Federico Chiesa was a lone bright spot as Leonardo Mancuso-led Empoli condemned Juventus to a stunning upset at the Allianz Stadium.
Massimiliano Allegri’s first home game in his second coming at Juventus turned out to be a forgettable affair as Empoli promptly turned up to spoil the party. The 2020/21 Serie B champions stunned the Old Lady with a gritty 1-0 win and left the Turin giants winless in their first two games of the new season.
Allegri’s side huffed and puffed but failed to get their creative juices flowing. Federico Chiesa was the lone bright spark in what was an abject display on the night. Ultimately, a 21st-minute strike by Empoli striker Leonardo Mancuso made the difference.
Juventus had the resources at their disposal to bring on Alvaro Morata, Dejan Kulusevski and new signing Manuel Locatelli from the bench. Despite all the firepower available, the Old Lady created few clear cut chances.
The Turin giants were given a timely reminder of the player they lost in Cristiano Ronaldo on Saturday night. The Portuguese maestro accounted for 36 per cent of the Italians’ goals over the last two seasons. While they may or may not replace the player, it is imperative that those numbers are matched either collectively or individually.
Juventus now find themselves in the 13th spot in Serie A. Hardly where they imagined themselves to be at the start of the season. The international break should give them time to regroup and start afresh.
Allegri will also have to take some blame for tinkering with a 4-3-1-2 formation to counter Empoli. Danilo was deployed as a regista, a position that the Brazilian isn’t familiar with and had a hard time adjusting to. While the Italian tactician did change his midfield, the initiative had by then already been handed to the visitors.
The last time Juventus started off winless in their first two games of the season was in 2015/16. Allegri’s side won just three of their first ten Serie A games that season. However, they followed it up with 26 wins and a draw in the remaining 28 games to win the league at a canter. Whether history will repeat itself remains to be seen.
3 – Juventus have failed to win each of their first two Serie A seasonal matches only for the third time in their last 52 top-flight campaigns (after 2010/11 and 2015/16). Hassle.#SerieA #JuveEmpoli pic.twitter.com/nhhdIzSd7W
— OptaPaolo 🏆 (@OptaPaolo) August 28, 2021
Wojciech Szczesny (5/10)
A better outing than his horrorshow against Udinese last week. However, he failed to inspire or assure his defence and looked shaky. The Pole will need to step up and make himself count in the games to come.
Alex Sandro (5/10)
Failed to contribute to the attack and was often caught out. His decision to attack the ball in the 21st minute was ill-timed and ended up leaving Mancuso unmarked to drive home the winner.
Leonardo Bonucci (7/10)
The elder statesman was a rock at the back for Juventus and marshalled his men well. Led from the front and made a number of key interceptions. The scoreline could have been less flattering if not for him.
Matthijs de Ligt (6/10)
Looked shaky initially but recovered his bearings as the game went on. Did well to cover for his teammates as well and was one of Juventus’ better players on the night
Juan Cuadrado (5/10)
A far cry from his impressive outing against Udinese. The Colombian failed to get forward to effect and often left spaces behind him for Empoli to exploit. Taken off for Mattia De Sciglio late in the game.
300 – Juan #Cuadrado plays tonight his 300th Serie A game, becoming only the third Colombian to reach this milestone in the three points for a win era, after Iván Córdoba (323) and Cristián Zapata (311). Podium.#SerieA #JuveEmpoli pic.twitter.com/Jzewiv2A1v
— OptaPaolo 🏆 (@OptaPaolo) August 28, 2021
Given a proper run around by Nedim Bajrami. Deployed as a regista, Danilo struggled to adapt to his new role and was akin to a fish out of water. Also earned himself a yellow card for his troubles.
Rodrigo Bentancur (5/10)
Started well but lost his bearings as the game went on. Lost the ball on a number of occasions and appeared far from assured. Arguably Juventus’s best midfielder against Udinese, he was booed off by his own fans this time around.
Adrien Rabiot (5/10)
The Frenchman looked bereft of ideas and failed to produce a single moment of note. Largely a passenger in midfield, he failed to track back and cover for Sandro’s mistake that led to Empoli’s winner. Rightfully pulled for Federico Berbardeschi in the 55th minute.
Weston McKennie (5.5/10)
The youngster started out as Juventus’s most advanced midfielder on the night. McKennie tried his best and was not afraid to push himself forward. Unfortunately little came off. Taken off for Alvaro Morata at half-time. The American was, however, a better player on the night than his other starting midfielders, although that isn’t saying much.
Paulo Dybala (5/10)
Dybala started off as a centre forward but struggled to get going against Empoli’s defence. Reverted back to a familiar role in the second half but did little to change the result. A difficult night that was in stark contrast to his stellar performance against Udinese. A timely reminder of the inconsistency that plagues the gifted Argentine.
Federico Chiesa (8/10)
Juventus’s best player on the night by far. The Italian ace troubled the Empoli defence regularly and also tested Guglielmo Vicario thrice. Drew gasps from the crowd with a mazy run and was largely a one-man army in the attack. Taken off for Dejan Kulusekvski. in the 66th minute.
Federico Chiesa had three shots on target out of four for Juventus against Empoli.
— Max Aimé-Thierry (@maxaimethierry) August 28, 2021
Alvaro Morata (5/10)
Replaced McKennie at half-time but hardly improved matters. Morata failed to create anything of note and was as ineffective as most of the players around him.
Federico Bernardeschi (5/10)
Ran around a lot but failed to create anything of note. Booked for arguing with the referee.
Manuel Locatelli (6/10)
The Euro 2020 star came off the bench for just his second appearance for the club. Showed more effort than anyone else in midfield on the night. It was however too late for him to make an impact and was surrounded by players who lacked the same initiative.
Dejan Kulusevski (6/10)
The Swedish winger tried his best and had an overall decent outing. Paled in comparison to Chiesa who he replaced in the 66th minute.
Mattia De Sciglio (5/10)
Brought on late for the ineffective Cuadrado, the Italian did little of note.