It was a far from an enterprising performance from Juventus yet they still managed to walk away with a 2-0 victory over Crotone to open up a seven-point lead at the top of the table.
Crotone did an exceptional job at shutting down their opponents, flooding the defence and blocking off any space to avoid conceding but their hard work only lasted an hour. As soon as Juventus amped up the pressure and pushed forward with greater intensity, they eventually pierced through the defence and grabbed a quick second to seal all three points.
While neither player dazzled, Tomas Rincon and Marko Pjaca both produced admirable debut performances as starters. The Croatian grew into the game, especially creating problems for the opponent when he was moved to the left, while Rincon worked immensely hard to win back possession and even delivered the assist for Gonzalo Higuain's goal.
Miralem Pjanic never looked to be a difference maker but his absence from the opening 70 minutes of the match was keenly felt as Juventus looked void of ideas, forcing Paulo Dybala to drop back in search of the ball and Leonardo Bonucci to act as a playmaker. Juventus have come to rely too heavily on certain players, ones whose absence will heavily affect the execution of their tactical ideals.
Manager rating out of 10
7 -- Massimiliano Allegri did what he does best, adjust his tactics to seal the win. After moving Dybala to the right and Pjaca to the left, Juventus produced a better performance in the second half while the introduction of Pjanic facilitated the side's movements going forward.
Player ratings (1-10, with 10 the best; players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating):
GK Gianluigi Buffon, 6 -- Alert to stop Diego Falcinelli and then Leonardo Capezzi but little to speak of otherwise.
DF Dani Alves, 6 -- Having just returned from injury he looks off the pace and a little rusty but he worked well with his companions on the right even if he could have been more accurate on the ball.
DF Leonardo Bonucci, 6 -- A little rough at the back resulting in a yellow but forced to act as a playmaker in Pjanic's absence and wasn't always accurate.
DF Daniele Rugani, 7 -- A composed performance from the player who pushed forward well and handled his duties expertly at the back. Progressing nicely.
DF Kwadwo Asamoah, 6 -- His best quality lies in his ability to keep hold of the ball. Pushed forward while remaining defensively cautious. He can always be relied upon to halt the opponent but cannot quite provide the attacking impact Alex Sandro can.
MF Sami Khedira, 5 -- Tackled well but considering he had support on a defensive level, more was expected from an attacking sense. A little more muted than usual.
MF Tomas Rincon, 6 -- Aggressive and determined, he recovered possession consistently and even delivered the assist that led to the second goal. Not a player of great technique but proved effective on the night.
MF Marko Pjaca, 6 -- Much to admire about his desire. Not the best in the first half but soon caused problems in the second. It's clear he's not integrated into the rhythm perfectly yet resulting in some poor decisions but his potential was evident.
MF Paulo Dybala, 6 -- Obstructed by the opponents' physicality but made an impression. Always creating chances and looking for ways to initiate attacks but needs a player like Pjanic behind to allow him to be more effective further forward.
MF Mario Mandzukic, 6 -- Never the most refined player on the pitch but his hard work in midfield coupled with his important opening goal allowed the team to relax.
FW Gonzalo Higuain, 7 -- Scored the second goal but his overall work rate and ability to sacrifice for the unit deserves praise, exploiting space and delivering accuracy. Always on the hunt for goal and the win.
MF Miralem Pjanic, 7 -- His arrival on the pitch soon resulted in a second Juventus goal. Excellent at controlling the game and offering direction. Nearly scored a sensational goal but he hit the crossbar.
DF Andrea Barzagli, N/A -- Only on for a few minutes.
MF Stefano Sturaro, N/A -- Virtually no time to make an impact.