Juventus defeated Brescia 2-1 on Tuesday night, coming away with all three points despite a relatively flat performance at Stadio Mario Rigamonti.
Brescia were energetic from the off and took a surprise lead through Alfredo Donnarumma's fourth-minute rocket. An off-guard Wojciech Szczesny should have done better, despite the ball's slight movement in the air.
Juventus were lifeless in the first half but given a lifeline through another moment of poor goalkeeping - this time from Brescia's Jesse Joronen. The goalkeeper failed to connect with Paulo Dybala's 40th minute corner, his punch flicking off Jhon Chancellor and into the net to make it 1-1 at half time.
On a night when victory would see them leapfrog Inter to top the Serie A table, the Old Lady were worryingly flat in the opening 45 minutes. They upped the tempo in the second half and Miralem Pjanic put them ahead on 63 minutes, catching the rebound from Dybala's blocked free kick sweetly.
Both sides had chances in the final half an hour, with the Brescia faithful driving their team on from the stands. As is often a sign of title-winning team, Juventus were able to dig in and head back to Turin with all three points.
Here's 90min's breakdown of the game below.
Starting XI: Joronen (6); Sabelli (6), Cistana (6), Chancellor (7), Mateju (5); Bisoli (6), Tonali (8*), Orestes Caldeira (6), Dessena (7); Balotelli (7), Donnarumma (7)
Substitutes: Matri (6), Martella, (5), Aye (5)
Key Talking Point
Maurizio Sarri opted for a midfield diamond in his absence, with Aaron Ramsey operating just behind Paulo Dybala and Gonzalo Higuain. The system's lack of width played into a narrow Brescia's hands, with lots of Juventus' first-half attacking play coming through a congested central area.
The signs should have been there for Sarri, as the 19th minute introduction of Juan Cuadrado highlighted just how much space Juventus were being afforded in the wide areas. The Colombian replaced the injured Danilo at right back, finding himself in acres of space as he marauded forward.
Really can’t stress how versatile of a player Cuadrado is.— Francesco (@JuveThoughts) September 24, 2019
Some fans wanted to sell him but now that Douglas Costa and nearly all fullbacks are injured he is more valuable than ever.
He can be used in both the defense and the attack. pic.twitter.com/3F8VL7DGuM
Sarri is known for his stubbornness and there was no plan B on the night, they simply persisted to drive towards the centre of Brescia's defence. Their quality got them over the line but against a better team, such inability to change the shape during the 90 minutes could cost Juventus.
Starting XI: Szczesny (5); Danilo (5), de Ligt (6), Bonucci (7), Alex Sandro (6); Pjanic (7), Khedira (6), Rabiot (6), Ramsey (8); Higuaín (7), Dybala (9*)
Substitutes: Cuadrado (7), Bernardeschi (6), Matuidi (5)
The congestion in the middle of the pitch might have highlighted Sarri's tactical stubbornness, but it also put a spotlight on Paulo Dybala's intelligence.
With his flair, trickery and ability to find space at all times, he was like an A-list actor supported by a distinctly B-list cast. Juventus only looked like scoring when the Argentine maestro was pulling the strings - although Aaron Ramsey would have been a shoo-in for best supporting role.
Dybala’s ball control — Omar Magdy (@Omarelpiero) September 24, 2019
@PauDybala_JR by far our best player tonight, absolutely incredible ✊— MR (@Juventeis) September 24, 2019
He won and took the corner that led to the equaliser and did exactly the same for the free kick, albeit it was blocked by the wall before Pjanic converted. On another night he would have grabbed another assist, but the Adrien Rabiot shot that resulted from his driving run and cross was brilliantly blocked by Chancellor.
The only negative note was Dybala's withdrawal with ten minutes to go, after it appeared he was struggling with cramp. Juventus fans will be hopeful it's nothing more, especially with some big games on the horizon.
Juventus face SPAL at home before a potential top of the table clash away to Inter. Sandwiched between these Serie A matches is Bayer Leverkusen's visit to the Allianz Stadium in the Champions League group stage.
It doesn't get any easier for Brescia, an away day at Napoli awaits before home fixtures with Sassuolo and Fiorentina.