Sunday, October 24, 2021

Torino 0-1 Juventus: Late Locatelli strike settles Derby della Mole

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 2 Oct 2021

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Manuel Locatelli came up with another precious Juventus goal to keep their winning run going in a 1-0 Derby della Mole success at Torino.

After an awful start to the season, the Bianconeri came into this game against their city rivals on the back of three victories in a row in all competitions.

Wednesday’s Champions League triumph at home to holders Chelsea provided a particular highlight, but it looked as though Juve’s momentum would be checked as the final match before the international break remained goalless heading into the closing stages.

Locatelli – whose first goal for the club proved decisive against Sampdoria in Juve’s previous league game – came up with a winner four minutes from time, however, reward for a much-improved second half and enough to take Massimiliano Allegri’s men eighth.

It had looked like being a more comfortable outing when a team showing three changes from the Chelsea win again effectively employed counter-attacking tactics early on.

Moise Kean barged into the box but dragged wide, and lax defending then let Adrien Rabiot in to tee up Weston McKennie, who blasted over.

However, the visitors struggled to get out for the remainder of the first half, firmly on the back foot as Sasa Lukic passed up Torino’s best chance with a wayward header from Ola Aina’s long throw.

The introduction of Juan Cuadrado in place of Kean at the break triggered a Juve rally, although Alex Sandro’s header from his cross was well saved and the substitute’s appeals for a penalty after tangling with Tommaso Pobega were waved away.

Juve continued to possess far more of the ball than earlier in the game, but a breakthrough appeared unlikely until Locatelli found space and his low shot just evaded Vanja Milinkovic-Savic’s grasp and clipped the foot of the post on the way in.

What does it mean? Juve belatedly take command and look better for it

Juventus may have undone Chelsea by sitting deep, soaking up pressure with just a 27 per cent share of the ball and hitting the European champions on the break, but the flaws in that approach were laid bare against more modest opponents.

While Allegri’s side have now averaged 50 per cent of the possession in the league this season, they fell some way short of that middling mark in the first half – 39 per cent allowing them only four shots, all off target, to Torino’s nine.

Quite why Juve sat off Torino and invited the home crowd to get involved is a mystery, but they looked so much better in the second period, with 67 per cent of the ball and six shots, including Locatelli’s winner.

Cuadrado introduction key

Pavel Nedved lauded Kean as a “phenomenon” on DAZN ahead of the match, but it was the forward’s removal at the interval that led to Juventus taking control, with Cuadrado restored to the side and forming the same three-man forward line that saw off Chelsea.

Of Juve’s two shots on target prior to the goal, Cuadrado attempted one and created the other – his two key passes a team high. It was Federico Chiesa’s smart ball that found Locatelli, though.

Crucial clean sheet at last

A second 1-0 win of the week was particularly notable given Juventus’ uncharacteristically poor defensive record heading into the derby, having conceded in 20 straight matches in Serie A – one shy of their worst ever sequence in 1955.

Giorgio Chiellini was back in from the start, and he contributed five clearances while winning seven of 10 duels, including five of six in the air.

Key Opta Facts

– Locatelli has scored two goals in seven Serie A appearances this season. Only last term (four) has he scored more in a single top-flight campaign.
– The Juventus midfielder has found the net in two successive league appearances for the first time in his Serie A career.
– Torino fielded their youngest XI in a Serie A match (24 years and 45 days) since May 1996 against Lazio.
– Juve failed to land a single shot on target in a Serie A first half against Torino for the first time since Opta started collecting this data in 2004-05, finally hitting the target in the 53rd minute.
– Chiellini drew level with Gaetano Scirea with 377 Serie A appearances for Juve, fourth-most in their history.

What’s next?

The international break gives both sides chance to regroup. Juventus return at home to Roma on October 17, the same day Torino are at Napoli.

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