Paulo Dybala and Weston McKennie stood out as Juventus saw off Udinese on Saturday to draw level on points with fourth-placed Atalanta.
Serie A giants Juventus breezed past a depleted Udinese side to boost their chances of finishing in the top four. The three points on the night helped the Bianconeri draw level with Atalanta, who are currently placed fourth. La Dea, however, have two games in hand and could pull away should they win them both. As long as Massimiliano Allegri’s side keeps winning, they will be doing their part.
Juventus enjoyed the lion’s share of the possession and took the lead in the 19th minute, thanks to Paulo Dybala. While Juventus barely needed to get out of second gear, Udinese did have their moments and ended up with more shots in the game.
The home side had to wait until the 79th minute to secure a two-goal cushion. Weston McKennie headed in Mattia De Sciglio’s fine cross into the penalty area. The American international is in excellent form and Juventus will be glad as they aim to end the season on a high.
The performance as a whole left much to be desired. There are certain players who need to up their outputs and others who are starting to show off their ability regularly. Just how long the Bianconeri can keep their run going remains to be seen.
300 – Massimiliano #Allegri reached tonight his 300th game as #Juventus manager and he won his 208th match: among the three coaches who have reached this milestone for Juventus (Trapattoni and Lippi the others), he is the one with the highest percentage of wins (69%). DNA. pic.twitter.com/vzxq3uGxuX
— OptaPaolo 🏆 (@OptaPaolo) January 15, 2022
Massimiliano Allegri made history on the night as the third manager to reach 300 games for Juventus. He has won 208 of them and boasts an impressive 69% win rate that puts him in a league of his own. The Hard Tackle looks at how the Juventus players fared on the night.
Wojciech Szczesny: 6/10
With Juventus keeping the ball for most of the game, the Polish international was barely called into action. But he was ready when needed and produced a couple of decent saves. He denied an in-form Beto in the first half before tipping over a stunning strike from Isaac Success late in the second half.
Juan Cuadrado: 5/10
It was not the Colombian veteran’s finest outing in a Juventus shirt. Usually an outlet going forward on the right flank, Cuadrado was surprisingly off colour and failed to show imagination. It was not a performance he will look back on with fondness.
Matthijs de Ligt: 7/10
The Dutchman was in fine form and neutralised the threat of Beto. He also organised the defence well and was visibly furious at his teammates, who let the Udinese attackers sneak in at times. Matthijs de Ligt used his physicality to good effect and continues to grow in stature as a dependable defender.
— Matthijs de Ligt (@mdeligt_04) January 15, 2022
Daniele Rugani: 5/10
The Italian had a good outing but had one or two nervy moments where he threatened to let the Udinese forwards pass him. Thankfully de Ligt was there to cover and ensured that his partner’s errors did not prove costly.
Luca Pellegrini: 4/10
It was not the left-back’s finest outing as he looked rusty and struggled on either end of the pitch. He made several errors, and a better opposition winger could have had a field day against him. It was no surprise that Pellegrini was taken off before the hour mark.
Dejan Kulusevski: 4/10
With Federico Chiesa out injured, Kulusevski has an opportunity to cement his position and make a case for his inclusion as a first-team regular. However, if his performance on the night was anything to go by, he has a long way to go. The Swedish international barely offered any threat and was taken off at half-time.
Arthur Melo: 5/10
The former Barcelona man was the lone pivot on the night and did reasonably well. However, an early booking took the steam out of his game, and he adopted a more conservative approach going forward. Worried about the Brazilian getting sent off, Massimilano Allegri took off the Brazilian at half-time.
Rodrigo Bentancur: 6/10
The Uruguayan enjoyed a good first half, where he was arguably the best player on the pitch. He helped Juventus win the midfield battle and aided in the smooth transition from defence to attack. Bentancur’s performance dropped off in the second half, and he made several unforced errors. Thankfully Udinese failed to take advantage of them.
Weston McKennie: 7/10
The American international was the standout player for Juventus in the Sueprcoppa Italiana against Inter Milan earlier in the week. He continued his fine form against Udinese and continues to see his stature grow. Despite playing every minute of Juventus’s last few games, his energy levels looked good as he bombed up and down the pitch with enthusiasm.
His fine finish in the second half gave the home side a two-goal cushion to protect. As long as he is in this kind of form, McKennie can be considered indispensable.
Paulo Dybala: 7/10
The Argentine international continues to be in the news as his contract at Juventus winds down. After giving his side the lead, the glare he aimed towards the club’s hierarchy appeared to have been a power move. If anything, the match showed just how much the team’s attack is dependent on Dybala. Losing him, especially on a free in the summer, would be extremely poor planning on the club’s side.
Dybala looked at the stands [and at Juventus board] in this way after his goal. Why? ⤵️🇦🇷
Paulo answers ironically to Sky: “I invited a friend and I couldn't find him – there were a lot of people…. do you’ve to believe me? I don't know, it's up to you!”pic.twitter.com/X2WYHWHzKz
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) January 15, 2022
Dybala was eager to receive the ball all night, and his mobility caused Udiense several problems. When on song, the 28-year-old is difficult to pin down, and it showed on Saturday.
Moise Kean: 5/10
In the first half, Kean had a few good moments and even played a role in Dybala’s well-taken opening goal. However, his influence waned as the match went on, and Alvaro Morata replaced him after the hour mark.
Manuel Locatelli: 5/10
The UEFA Euro 2020 hero replaced Arthur at the break and offered some solidity in the middle of the park. While the performance was acceptable, he was far off his best.
Federico Bernardeschi: 5/10
The Italian winger replaced the quiet Kulusevski and fared a little better. The duo will have to roll up their socks given that Federico Chiesa will be unavailable for the remainder of the campaign.
Mattia De Sciglio: 6/10
A considerable upgrade on the sub-par Pellegrini, De Sciglio was solid in defence and bombed up his flank to great effect. He found McKennie with an excellent cross in the 74th minute, but the American could not turn it home. However, the duo combined to score Juventus’s second goal in the 79th minute to put the tie to bed.
— mattiadesciglio2 (@mattia_desci) January 15, 2022
Alvaro Morata: 6/10
The Spaniard showed more intent than Kean and was not afraid to do the hard running. But he lacked the end product and faded as the match went on.
Adrien Rabiot: N/A
The Frenchman has struggled for form of late and had to settle for a role off the bench in the game. He replaced a fatigued Bentancur in the 82nd minute but did little of note.