Szczeseny – Perhaps could have done better on the goal yet it was hit with some power. Distribution sloppy to poor throughout. 5.5
Bonucci – Held the rearguard line well enough though his whining irritates me as does his lack of choosing the right time to step out from defence. At one stage I saw him starting to feign injury when the issue was that he had lost his boot. Pathetic. 5.5
Danilo – Perhaps our most steady performer in the backline as kept it simple in the air and on the ground, made some useful tackles and tried to keep the ball moving forward swiftly. 6.5
Demiral – Beastly in the challenge, if still a little over zealous and fortunate not to receive a yellow on several occasions. His pace, timing, bravery and strength are quickly becoming major assets for the side. Now we just need for him and De Ligt to form the partnership we all hope to see as our future backbone. 7
Juan – Dangerous in patches, solid in the defensive phase, he really has become a quite decent RWB. His positional sense and duty, coupled with the trickery he often shows in the final third makes him one of our most threatening, even key players, so far this term. Unlucky not to score when thundering a shot against the underside of the bar from a rare moment of cohesive attacking play from the home side. 7.5
Rabiot – Adept at recovery, at driving forward from deep, winning headers, shielding the ball but what else? He is allergic to the 18 yard box and playing with Arthur who seems to move in short, neat circles and never ventures to add threat in the area – its too industrious. Decent showing, but I am starting to see him as mainly a mobile, strong DM. 6.5
Arthur – Early signs are far from overwhelming. The brazillian still needs time to find his form, and yet does not appear poor by any means. A high functioning recycling machine of the ball, able to do that job even intelligently and swiftly in our own rearguard region. He is a counter-pressing specialist but what else? I have seen little beyond short, quick, simple passing, which is helping us out of defensive bother but adding little to the barren creativity front. 6
Freddy B – So low down the scale of talent, value to the side, offering anything at all that we could use…I sincerely rank Bernardeschi below Sami Swine now. Truth be told, I have long felt this way. Whatever has happened to him, we must cut him loose, help him to find a club closer to his level, perhaps Gozzano to help with their promotion push in Serie D? Or I could make some calls and see if Big Steve would give him a chance at my beloved Gills in League one back home. Anywhere but Juve. His most telling contribution was setting up Verona for the break which led to their goal. 3.5
Ramsey – A different player this season. Dynamic, involved, confident and making constant runs across the defence and into great positions. Still feel that he is a little unsure of his position, as a few others also demonstrate, but his form is high level and he looks likely to create chances every time he plays. 6.5
Poor lad was off the pace, but I am glad Pirlo decided to flog him through this one until he showed some sparks of life. Which almost worked a treat as he went close on several occasions in the latter part of the game, after spending the first half and a little beyond rolling around too much with every tackle, showing good spirit but off the pace. Could have found himself on the score sheet with a little more accuracy. Great to see him slowly moving through the gears. 6
Toiled and tried to adjust to yet another major change in his supporting cast and his goal cruelly yet rightly ruled out for offside was a thing of beauty and confidence. He is already surprising a few people and long may it continue as he is likely to improve as (if?) the team gains cohesion. 6.5
Made a difference as soon as he was on the field. It was his direct, skillful running that turned the tide in our favour and he deserved probably more than the goal which drew us level – which came of course from his natural RWF position. Unfortunately Pirlo seems likely to persist with this system of playing specialist final third wide men as hybrid wing backs which will mean the issues associated of huge gaps behind them will continue. The big Swede will shine wherever you put him, but always more brightly in the final third, and must surely be a starter against Barca. 8
Appeared in a more defensive role than in previous outings but was solid and comfortable, looking to spring the ball forward and support whenever possible. The decision to start Freddy B instead of Frabrotta appalled me. 6.5
I do not like the system. So far it has not led to any games beyond the opener v Samp where we have looked comfortable and cohesive. Much of this can of course be put down to the absentees, but I still cannot help but feel that Pirlo is trying to shoe-horn the side into his system rather than build a system to get the best out of this team.
Why start Freddy instead of Kulu or Frabrotta? Both of whom have looked hugely superior.
If Kulu is going to get regular playing time, it will likely be as a winger, then what of Chiesa? If both play we have zero defensive talent or experience on the flanks which leaves holes for opponents to exploit.
A double pivot is great through the middle but is very easily bypassed if there is no cover either side out wide.
At least the subs made sense, which is encouraging and now our new Mister faces a dilemma of sorts for the Barca tie with Bonucci possibly out injured. Should be okay with Danilo in the middle, Demiral and Frabrotta supporting flanking him, yet what if any of them are crippled…
What was impressive was how much we changed after going a goal down. Suddenly a switch was flipped. We went on the offensive as Verona camped in their rearguard often with ten behind the ball. Chance after chance was created, and yet we were thwarted when clinging with more zeal for the victory which our performance for the first 60 minutes hardly warranted.
To be fair, given we hit the bar twice, created at least 3 or 4 other great chances and had a beautiful goal chalked off for a very tight offside call…it would be wrong to say we are in dire straits and the system is failing miserably. It is not, and who can say if this will not all come together perfectly in a few months…? We will not know until the squad has had more time together and is more complete.
A few points off the summit domestically does not worry me at this stage of the season as we will certainly improve.
In Europe we now face Barcelona, a game which should prove wonderful nourishment for the players as the strongest test we have faced so far comes to town. A fine or even satisfactory result in this tie could kickstart the momentum we are yet to find.
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