Juventus had no room for error tonight. The day after Inter’s victory in the derby against AC Milan, the Bianconeri were 11 points behind their rival, but also two games less, including the reception of Crotone on Monday at the Allianz Stadium. After two defeats in Serie A in Napoli and in the Champions League in Porto, another setback would have seriously damaged Pirlo’s credit. The coach aligned his 4-4-2 without real surprise since Morata, still reduced, started on the bench. It was Kulusevski who was associated with Ronaldo. Demiral teamed up with De Ligt in central defense and again it was Bentancur, McKennie and Ramsey who started with Chiesa.
For this 250th in their stadium, the Turinese were very nearly cold picked. Adam Ounas’ Crotone, titular this evening with Di Carmine, had not come as a simple foil. In his first minutes, the visitors intelligently used the leather in the midfield and obtained a very interesting first situation by Reca (6th). After this fear, Juventus took a good ten minutes to enter their match and settled into a form of sterile domination. The Squali looked even better until Cristiano decided otherwise. After a huge opportunity missed by the Portuguese (28th) and a dangerous recovery from De Ligt (33rd), he perfectly cut Alex Sandro’s cross to open the scoring (1-0, 39th).
Silent since February 6, the five-time Ballon d’Or finally rectified the situation, joining Lukaku at the top of the ranking of Serie A top scorers. He even took the lead because after an attempt by the stirring Chiesa (44th), Ronaldo put Cordaz to work but in the continuity of the action, he flew into the air to score his 18th goal in the league (2-0, 45th + 1). Led by a break at the break, the mission promised to be delicate for the Calabrians. However, they returned from the locker room with offensive inclinations, like the free kick on target from Vulic (47th) and then from this missed shot from Messias (49th). Still, it took more to destabilize an Old Lady sure of her strength.
Twice, Crotone’s defense resisted Ronaldo, to whom the VAR refused a penalty (64th), and Campaz the treble (66th). It was finally the young American McKennie who widened the lead of Juventus with a strong shot following a corner (3-0, 67th). Pirlo took advantage of this advantage to offer their first appearance to youngsters Nicolo Fagioli and Alessandro Di Pardo. Juve did not relax, however. Against the penalty spot, Ramsey was awkward in front of goal (75th). Author of a good entry, Morata hit him above (77th), while Chiesa did not improve on the good work of the Spaniard (80th). The Piedmontese could have been more clinical but this authoritarian success gives confidence and offers a jump of three places in the standings.