two and a half weeks ago and a creative force here against Milan, you won’t find many better big game players than the unorthodox South American. 

      4. Stunning stadium show

      Supporters were treated to more than 90 minutes of entertainment at Juventus Stadium yesterday evening, not least because of the timing of Dybala’s match-winning penalty.

      For, kicking off proceedings at the home of the champions, was a spectacular light show which set the tone for the evening’s action in quite some style.

      The Bianconeri are closing in on an unprecedented sixth consecutive Scudetto title by taking each game as it comes but that doesn’t mean we can’t keep one eye on the future at the same time…

      5. Buffon: best still to come

      Friday’s frantic affair saw Gianluigi Buffon made his 613th Serie A appearance, taking the Juve skipper above Francesco Totti into third place in the Italian top-flight’s all-time rankings. 

      Buffon, the quieter of the two Gianluigis over the 90 minutes, now stands just two behind Javier Zanetti in second and 34 short of Milan’s Paolo Maldini on 647.

      As the big man said himself, the best is still yet to come. 

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