It’s no secret that Juventus got off to a brilliant start to the 2021/22 season under Massimiliano Allegri.
They’ve picked up just one point from their first three Serie A games, including a shocking home defeat to newly promoted Empoli. At no point this season have they looked like a confident team that believe they can recapture Inter’s crown.
However, the Champions League opener on Tuesday evening against Malmö offered a chance for Juve, and it is one that they have emphatically taken. Malmö are one of the weakest teams in the tournament this season and apart from a promising first 20 minutes they have always been extremely vulnerable.
This was an opportunity to forget what happened in Italy and get a big win with a stylish performance, build some confidence and then take it with you when it competes against AC Milan this weekend.
Juve got off to a somewhat unsettling start when Malmö pushed them relentlessly and created a couple of half-chances. Fans would have been forgiven for thinking they expected another disappointing performance.
Breakthrough and relief for Allegri
The Juan Cuadrado found some space on the right side and whipped in one of his typical teasing flanks. It escaped everyone in the busy penalty area except for Alex Sandro, who came in with an excellent header.
That goal had a cathartic effect on Juve and they suddenly started moving up on the pitch, remembering that they are by far the more superior team on the pitch. Paulo Dybala started to bond very well with Alvaro Morata and Rodrigo Bentancur started making some very effective forward attacks from midfield.
Morata struggled with a couple of equations to keep his run and it looked like he’d failed again when he got behind the Malmö defense and was pulled into the box by Lasse Nielsen. A penalty was awarded and a VAR check confirmed that he had indeed timed his run perfectly. Despite a slip, Dybala converted the penalty to 2-0 in the 45th minute.
Just a minute later, Morata managed to get a ball forward from Rabiot and toss the ball over the Malmö keeper. That was the last kick of halftime and it could have been the last kick of the game.
Malmö knew their race was over, but they haven’t lost discipline. Juve looked confident and it was clear that Dybala and Morata were enjoying working together at the top. Even if they didn’t score, the Bianconeri looked like a happy team that didn’t use up too much energy during the night.
This was by no means an elite feat that suggested Juve could go far in the competition, but it was exactly what the players and Allegri needed after incredibly tough weeks.