Juventus scraped to a narrow 0-1 victory away to Bologna on Sunday courtesy of a Paulo Dybala strike to increase the Bianconeri's lead at the top of the Serie A table.
Both sides had a presentable chance apiece in what was a frustrating opening half an hour for Juventus at the Stadio Renato Dall'Ara. Federico Santander and Federico Bernarderschi were unable to convert their chances for their respective teams, as a drab first half ended goalless.
Bologna continued to stand toe-to-toe with the champions in the second half and the visitors were lucky to survive a goalmouth scramble in the early stages, as Alex Sandro reacted well to block a goal-bound effort from Ibrahima Mbaye following a corner.
The Bianconeri finally took the lead after the hour mark, as Blaise Matuidi played a seemingly harmless ball into the home side's penalty area which Bologna's defence made a mess of clearing away, playing it straight to substitute Paulo Dybala who made no mistake from close in.
Juventus struggled to create any further clear chances after taking the lead but held firm to see out the victory which will come as some relief at the end of a difficult week for Massimiliano Allegri's side.
Starting XI: Skorupski (5); Mbaye (7), Danilo (6), Helander (6), Dijks (6); Soriano (6), Pulgar (6), Poli (6); Edera (6), Santander (7), Sansone (6)
Substitutes: Orsolini (6), Donsah (5), Falcinelli (85)
Key Talking Point
Massimiliano Allegri fielded a heavily rotated Juventus side following the Bianconeri's 2-0 defeat away to Atletico Madrid in the Champions League on Wednesday, with key players such as Girogio Chiellini, Miralem Pjanic and Paulo Dybala all dropping to the bench.
It was testament to the Juve's strength in depth that the likes of Daniele Rugani, Federico Bernarderschi and Joao Cancelo were among the players to be drafted in for those that were rested. However, the changes provided a disruption which made it difficult for Juventus to find their usual rhythm. Allegri's side suffered from an unusual lack of control over proceedings.
#Juventus looking all over the place at the moment— annamarie meadows (@annamarie4679) 24 February 2019
The Italian champions missed the influence of Pjanic pulling the strings from his usual midfield base, whilst the absence of Dybala's roaming presence in behind the frontline often left Juve's attack rather detached from midfield, amid an overall lack of fluidity throughout the side.
Cristiano Ronaldo was generally anonymous in the game, falling victim in part to Juve's lack of fluidity, though the Portuguese did little to take the game by the scruff of the neck and inspire his side. It wasn't until Dybala's introduction from the bench that the visitors truly threatened in attack.
Juventus face a huge top-of-the-table clash next time out in Serie A as they travel to face Napoli at the Stadio San Paolo. With Carlo Ancelotti's side currently second behind Juve in the league table, the Bianconeri will know that victory would be a significant step towards retaining the title.