The Juventus 2020/21 football season was one fraught with turmoil and disappointments, but the club would not be disappointed today. Andrea Pirlo and company came up big and collected their second trophy for the season while assuring the new kit (that was worn on the pitch in all of its glory today) would be adorned with the coccarda badge to replace the newly vacated scudetto. The season isn’t over just yet though. Juventus must defeat Bologna on Sunday and then get some help from their just defeated opponent to take down Milan to save the Champions League birth and the season.
Notice: All ratings are calculated through a stringent process utilizing statistics and the eye test called My Opinion and are most certainly incorrect.
Gianluigi Buffon - 6.5
In what is likely to be the final (again) match for the Italian National and Juventus legend in a Bianconeri shirt, Gianluigi Buffon came up big in multiple moments to help add one more trophy to the Juventus award shelves. There is little space to write a sentence or two that would truly honor what Buffon means to Juventus fans and to me personally. Without the likes of Gigi Buffon and Alessandro Del Piero, I would not be here today with the passion and love that I have for the Juventus football club. All I can say from the bottom of my heart is: Thank you for a lifetime of memories, Gigi. Buffon had to make a huge save within the 3’ when a poorly defended Zapata ball against Matthijs De Ligt allowed the striker to make a pass to set up a shot on goal by Palomino. Buffon saved the De Ligt error in the 18’ that potentially could have led to an easy Zapata goal. Buffon chipped another solid save in the 35’ to deny Hateboer an equalizing goal. Malinovsky was able to deliver a deep strike past the entire Juventus defense as well as Buffon for the equalizing goal in the 41’. No better moment to cap Gianluigi Buffon’s Juventus career than to be the final play of the match that saw the keeper collect the ball with a final save to seal the victory. Forza Gigi! Buffon contributed three saves, one punch, two saves from inside of the box, five accurate long balls, and one clearance.
Juan Cuadrado - 6.5
Juan Cuadrado delivered a monster clearance in the 31’ that set up the run and attack by Ronaldo that eventually led to the opening goal scored by Dejan Kulusevski. Cuadrado made a solid header clearance in the 44’ that saved a second potential score by Atalanta attack. Cuadrado delivered a cross in the 48’ in the box for a header attempt by Weston McKennie that went wide of the left post. Cuadrado contributed one clearance, one blocked shot, two interceptions, three tackles, eight ground duels won, one aerial duel won, three key passes, one accurate cross, seven accurate long balls, and two successful dribbles.
Matthijs De Ligt - 6
De Ligt opened the match with a poor sequence of play that saw Zapata and the squad given multiple shots at the goal, one being miraculously saved by Gigi Buffon. De Ligt, attempting to copy McKennie’s poor pass, in the 18’ did the same and almost gave up possession to Zapata in a dangerous field position that veteran Buffon saved. The Dutchman made up for the poor play in the 23’ taking Zapata one-on-one and made the stop in the open field. De Ligt delivered a monster clearance in the 52’ to stop a potential shot by Malinovskyi, but took the brunt of the shot himself with the studs to his leg. De Ligt was penalized with a yellow card in the 40’ for a repeated aggressive defensive struggle with Duvan Zapata. De Ligt contributed two clearances, one blocked shot, three interceptions, three tackles, one error that led to a shot, five ground duels won, four aerial duels won, one accurate long ball, and one shot off target.
Giorgio Chiellini - 6
Chiellini cleared a dangerous ball in the box in the 24’ before an Atalanta player could play it. The defender made a similar header clearance moments later. The Juventus captain received the first booking for the night on a defensive foul against Pessina in the 27’ that resulted in a yellow card. Chiellini contributed four clearances, one interception, five aerial duels won, and five accurate long balls.
Danilo Luiz da Silva - 6
Danilo was the main member of the faulty defensive scheme that allowed the open Malinovskyi shot and score before halftime. Danilo drew a solid yellow card on De Roon in the 87’ during a highly contested and nerve-wracking possession by Atalanta that helped slow the assault. Danilo contributed two clearances, one interception, three tackles, six ground duels won, two aerial duels won, four accurate long balls, one shot on target, and one successful dribble.
Weston McKennie - 6.5
Within the first minute of play, the American gained a strong position with the ball entering the box but decided to play a poorly positioned pass for Cristiano Ronaldo to go fetch to the right of the field position the player was traveling which was all too easily tracked down by the Atalanta defender. McKennie gave up a poor pass in the same vein of Bentancur Porto that failed to make it to Buffon before being picked off by the Atalanta attack in the 12’. Fortunately, the stop by Adrien Rabiot was ruled clean and did not result in a penalty awarded to the team from Bergamo. McKennie had a header attempt on a Cuadrado cross delivered in the 48’ that went wide as the Juventus player went down fairly hard on the collision. McKennie contributed one assist, two key passes, one accurate cross, one accurate long ball, one shot off target, four ground duels won, three aerial duels won, two clearances, two interceptions, and four tackles.
