Juventus pushed aside their pain and played with professionalism and ambition to defeat Sampdoria 3-0 and widen the gap at the top of the table to take them one step closer to another league title.
It was a game in which many were eager to see how well Juve would recover after their midweek loss to Real Madrid, especially as Sampdoria were the last team to have beaten the Bianconeri in Serie A.
Starting the match well, with energy and ambition, Sampdoria tried to create opportunities while Juve struggled offensively, proving predictable in their play. However, Miralem Pjanic’s injury proved to be a blessing in disguise, allowing the growing Douglas Costa to come on earlier than planned and immediately make an impact.
His movement, speed and accuracy changed the face of the game, as he delivered three assists to secure all three points and help Juve keep moving forward.
Positives: Douglas Costa had struggled to provide incisive play at the start of the season but in recent weeks he has proved to be the difference maker and the star running the show. Having seemingly adapted to Juve’s patterns of play, he is now executing quicker, utilising his pace well and no longer taking time to raise his head to look for a good solution — he delivers it almost immediately. Showing off his vision, his intellect and ability to spot a space to exploit and run into, he provided the assists for all three of Juve’s goals on Sunday and almost single-handedly tore Sampdoria apart.
Negatives: Few to speak of considering Juve managed another run-of-the-mill display, but considering the form of Costa and Juan Cuadrado, perhaps a little more was expected from Paulo Dybala. The player has to learn to adapt to the requirements of each game to ensure he always delivers excellence.
Manager rating out of 10
7 — Despite still feeling the hurt of being knocked out of Europe, Massimiliano Allegri managed to help his men put the disappointment behind them and play with composure and desire to secure another league win. Having rotated the squad, Allegri still demanded efficiency and the team repaid his faith by widening the gap at the top of the table.
Player ratings (1-10; 10=best; players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating):
GK, Gianluigi Buffon, 6 — Denied Fabio Quagliarella in the first half but rarely had anything to do until he stopped Duvan Zapata from grabbing a goal. Always reads the game so well.
DF Benedikt Howedes, 7 — Started only his second match of the season and scored Juve’s second. Defensively, he has yet to grasp the system fully and struggled to contain Zapata in the end, nearly conceding one.
DF Daniele Rugani, 6 — Proved impressive against two good strikers, showing confidence to contain them. Has begun to transmit confidence at the back. Growing.
DF Giorgio Chiellini, 6 — Caught on the ball in the beginning of the first half and the team nearly conceded a goal because of it. However, barring that moment of madness, he took control, delivered the instructions and proved the leader at the back.
DF Kwadwo Asamoah, 6 — Combined well with Blaise Matuidi and managed his duties but his decision-making wasn’t always brilliant.
MF Juan Cuadrado, 6 — Playing with greater wisdom and managing the moments well, there is still a feeling he’s holding himself back from reaching his full potential, especially when he finds himself in space. He could have created a lot more damage if he wanted to but still delivered several key passes.
MF Sami Khedira, 7 — The all-round midfielder, he was on hand to read the game well, contribute defensively and exploit gaps well going forward. Good in the air, he also scored Juve’s third. Always in the right place when needed.
MF Miralem Pjanic, 5 — Didn’t deliver the accuracy required of him and again struggled to play with authority. Struggled with an injury and was taken off before half-time.
MF Blaise Matuidi, 6 — Always understands what is required of him. Really hindered the opponent from pushing forward, provided strength, excellent pressing and accuracy, allowing Juve to take control.
FW Paulo Dybala, 5 — His impact was barely noticeable. He tried to work between the lines and create, but barring a few moments of interesting play, he proved disappointing.
FW Mario Mandzukic, 7– Mandzukic rarely dazzles but he does what is asked of him with efficiency and pragmatism. Scored the goal, sacrificed for the team and always looked for ways to take advantage.
FW Douglas Costa, 8 — A tremendous performance from the player who delivered three assists and is clearly demonstrating a clear understanding with his teammates. His dribbles and his vision are proving simply brilliant. Changed the game and nearly scored a goal in the end to top his man-of-the-match performance.
MF Rodrigo Bentancur, 6 — Authoritative, the youngster plays with character and doesn’t take any risks at the back, defending very well. Takes responsibility.
MF Stefano Sturaro, N/R — Barely had any time to make an impact.
Mina Rzouki covers Juventus and the Italian national team for ESPN FC. Follow her on Twitter: @Minarzouki.