Dusan Vlahovic took the opportunity to break his recent scoring drought and his penalty was enough to give Juventus the victory away to Freiburg and seal their progress to the quarter-finals of the Europa League.
A penalty was awarded to the Bianconeri before half-time when a VAR review spotted a handball from Manuel Gulde and the defender was sent off with a second yellow card, bringing the German side down to 10 men.
A late Federico Chiesa goal meant Juventus won 2-0 at the Stade Europa-Park which secured a 3-0 aggregate win, however, Vlahovic’s goal was just his 11th scored in all competitions for the Italian giants in 2022/23.
He also had a goal disallowed in the first half after he was adjudged to have been offside in the build-up but the Serbian can be relieved for now after he found the back of the net again.
Vlahovic must keep scoring for Juventus and his own confidence
Vlahovic has scored two goals in four Europa League matches so far in 2023 for Juventus, which seems decent enough, but he has failed to score in five Serie A matches and he missed a hatful of chances in the 4-2 victory against Sampdoria in the previous weekend.
It is clear that the 23-year-old is a confidence player, and things should be tougher this weekend as the Bianconeri travel away to face Inter in the next edition of the Derby d’Italia. Although it was a penalty, Vlahovic should be more relieved now that he has scored again and proved to everyone how lethal he can be.
He was replaced by Federico Chiesa, who sealed the tie with a well-taken strike in injury time. If the Italian winger can improve on his fitness, that should also take pressure off the Serbian forward.
Gatti must start in defence for Juventus ahead of Bonucci
One of the bright spots in the predictable win against Freiburg was the performance of Federico Gatti in defence for Juventus, displaying both great defensive awareness and effective ball distribution. He was also important in earning the decisive penalty, showing his ability to go forward when the opportunity presents itself.
Surely the fresher legs of the 24-year-old should also be more reason to phase out veteran defender Leonardo Bonucci. Although the experienced centre-back has recently returned from a long injury lay-off, it is clear that he is not as mobile as he used to be and he is slower than his opponents.
If struggling Sampdoria can expose the 35-year-old, then Juve coach Massimiliano Allegri must give Gatti more chances instead of trusting Bonucci for the sake of experience.
Grifo inexplicably left on the Freiburg bench
Freiburg coach Christian Streich did not start his talisman and Italy international Vincenzo Grifo against Juventus, much to the surprise of many. It was clear that the German team had difficulty containing the Bianconeri, and did not pose much of a threat going forward, especially without their star player.
Juve goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny needed to save a Matthias Ginter header in the first half, otherwise he was not particularly active in the first half. Gulde received a second yellow card after using his arm to deflect a Gatti shot, which resulted in the penalty, and in turn, made Freiburg’s task more difficult.
The club from the Black Forest had shouts for an indirect free-kick after Manuel Locatelli had passed the ball back to Szczesny but the Germans had some players offside beforehand.
Reaching the Round of 16 was still an impressive achievement for a club of Freiburg’s stature but leaving Grifo on the bench and a passive approach from Streich would have left their fans more disappointed with this elimination from the Europa League.