Rodrigo Bentancur - 6
Bentancur attempted a deep shot in the 9’, but was a step too slow and not given enough power thus was easily headed away from the defender in the pathway. The Uruguayan had the quietest game of any player for the match. Bentancur contributed one blocked shot, four ground duels won, four aerial duels won, four interceptions, and four tackles.
Adrien Rabiot - 6
The Frenchman came up huge in a stop of Atalanta’s Pessina following the McKennie give-up an interception in the 12’, which fortunately was not called a penalty to the opposing team in comparison to the officiating witnessed in the Inter match. Rabiot failed on a backpass hitting directly into Cuadrado that led to an Atalanta corner in the 20’. Rabiot was taken down in the 41’, which sparked the momentum from Atalanta that led to the equalizing goal by Malinovskyi. Rabiot contributed one accurate long ball, three successful dribbles, seven ground duels won, two clearances, one interception, and two tackles.
Federico Chiesa - 6.5
Federico Chiesa had a wide-open shot on goal in the 60’ following some creation from Cristiano Ronaldo, but the shot ricocheted off after hitting the right post. Freddy Church made a magnificent finish between the legs of Gollini to score the second goal of the match following some solid footwork and passes back and forth between the Italian and Dejan Kulusevski to work the Atalanta defense in the 73’. Chiesa contributed one goal, one shot on target, one shot off target, one shot that hit the woodwork, one big chance missed, and one ground duel won. Federico Chiesa was substituted off for Paulo Dybala in the 74’.
Dejan Kulusevski - 7.5
I’m not quite sure what Pirlo was thinking when starting Kulusevski yet again alongside Ronaldo in the second striker position. The Swede has been arguably the worst player out of the three to start in the role all season… but not today. (Yes, I wrote this before the match and am going to man up and leave it in. Feel free to roast me.) Kulusevski had a clean run in the 8’ that saw the player driving the ball inside the box, but was left alone without assistance and a last-ditch attempt to pass away to Cuadrado failed to connect. In the 31’ the Swedish player proved everything I said in the opening remarks to be completely incorrect and potentially ignorant. A clearance played by Cuadrado delivered the ball down the field to Kulu, who delivered it to Ronaldo (who appeared to be taken down in the penalty box), eventually recovered by McKennie and back to Kulusevski who took the wide curving shot from the right side of the field and found a way to sneak past Gollini for the opening goal of the match in the 31’. Kulusevski continued to prove me to be a renowned idiot by putting together a spectacular game and delivering the assist to Federico Chiesa in the 73’ to retake the lead. Kulusevski contributed one goal, one assist, two shots on target, one successful dribble, four key passes, two accurate crosses, one big chance created, four ground duels won, and one tackle. Dejan Kulusevski was substituted off for Leonardo Bonucci in the 83’.
Cristiano Ronaldo - 6.5
Ronaldo attempted a free kick in the 17’ that, predictably, was delivered directly into the wall. In the 31’ Cristiano Ronaldo made an attempt at an attack and was taken down inside of the box where the referee failed to acknowledge the occurrence, but was able to deliver the ball back out to Weston McKennie, who would fatefully deliver the assist to Dejan Kulusevski for the score. Ronaldo had a header on goal in the 60’ following a cross from Kulusevski, but Gollini was able to save the shot. Ronaldo went down hard in a clash of a head collision with Juventus-owned loanee Cristian Romero in the 79’ that saw the opposition being penalized with a yellow card. Ronaldo displayed his displeasure with the incident moments later with a shoulder shove to the Atalanta player. Ronaldo contributed two shots on target, four shots blocked, three successful dribbles, one key pass, one big chance created, six ground duels won, three aerial duels won, and one tackle.
Paulo Dybala (↔️ Federico Chiesa) - N/A
Not enough information for rating.
Leonardo Bonucci (↔️ Dejan Kulusevski) - N/A
Not enough information for rating.
Andrea Pirlo - 7
For all the criticism Pirlo has taken this season, he came up in spades today and one of the bigger stages in Italian football. Winning his second trophy for the season (though losing out on the most important one and struggling to even have a chance to make it to UCL) is a solid accomplishment for a first-year coach who, in retrospect, was clearly not ready for the job. He came up big and the game plan to trust in Kulusevski when everything screamed it was not a great decision pre-match, was a gamble that paid off.
Follow Justin Soforo on Twitter @JustinSoforo