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Talking Points: Could the link-up between Mandžukić and Ronaldo be the key to Juventus' success?

Written by: Anjishnu Roy

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The pair were instrumental as the Bianconeri steamrolled AC Milan on Sunday.

Juventus FC managed to extend their undefeated start to the Serie A season with a comfortable 2-0 victory over A.C. Milan. Mario Mandzukic opened the floodgates for the Old Lady in the first half and then marquee summer signing Cristiano Ronaldo doubled it in the second.

Gonzalo Higuain had a night to forget as he missed the penalty that Milan were awarded in the first half and also saw himself sent off late in the second half.

Here are a few talking points from the match:

1. Juventus’ wide players had a great game

The two wide-backs Alex Sandro and Joao Cancelo had excellent outings tonight. They not only provided strong defensive cover and assisted their centre-backs out from behind but were also conspicuous going forward and provided a lot of offensive support stretching the play in the final third.

In fact, Alex Sandro and Joao Cancelo were both involved in both the goals. The first goal came from an Alex Sandro assist whereas in the case of the second, Ronaldo tapped home a chance that came from a Cancelo rebound shot.

2. AC Milan midfield was no match for Juventus’

Milan started with Franck Kessie and Tiemoue Bakayoko in the middle of the park and Suso and Hakan Calhanoglu out wide. None of those players were able to assert their authority in the midfield or on the game for that matter.

Miralem Pjanic and Rodrigo Bentancur rang rings around them and controlled the game well with not much pressure or intent from the Milan midfield. Bentancur especially had a strong display. Genaro Gattuso needs to identify this flaw to his players and ask more from them in that area of the pitch.



3. Chiellini was headfast and strong in defence as usual

Veteran defender Giorgio Chiellini had another fantastic display at the heart of the Juve backline. This time, he led the Bianconeri defence without Leonardo Bonucci and did a phenomenal job to partner Medhi Benatia.

Chiellini shut down Higuain who had a stinker of a game and even Castillejo found it difficult to penetrate the backline led by Chiellini. He also built plays from the back, freed up Pjanic and Bentancur to do their job sublimely with line breaking passes.


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4. Gonzalo Higuain needs to do better after such a ridiculous display

As Milan chased the game after the seventh-minute headed goal from Mandzukic, Benatia was adjudged to handle the ball after VAR intervention very late in the second half. Gonzalo Higuain stepped up to take the spot-kick but saw his effort go futile as Szcezsny produced a strong hand to deny him.

Higuain then cut an extremely forlorn and frustrated figure for most of the game, unable to get at the end of chances or link up with his teammates. All of it reached a drastic conclusion when Higuain saw himself sent off for a challenge on Benatia and dissent aimed towards the referee.

Upon seeing the red card, Gonzalo Higuain completely lost the plot and engaged in further violent disagreement with certain Juve players including his former teammate at Real Madrid, Cristiano Ronaldo.

5. Mario Mandzukic was a livewire throughout the game

Mandzukic had a great game for the Bianconeri tonight. He opened up scoring in the seventh minute as he rose high, beat Gianluigi Donnarumma to Alex Sandro’s cross and headed the ball home. The goal aside, Mandzukic was very efficient at linking up with his teammates, opening up spaces for Ronaldo and Paulo Dybala and pressing the Milan backline to win back possession. Max Allegri would have taken a lot of positives from Mandzukic’s display tonight as the Croatian had an almost flawless performance.

Published: Mon Nov 12, 2018 07:45 PM IST

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