Leonardo Bonucci commented in a pre-match interview on Thursday that Juventus “should never play badly twice in a row.”
Much to the delight of the home supporters on Sunday afternoon for the visit of Lazio, the defender was absolutely right.
For, the Bianconeri took the field with the bit between their teeth right from the off as fabulous first-half strikes from Paulo Dybala, a left-footed half-volley from the edge of the penalty area, and Gonzalo Higuain, a predator’s tap-in at the near post, set up a comfortable and commanding 27th consecutive home victory.
Awash with black and white flags, Juventus Stadium offered the Bianconeri an electrifying reception ahead of kick off, aided by the presence of three-time Oscar-winning DJ and composer Giorgio Moroder, and the reigning champions more than returned the favour on the field.
With Dybala, Mario Mandzukic, Juan Cuadrado and Higuain all starting the game, Massimiliano Allegri’s 300th Serie A selection was one of his very boldest and the Tuscan was immediately rewarded.
No sooner had the home supporters taken their seats, Juve were in front and in some style. Stephan Lichtsteiner’s cross-field pass was laid off precisely by Mandzukic for Dybala to superbly sweep home on the half-volley for his fourth goal in as many home league appearances.
The visiting Lazio defence were equally as powerless to resist the Old Lady’s second clinical blow just 10 minutes later. After patient build-up in and around the Biancocelesti half, Allegri’s men suddenly burst into life. Mandzukic’s switch of play found Cuadrado in space who scurried forward and delivered for Higuain to dash across the near post and instinctively stab home to double his team’s advantage.
With a two-goal cushion, the league leaders were in no rush for force the issue as the first half drew on, waiting until a few moments before the break to almost craft a third, Bonucci flashing over the top from Higuain’s firm near-post cross.
An improved Lazio emerged from the tunnel for the second period yet it was Juventus who continued to pose the greater threat where it mattered,Dybala spurning a golden chance for his brace on 53 minutes when well-placed in a central position.
An even better one came on the hour-mark after more telepathic link-up between Argentines Paulo and Pipita, the former flicking the latter’s defence-splitting through pass wide of the far post with his weaker right foot with goalkeeper Federico Marchetti well beaten.
If the pair of South Americans were the standout stars of the first half, the second belonged to Mandzukic, the Croatian bringing the sellout Juventus Stadium crowd to its feet on countless occasions for his endlessly committed defensive work down the left-hand side.
Substitute and fellow countryman Marko Pjaca, a late replacement for Higuain, might have added the gloss to a pleasing afternoon in stoppage time when unmarked from eight yards out but it mattered little as the Old Lady cruised home to restore, at least temporarily, her four-point advantage over Roma.
Onwards and upwards.