The returning Federico Chiesa was the saviour for Juventus as they began their new year with a 1-1 draw against Napoli at home.
Juventus and Napoli resumed their Series A campaigns in the new year with a 1-1 draw at the Allianz Stadium on Thursday. Both sides endured differing fortunes in December and would have been keen to script a turnaround in 2022.
Massimiliano Allegri’s side started the brighter of the two sides and looked set to seize the early initiative. Juventus should have taken the lead early on, but Weston McKennie could not divert Federico Bernardeschi’s delivery on target. That miss would come back to haunt the Bianconeri as Napoli, against the run of play, grabbed the opener thanks to the ever-reliable Dries Mertens.
The Belgian received Matteo Politano’s pass and found himself confronted by a retreating Matthijs de Ligt. The Napoli striker did not need a second invitation and smashed home the ball past a hapless Wojciech Szczesny.
But Napoli could not hold on and conceded the equaliser in the second half. The returning Federico Chiesa saw a deflection fall kindly to him and made no mistake in putting the ball into the back of the net.
— OptaPaolo 🏆 (@OptaPaolo) January 6, 2022
The draw leaves Juventus three points behind Atalanta in fifth. While it can be argued that they lost an opportunity to win against a depleted Napoli side, they were at the very least able to avoid a defeat. There is a lot to play for, and Chiesa and Paulo Dybala’s returns will hand thema much-needed boost in attack. The Hard Tackle looks at how the Juventus players fared on the night.
Wojciech Szczesny: 6/10
The Polish international was largely a reliable performer on the night and made several routine saves throughout the game. He did his best to prevent Dries Mertens but could only get his fingertips onto the well-placed strike. It would be unfair to blame him for conceding the goal.
Juan Cuadrado: 6/10
The Colombian is usually a constant outlet in attack from the right flank. Juventus struggled to create much, and the onus once again fell to Cuadrado to use his imagination going forward. The full-back did his best and had some good moments but failed to stand out on the night.
Doesn’t matter who manager is, Juve’s midfield has been so unremarkable for yeas that their best option is either hope Cuadrado invents something from nothing or that Chiesa goes on a long run
— David Amoyal (@DavidAmoyal) January 6, 2022
Daniele Rugani: 7/10
Rugani received a rare start thanks to the unavailability of Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci. The Italian defender did well, and it is a testament to his performance that Juventus did not appear to miss their veteran rearguard duo.
Matthijs de Ligt: 7/10
The Dutchman was excellent on the night and formed a reliable partnership with Rugani at the heart of the Juventus defence. He could have arguably done better to prevent Mertens’s opener but did not put a foot wrong otherwise.
Alex Sandro: 4/10
The Brazilian looked shorn of ideas and enthusiasm and was largely a passenger on the night. He carried little threat down the left flank and did little of note. His standout moment was receiving a yellow card for a poor tackle on Politano.
Manuel Locatelli: 7/10
The summer signing was the brightest spark of the Juventus midfield that looked largely uninterested and shorn of ideas. Locatelli showed initiative and did his best to get involved in the final third whenever possible. While most of his ideas did not pan out as expected, his intent cannot be questioned.
Weston McKennie: 5/10
The American spurned an excellent opportunity to give Juventus the lead in the first half. Federico Bernardeschi’s pinpoint cross was met by McKennie, who failed to direct it towards the goal. He was unable to create much of merit and faded as the match went on.
Adrien Rabiot: 3/10
Rabiot was industrious on the night, but that was about it. What the Frenchman brings to the table is questionable as he produced another performance devoid of imagination. He contributed little to on either end of the pitch and was pulled out for Rodrigo Bentancur in the second half.
Rabiot 20 minuti di nulla, NULLA.
A che cazzo serve un cc così? A cosa ziocane voglio una spiegazione.
— Nick (@nickkwolff) January 6, 2022
Federico Bernardeschi: 3/10
The winger was Juventus’s in-form player going into the game, but little of it was on show. He provided an excellent corner early in the first half that McKennie failed to divert home. Apart from that, there is little for the Italian to write home about.
Alvaro Morata: 3/10
The striker was sloppy on the night and appeared to be a step behind others on the field. Precious little to write about, given his overall lack of impact.
Federico Chiesa: 8/10
The UEFA Euro 2020 star looked to be in fine nick and was Juventus’s biggest threat on the night. Despite those around him not turning up, Chiesa grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck and did his best to lead Juventus to all three points.
He had a few chances in the first half but could not make them count. Chiesa’s deflected goal in the second half drew the home side level and earned them a share of the spoils. Juventus’s over-reliance on Chiesa is shocking.
Federico Chiesa scores in his first game back from injury 🤩 pic.twitter.com/BnUXfiJrBB
— GOAL (@goal) January 6, 2022
Paulo Dybala: 7/10
After coming on, the Argentine looked to be in good form and instantly forced a save from David Ospina. He was a vast improvement over Bernardeschi and immediately upped his side’s tempo and pace. Dybala and Chiesa’s returns will give Allegri more reasons to look forward to the upcoming games.
Rodrigo Bentancur: 5/10
Bentancur replaced the ineffective Rabiot and added solidity in the middle of the park. While the Uruguayan international did not particularly stand out, he was an immediate improvement over the extremely poor Rabiot.
Moise Kean: 5/10
Kean replaced Morata in the 75th minute as Juventus sought a late winner. He missed a golden opportunity to win the game for Juventus in the fifth minute of stoppage time and could only sky Cuadrado’s cross past a stranded Ospina.
Mattia De Sciglio: 5/10
An instant improvement over the poor Alex Sandro.
Dejan Kulusevski: 5/10
The Swede replaced Chiesa in the 81st minute but was hardly involved during his time on the field.