Juventus in Champions League form with Higuain and Pjanic
Juventus’ two prized acquisitions were on full display in a convincing 3-1 win over Sassuolo in Serie A on Saturday
Juventus’ two prized acquisitions were on full display in a convincing 3-1 win over Sassuolo in Serie A on Saturday.
Gonzalo Higuain scored twice in the opening 10 minutes and Miralem Pjanic added another before the break as the Bianconeri warmed up for a Champions League it has designs on winning.
“Everyone says Juve will win everything - the league, Cup and the Champions League. But that hurts us, because we lose perspective,” Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri said. “We’ve got to play the matches and win them on the pitch.”
Higuain and Pjanic were each making their first starts for Juventus after transferring from rivals Napoli and Roma, respectively.
Higuain’s move broke the Italian transfer fee record at 90 million euros ($100 million) after scoring 36 times last season to break a 66-year-old Serie A mark for goals scored in a single season.
Pjanic, the crafty Bosnia play-maker, arrived for a more modest 32 million euros ($36 million).
Higuain’s new partnership with fellow Argentina forward Paulo Dybala didn’t take long to function. Five minutes in, Dybala provided the through ball for Higuain to finish off a counterattack with an angled shot inside the far post.
Five minutes later, Higuain produced an acrobatic effort to redirect in a headed pass from Sami Khedira.
“The partnership with Dybala is improving. But I just got here. We’ve got time,” Higuain said. “I’m really happy to have come here.”
Pjanic’s first goal of the season came following a rebound of his own shot off the crossbar.
It wasn’t all perfect, though.
Goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon came up empty handed when he leaped to grab a corner, allowing Sassuolo’s Luca Antei to score when the ball bounced off his feet.
It marked the second time Juventus has conceded a goal from a corner this season, after conceding two all of last season.
Still, Juventus has a full nine points from the opening three rounds as it aims to become the first club to win Serie A for six consecutive years.
Napoli, last season’s runner-up, is two points behind in second place after a 3-0 win at Palermo.
On Wednesday, Juventus hosts Sevilla in the Champions League aiming to improve on its runner-up finish from 2015.
Compared to two years ago, Allegri has a much deeper squad to choose from. Among those who started on the bench were standouts such as Mario Mandzukic, Dani Alves,Patrice Evra, Juan Cuadrado, Hernanes, and Andrea Barzagli.
Sassuolo was the revelation of Serie A last season, finishing sixth, but has won just one of its opening three matches in this campaign. The club from near Modena was missing its star forward, Domenico Berardi, who was injured.