The Italian Super Cup, contested by Lazio and Juventus, was an incredibly exciting match, and a fantastic opening event to the Serie A season commencing next weekend.
Lazio went 2-0 up in the first half, thanks to a brace from Immobile. Paulo Dybala then scored a free-kick in the 85th minute, before seemingly taking the game to extra-time with a 90th minute penalty, only for Alessandro Murgia to score an injury-time winner to see Lazio beat the Bianconeri for the first time since 2013.
So what did we learn from this action-packed goal-fest?
1. Dybala destined for greatness
Despite being on the losing side, Paulo Dybala showed why he deserved the number 10 jersey this season, the same number worn by Juventus legends Roberto Baggio and Alessandro Del Piero, the number unused since the departure of Paul Pogba.
The Argentine was quiet for most of the game, and will certainly have better all-round performances, but Dybala showed his ability to grab the game by the scruff of the neck. He took the free-kick from Miralem Pjanic and buried it into the corner, and then coolly slotted in the equalising penalty minutes later. He showed great composure and leadership for a player just 23 years of age, and while his teammates were floundering, unable to affect the game, it was the man often compared to Lionel Messi who shouldered the responsibility and dragged his side back into the contest.
2. Juventus already missing Bonucci?
It is hard to make judgements for the whole season based off one match, but there was a big Bonucci-sized hole in the Juventus back line, noticeable throughout. The goals conceded came from moments of uncharacteristically sloppy defending, with players losing their focus during important moments. Medhi Benatia failed to impress, completely losing Ciro Immobile for Lazio’s second goal, before being hauled off the pitch in the 56th minute.
This raises questions about who Giorgio Chiellini’s centre-back partner will be this season. Is Daniele Rugani ready to play every game of the season? Is Andrea Barzagli past his best at the age of 36? Do Juventus need to sign another centre-back? Whatever they do, they need to find a solution. If they keep defending like this, they will struggle to keep clean sheets this season.
3. Time needed to figure out best eleven
Last season, Juventus played a five at the back formation that brought out the best in their players. The three centre-backs held the line, while the two full-backs constantly bombed forward, allowing Mario Mandzukic to be deployed out wide and not have to worry too much about his lack of pace.
With Bonucci’s departure, Massimiliano Allegri has decided to switch to a more conventional four at the back. However, he doesn’t seem to know his best team at the moment, and perhaps doesn’t yet trust his players fully. There was a lot of chopping and changing in pre-season, and while this was in part to build up match fitness, it has left Allegri unsure of his best eleven. The decision to start Barzagli at right-back was an odd one, as he offered nothing going forward, and showed a distinct lack of pace out wide. Once Mattia Di Sciglio was brought on and Barzagli was moved into his more favoured centre-back role, the team looked more balanced and potent.
Mandzukic struggled in the new formation, with his lack of pace affecting the team. With the new formation, the full-backs have to be more defensive minded, meaning that Alex Sandro could not offer the Croatian an overlap as much as he would have liked. Mandzukic is not a typical winger, so does not offer width or mobility, and without support going forward this can be a big issue.
When Douglas Costa and Federico Bernardeschi came on, they instantly gave the Lazio defenders a bigger challenge. The two of them took on their opponents and used their pace to cause trouble. Maybe Mandzukic will see his role lessened this season, as more pace will be needed out wide. Still too early to tell for sure, but his place in the starting eleven is under threat.
4. Immobile continues to impress
Ciro Immobile continues to look a rejuvenated player. After leaving Torino for Dortmund three years ago, he struggled to recapture his form, and even a return to The Bulls couldn’t help him.
Fast-forward to today, and after coming off an impressive 23-goal season in Serie A, Immobile continues to show why he was once such a highly rated forward. He wreaked havoc among the Juventus defenders, converting a penalty that he won before rising above anyone to head in Lazio’s second. He looks sharp and back to his best, and if he stays fit he seems set for another impressive goal tally this season.
5. No Keita, no Anderson, no problem
Lazio were missing two of their key players in this match, Balde Keita and Felipe Anderson. The former seems set for a move away from the Biancocelesti, possibly to Juventus, while the latter was on the bench nursing an injury. You wouldn’t have been able to tell.
Lazio were superb all night, working fantastically well as a unit to close Juventus down, not allowing their midfielders time or space on the ball. They looked dangerous in attack, even without those two key wingers, and when Anderson returns to the team they will be a force to be reckoned with.
They looked solid defensively as well, working tirelessly to shut down any Juve attacks, and were only undone by a moment of Dybala magic and a silly penalty, perhaps given away due to fatigue.
Lazio impressed last season under Simone Inzaghi, finishing fifth, and if last night was anything to go by, they could have another highly successful season. If Inzaghi is given the money to spend from player sales to bolster the team, they could very well challenge for Europe this season, no doubt about it.
Want to share your opinion? Why not Write For Us?