MAPEI STADIUM (Reggio Emilia): There’s a certain sense of impending doom for Juventus’ opponents the longer they go without scoring against the Bianconeri. Despite having seemingly nothing to offer in the final third for much of any given game, over the course of 90 minutes, Massimiliano Allegri’s side, more often than not, just find a way to get the job done.
So if you were to be told that the scoring in one of their games would be opened midway through the second half, you’d probably back the scorer to be wearing a Bianconeri – or pink – shirt.
But in Reggio Emilia on Matchday 30 of the 2022/23 Serie A season, it was Sassuolo who started the brighter – they were on the front foot in possession, moved the ball with purpose and they were aggressive in their pressing whenever they lost it in an attempt to win it back immediately.
Sassuolo value for their victory
Unlike many sides against Juventus, Sassuolo started well and were able to maintain that high level of performance, and Gregoire Defrel coming off the bench at half time to then bag a fine opener was no more than they deserved. That his strike would prove to be the winner was, again, merited.
Although on-field performances and points accumulated on the pitch tell you that Juventus are Italy’s third-best team, the warning signs have been there for a while that they can be got at. Prior to making the trip to Emilia-Romagna, Juventus had lost two of their previous three away games – albeit to high-quality opposition in AS Roma and Lazio – which ended a record of having won six from seven on the road. Sassuolo had laid out warnings though, as the Neroverdi had won three of their previous four against top-seven opposition; now four from five.
Dionisi’s work producing results
Roberto De Zerbi’s exit from Sassuolo a couple of seasons ago looked as though it could be really detrimental to a side built in his image, but Alessio Dionisi’s appointment as his successor is as shrewd as they come. Having earned his chance at a Serie A job, Dionisi had some slight teething problems but has since made this Neroverdi side his own.
A poor start to 2022/23 had many wondering if this was finally the season that they fell back down and out of the top flight which, given their status, could be fatal, but they’ve gone on to claim wins against AC Milan, Atalanta, Roma and now Juventus in the second half of the season and have re-established themselves in their comfortably familiar mid-table position.
What’s perhaps most impressive about Dionisi’s work this season is that they’ve often been without talisman and leader Domenico Berardi. The no.10 has, due to a number of injury problems, played just 19 of their 30 Serie A games.