Dani Alves helps inaccurate, lethargic Juventus sneak past Palermo
Boasting a multimillion dollar squad, one imagined Juventus would simply thrash most of their opponents in Serie A.
Instead, they were lucky to grab a 1-0 victory against a Palermo side that possessed a clear game plan and the courage to attack Juve's many weaknesses on Saturday.
Inaccurate, lethargic and bereft of ideas, Juventus struggled to play with sophistication and surrendered to clumsy play, losing possession constantly. Cursed with injuries, the Bianconeri held on to seal all three points, but questions will be asked of a coach who is yet to achieve fluidity and balance.
Despite Palermo's excellent game plan and desire to go forward, they were firmly closed down and blocked off by a tough Juve defence.
Solid and concentrated, Leonardo Bonucci and Andrea Barzagli can always be depended on, while Daniele Rugani is improving and starting to show great character. With the wing-backs helping out and always ready to burst forward to contribute to the attack, Max Allegri will be proud no silly errors were made or terrible goals conceded.
Considering the quality within the side, Juventus must play with more precision and accuracy.
While the players have proved good at winning the ball back, they surrender it rather cheaply on many occasions, allowing the opponent to mount dangerous attacks and pressure the backline.
Against the better sides, Juventus will be soundly beaten, unless they prove more careful in possession, maintain composure and make better choices going forward.
Manager rating out of 10
5 -- Will Marko Pjaca ever play? Was it really necessary to play two forwards who made similar movements but were essentially forced to sacrifice?
If technical play is the aim, should Allegri not include more creative and technical players to ensure fluidity and better quality in key areas of the pitch?
The coach might still be experimenting, changing to a 4-3-3 formation due to Rugani's injury, but his choices in personnel are bizarre. Juve were inaccurate with their passes and poor on a technical level; there was simply too little evidence of a genuine game plan.
Player ratings (1-10; 10=best; players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating):
GK Gianluigi Buffon, 6 -- Concentrated and alert, he can always be counted upon.
DF Alex Sandro, 6 -- Never anything but determined, he's always at the right place at the right time. Less wonderful than usual going forward.
DF Daniele Rugani, 6 -- Was forced off injured early in the game but until then, he was dedicated and concentrated.
DF Leonardo Bonucci, 6 -- Too aggressive at times but provided solidity at the back.
DF Andrea Barzagli, 6 -- Precise and composed, the player's greatest quality lies in how well he reads the game.
DF Dani Alves, 7 -- Perhaps the only one on the pitch with the mentality of a champion. Never gave up. Insistent upon dominating the right lane, he struck at goal to force the chance. More than that, Alves created the opportunities and recovered possession more than any other player.
MF Sami Khedira, 6 -- Not his usual remarkable self, Khedira looked tired and less eager to make the timely runs forward. Still capable of a perfect moment or two.
MF Mario Lemina, 5 -- Remarkable when he is fighting for possession or disrupting Palermo's rhythm; terrible when asked to play as the director of the midfield. Too often guilty of making the wrong choice and of losing possession cheaply after working so hard to regain it.
MF Miralem Pjanic, 5 -- Very hot and cold. Good against Cagliari but less so against Palermo. Needs to show more desire, to create the sophisticated patterns of play Juventus need. At the moment, he's nothing more than mediocre, failing to provide the ideas that unlock a defence.
FW Gonzalo Higuain, 6 -- Not the ideal game for the forward who enjoys pace or creativity alongside him. Could not combine with Mandzukic but at least impressed when tasked with taking on a player.
FW Mario Mandzukic, 6 -- Can never be accused of not working for the team. Demonstrated his physicality, strength and desire to play for the side. Good in the air.
FW Juan Cuadrado, 6 -- Actively pursued all avenues forward. Alert and determined but suffered against his man in the defensive side of the game.
MF Kwadwo Asamoah, 5 -- Wasn't in tune with the style of play. Looked lost on occasion and sadly suffered an injury.
DF Giorgio Chiellini, N/A -- Not on long enough to make a difference.
Mina Rzouki covers Juventus and the Italian national team for ESPN FC. Follow her on Twitter: @Minarzouki.