Sassuolo Hold Juventus, Bianconeri Surrender Top Spot

Sassuolo’s first point ever at the Allianz Stadium has the face of 18-year-old Stefano Turati, the first goalkeeper born after 2000 to debut in Serie A. His brilliant entrance, which helped Roberto De Zerbi’s side to preserve a precious 2-2 tie against Juventus, reminded the one made by Gianluigi Buffon 23 years ago against Milan (6 years before Turati was born, just to put things in perspective)

Today, Buffon was defending the opposite net at the age of 41. Maurizio Sarri chose him in place of Wojciech Szczesny to guard the Bianconeri’s goal, but the Gigi Nazionale surprisingly betrayed him as he gift-wrapped Sassuolo’s second goal. A blunder the could have costed Juventus much, had Cristiano Ronaldo not equalized for his side from the penalty spot, and that in any case forced Juventus to surrender the top position in the Serie A table to Inter.

One year ago, CR7 had found his first Serie A goal against the Neroverdi. On Sunday, he hit the back of the net after a 385-minute drought, but once again – as it often happened in the latest weeks – appeared apathetic, disconnected from the game, and ultimately not happy.

That is a problem for Maurizio Sarri, whose new incarnation of the Bianconeri has been far from convincing in many occasions so far. The former Napoli and Chelsea Comandante seems to be struggling to leave his mark on Juventus’ play, as he continues to juggle with Paulo Dybala and Gonzalo Higuain – the two Argentinian internationals forced to fight for one place next to the seemingly untouchable five-time Ballon d’Or despite both being in tip-top shape.  

Sarri is also insisting in alternating his two goalkeepers, a turnover which is doing no good to either Szczesny or Buffon – though being forced to do so by the Italian’s contract which dictates a minimum eight seasonal caps for Gigi, enough to make him surpass Paolo Maldini in the all-time table for the most Serie A appearances. 

Gonzalo Higuain, once again among the most positives from the Bianconeri, challenged by Sassuolo’s defender Marlon Santos

And so, Roberto De Zerbi and his Sassuolo side took advantage of the Bianconeri’s Hamletic doubts to score a golden point. They came to Turin preceded by an ill-famed reputation of being particularly “lenient” whenever facing the Old Lady, but this time they rather shocked the home side despite having to lineup their youth club goalkeeper in view of the concomitant forfeit of Andrea Consigli and Gianluca Pegolo.    

The match at the Allianz Stadium however seemed destined to its usual outcome as Miralem Pjanic served Gonzalo Higuain early in the game: El Pipita harpooned the ball and fired it towards the opposition net to no avail, but sent a clear warning sign to the black-and-greens.

In the 20th minute, Leonardo Bonucci found the lucky spot with his right foot, after receiving a pass by Rodrigo Bentancur for Juventus’ expected 1-0.

The Old Lady’s lead lasted only two minutes however, as Jeremie Boga levelled for De Zerbi’s side with a delightful chip to put the ball past Juventus’ veteran goalkeeper.

Sassuolo’s second goal, which came just two minutes after the break, was a horror show on the part of the Bianconeri defense, with Matthijs De Ligt, awfully served by Juan Cuadrado, failing a defensive clearance and delivering the ball right on Francesco Caputo’s foot.

Caputo is a seasoned striker with 144 goals on his back. You don’t want to put him in condition to shot easily. Sassuolo’s number 9’s volley was all but resistible, but Gianluigi Buffon completed the catastrophe with a huge blunder as he fumbled the ball into the net.

We f***ed up three times in the same action,“ Maurizio Sarri eventually commented on the visitors’ goal with admirable conciseness. Juventus’ coach promptly took remedial action by sending in Paulo Dybala for Federico Bernardeschi in the 54th minute. Once again, he got his change right as the Argentinian would put his decisive stamp in the action that led to the Bianconeri’s final equalizer. 

A brilliant save by Sassuolo goalkeeper Stefano Turati, who made his senior debut at 18 to steal the scene at the Allianz Stadium and help his side snatch a precious away tie

Before that, however, a free-kick by Ronaldo had found a brilliant deflection by the Neroverdi’s young goalkeeper. In his first post-match remarks ever, Stefano Turati commented, his voice broken with emotion, that that was the most difficult save of the day. Picture this: You are 18 years old, you are making your Serie A debut, your team is awarded a free-kick against, and along comes Cristiano Ronaldo to position the ball for the conversion. Whew.

Turati stole the spotlight again a few minutes later as he stopped a close-range tap-in by Gonzalo Higuain. However, he couldn’t do anything when facing again CR7, this time from the penalty spot. Referee Federico La Penna awarded Paulo Dybala a penalty in the 68th minute as defender Filippo Romagna cut him down in the box, and the Genius of Madeira buried the spot to end his unusual abstinence from scoring. 

A late challenge by Aaron Ramsey saw Sassuolo’s keeper adding another feather to his debut cap, as he deflected the Welshman’s shot before blocking it right on the goal line to preserve the visitors’ away point.

The game ended with the baby goalkeeper being hugged and complimented by Gianluigi Buffon, who must have flown back with his memory to that day of 1995 when he kept Roberto Baggio and George Weah at bay in the day of his debut. “You did great today,” he told Turati.

The same could not be said about him, and about the whole Juventus squad.  


December 1, 2019 – Serie A 2019-2020 Round 14

SCORERS: 20′ Bonucci (J), 22′ Boga (S), 47′ Caputo (S), 68′ Cristiano Ronaldo (J, pen.)

JUVENTUS (4-3-1-2): Buffon; Cuadrado, Bonucci, Rugani, Alex Sandro; Emre Can (54′ Matuidi), Pjanic, Bentancur; Bernardeschi (53′ Dybala); Higuain (79′ Ramsey), Cristiano Ronaldo (Szczesny, Pinsoglio, De Sciglio, Rugani, Demiral, Danilo) Coach: Sarri
SASSUOLO (4-2-3-1): Turati; Toljan, Marlon, Romagna, Kyriakopoulos; Locatelli, Magnanelli; Djuricic (72′ Muldur), Traoré (62′ Duncan), Boga; Caputo (Russo, Pegolo, Peluso, Piccinini, Tripaldelli, Ghion, Mazzitelli, Obiang, Bourabia, Raspadori) Coach: De Zerbi

REFEREE: Mr. La Penna from Rome
NOTES: Yellow Cards: Pjanic (J), Djuricic, De Zerbi, Locatelli, Toljan, Kiriakopoulos, Muldur (S); Extra Time: 1st Half 0′, 2nd Half 4′