Juventus have suffered two defeats in their last 15 games in all competitions, both at the same stadium. The first came when they played away to Roma in early March and returned to the Olimpico on Saturday night to lose to Lazio as the iconic stadium in the Italian capital once again proved fatal.
It was Sergej Milinkovic-Savic who took advantage of Alex Sandro’s poor defense to break the stalemate in the 38th minute, and Juventus only needed four minutes to equalize thanks to Adrien Rabiot. However, the hosts emerged victorious as Mattia Zaccagni completed a great team move topped off by the amazing skill and vision of Luis Alberto, who set up the winger for an unhindered strike in 53rd.
Lazio started the fight strongly and for most of the first quarter of the match the ball was closer to the Juventus goal. And as soon as the Bianconeri began to push back the hosts and establish control over what was happening on the field, they were brought to naught by Zaccagni’s beautiful cross towards Milinkovic-Savic, which, in truth, Sandro should have done better to recapture.
The Juventus defender, however, decided to provoke contact with the Lazio midfielder and then went down hoping for an offensive foul. Referee Marco Di Bello allowed play to continue and Milinković-Savic scored the goal. The VAR review showed that Sandro lost too easily, and to the dismay of the players in black and white, the goal stood.
Juventus responded almost immediately. Angel Di Maria took a dangerous corner, and although Ivan Provedel well saved Gleison Bremer’s header, Rabiot literally knocked the ball over the line.
The winning goal was a magnificent display of football prowess, and not just separately from Alberto and Zaccagni. It was a group work that also featured Felipe Anderson and Ciro Immobile.
Anderson broke the right flank and dragged a low ball through the box, and when Immobile ran to the near post and dragged Bremer behind him, Federico Gatti remained undecided, and Juan Cuadrado was forced to leave Zaccagni on the right flank. the far post, rushing to block Alberto’s potential shot about a yard from the penalty. Seeing this, Alberto simply decided not to shoot, but toss the ball to Zaccagni instead, and Zaccagni’s shot into the far bottom corner was inch-perfect.
A quick look at the stats gives a pretty good idea of what’s been going on for most of the game. Possession was evenly split between the two teams, they were balanced on shots on target (4-4), Juventus had another miss (3-4); all in all, a relatively even match in which Lazio still managed to look more dangerous, especially on the counter-attacks – they threatened 11 times in this way against Juventus’ four. This difference was especially noticeable in the last 30 minutes, when the guests tried to increase the pressure in search of an equalizer, but they never came.
Assistant coach Marco Landucci was in charge of Juventus and boss Massimiliano Allegri was reportedly ill and in the 63rd minute he made a triple substitution to try and improve his team’s chances. Federico Chiesa replaced Filip Kostić, Dušan Vlahović replaced Arkadiusz Milik and Leandro Paredes replaced Manuel Locatelli to no avail.
Deserved victory for Lazio
With a goal and an assist, it’s hard to argue that Zaccagni was named Man of the Match, but truth be told, none of this would have happened without the hard work of Milinkovic-Savic and the creativity of Alberto, or for that matter, the composure of Danilo Cataldi at the core midfield.
Despite everything the statistics say, Lazio deserved to win this game. It was they who directed his course, and he went as they wanted. Aside from a few errors by left-back Elseid Hysay in the form of a pair of dangerously misplaced passes, the entire Lazio team played a relatively good game and stuck to their plan. Maurizio Sarri has obviously created a great football team that can take on anyone.
On the other hand, nerves and frustration got the better of several Juventus players on several occasions, most notably Juan Cuadrado and Sandro. Kostic, who proved to be extremely important for the Bianconeri in a number of previous matches, was too quiet, and his exit from the game in favor of Chiesa did not come as a surprise. The same goes for his compatriot Vlahovic, who certainly should have been more involved in the development of his team.
Roma picked up a very important three points against Torino and although neither Milan team won their matches, the amazing Juventus came to a halt for a while in this round and it remains to be seen if they can recover. they did so after losing in the capital to Roma.
In this round, Roma also edged out both Milan teams, just behind city rivals Lazio, and widened the gap between seventh-placed Juventus and a much-desired fourth-place finish by eight points. With nine games to go, even if they start winning ruthlessly again, it will be difficult. If they don’t, it won’t be possible.
As for Lazio, it was a great weekend. In the face of the toughest opposition, they have effectively extended their lead over the teams below and if they maintain something of a straight course until the end of the season, their place in the Champions League should not be in doubt. .
But with Napoli still 16 points ahead, it’s obviously too late to think about the Scudetto.