A game-changing injury or a poor substitution?

Lazio’s 3-1 win over Juventus was one of the more remarkable Serie A games I have seen recently. For the first hour Juve took the game to the hosts and were completely on top. The interchange of positions, crisp passing and fantastic movement were topped off by an excellent team goal to put the Bianconeri deservedly ahead. Then Rodrigo Bentancur got injured and Maurizio Sarri put on Emre Can in the Uruguayan’s plance. The game completely changed, Lazio got a foothold and crucially got the vital equalizer on the stroke of halftime. On resumption, Juve looked like a team of strangers and never threatened. Lazio deservedly won.

The question that Sarri has to ask as he ponders his first defeat as Juve boss, was whether he made the right choice in bringing Can on or was Bentancur so inspired that no other midfielder could match him on the day? That neither Miralem Pjanic nor Blaise Matuidi were able to shoulder responsibility will be cause for concern and the fact that the manager hasn’t yet been able to inspire Adrien Rabiot to reach standards that are expected at Juve is also troubling. I still think Juve made the right choice in appointing Sarri to develop a more progressive style of football. But why is it that after a brilliant month of aggressive football in October, Sarri’s team is starting to resemble Allegri’s version from last year? The key could be the pedestrain midfield. Without that base playing well, it’s going to be hard for Sarri’s revolution to take off.

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