It is no secret at all that Juventus have had a torrid start to the 2021/22 season under Massimiliano Allegri.
They’ve taken just one point from the first three Serie A fixtures, which included a shocking home defeat to newly-promoted Empoli. At no point this season have they looked like a confident team that believes they can snatch the crown back from Inter.
Tuesday evening’s Champions League opener against Malmo presented an opportunity for Juve though, and it’s one they took emphatically. Malmo are one of the weakest sides in the tournament this season and apart from a promising first 20 minutes, they were always extremely vulnerable.
This was a chance to forget what was going on back in Italy and record a big win with a stylish performance, build some confidence, and then take it back with them for when they face AC Milan this weekend.
Juve made a slightly worrying start as Malmo pressed them relentlessly and created a couple of half-chances. Fans would have been forgiven for thinking they were in for another disappointing display.
A breakthrough and relief for Allegri
The Juan Cuadrado found some space down the right-hand side and whipped in one of his trademark teasing crosses. It evaded everyone in the busy penalty area except for Alex Sandro who arrived with an excellent diving header.
That goal had a cathartic effect on Juve, and they suddenly started to move up the pitch and remember that they are by far the more superior side on the pitch. Paulo Dybala began to link very well with Alvaro Morata, and Rodrigo Bentancur starting to make some very effective bursts forward from midfield.
Morata had struggled to hold his run on a couple of equations and it looked as if he had failed again as he got behind the Malmo defence and was dragged down in the box by Lasse Nielsen. A penalty was awarded and a VAR check confirmed that he had actually timed his run to perfection. Despite a slip, Dybala converted the penalty to make it 2-0 in the 45th minute.
Just a minute later, Morata managed to get on the end of a ball forward from Rabiot and lofted the ball over the Malmo keeper. That was the last kick of the half and it may as well have been the last kick of the game.
Malmo knew their race was run but to their credit, they didn’t lose discipline. Juve looked confident and it was clear that Dybala and Morata were enjoying linking together up top. Even though no goals came from it, the Bianconeri looked like a happy team who didn’t use up too much energy on the night.
This was by no means an elite performance that suggested Juve can go far in the competition, but it was exactly what the players and Allegri needed after an incredibly tough few weeks.