Juventus showed the steely resolve long associated with them over the past decade to earn a come-from-behind 3-1 win over Lazio on Saturday, keeping their Scudetto hopes alive.
With their stranglehold on Serie A in danger of being released by runaway leaders Inter this season, the Bianconeri showed that they were not ready to roll over and allow their bitter rivals an easy ride in ending a nine year run of successive titles.
Victory at the Allianz Stadium saw Juventus move seven points behind Inter after 25 matches, with the Nerazzurri facing a difficult clash against Atalanta on Monday evening. Despite looking out of the Scudetto equation only a few short weeks ago, a galvanising second half display against Lazio could yet prove the catalyst for fightback in the title race.
Whilst Inter remain the favourites to go on to win the league this year, Juventus ramped up the pressure on Antonio Conte’s side and reduced the margin for error going into the final stretch of the campaign.
Meanwhile, Pirlo proved that there is life at Juventus without Cristiano Ronaldo after the Portuguese forward was not deemed fit enough to start against Lazio. It looked as though the absence of their talisman would prove costly, but a stirring second half fightback will go someway towards quelling suggestions of over-reliance on him.
Similarly, a return to form of Morata after a lengthy illness cost him his sharpness bodes well for the run in, and the Spaniard looked back to his best with a wonderfully taken goal, having previously shown good awareness to set up Rabiot.
The Bianconeri now have manageable fixtures against Cagliari, Benevento and the Derby della Mole against Torino coming up, with an opportunity to build some momentum and offer a real challenge to Inter.
With AC Milan faltering, the Nerazzurri know that it will take something special to shake the perennial champions off. If Juventus are still in the equation come the penultimate day of the season, when they welcome Inter to the Allianz Stadium, then all bets are off.