Juventus fought out a gritty win over a depleted Genoa side today in a mid-week Coppa Italia clash, and it's safe to say that Juve should not have struggled as much as they did - especially after showing how dominant they could be, as seen through their 3-1 win over table toppers AC Milan. Here are a few things we've learned from the clash:
The Ronaldo effect
We all thought we had seen Juve's weak mentality from previous seasons fade away when brushing aside an inform Milan at their own stadium, but history seemed to repeat itself when they needed extra time to beat a depleted Genoa side. Key players like Zapata and Pellegrini were missing due to injuries. Juventus had gone 2-0 ahead due to some brilliant work from Kulusevski, but the player could not keep consistent, missing a huge 1v1 chance that came back to haunt the Bianconeri as Genoa ended up scoring two to equalize. One much imagine how Juve would have been with Ronaldo on that 1v1 chance or him being on the pitch in general. While Juve performed relatively well in the Champions League group stages without Cristiano, they have been showing a lack of mentality against some of the smaller sides in the league, and evidently in the Cup. This is a problem that needs to be fixed immediately; another striker needs to be brought in this window if possible.
A poor Gigi showing
Buffon is arguably one of the best goalkeepers of all time, and definitely should be considered within the top 5 keepers of the 21st century. However, his performance against Genoa last night was not the best depiction of such. Both goals debatably could have been saved by the Italian veteran, and while we can't blame him entirely (he is 42, after all), he could have perhaps shown more of his class. Without a last-gasp curler from outside the box which could've been saved from a keeper of Buffon's stature, Alvaro Morata would not have to be fielded despite just coming back from injury. The first goal was even worse, as Gigi got a hand to it but wasn't able to palm it away - even though the header did not have a great deal of power behind it. Fingers crossed for a better showing next time!
A Dream Debut
What a debut it was from Hamza Rafia. While most fans on social media are focused on Ronaldo's role in the goal, we have to give credit to the Tunisian youngster, who kept his cool to send Juve through to the quarter finals of the Coppa Italia. In the next round, Juventus will face the winner of either SPAL or Sassuolo. The winner was from one of the least expected sources, with 30 million signing Kulusevski, French national side starter Rabiot and Ronaldo all still on the pitch. He deserves credit for it, and hopefully Pirlo starts the midfielder again in another easy clash, like the quarter finals taking place on the 26th of January.