BLOG ITALIA
Sunday December 23 2012
Black and White Christmas

There's no doubt Juventus are on Santa's list of those who've been good in 2012, though there wasn't much goodwill to go round, as Giancarlo Rinaldi wraps up Serie A Week 18.

Keep a close eye on your chimney this Christmas. With the Scudetto in the summer, a comfortable lead in their title defence, a place in the last 16 of the Champions League and a record-breaking 94 points over 12 months, it has been a stunning year for Juventus. So don’t be too surprised if you catch Santa Claus in black and white stripes when he delivers your presents in a couple of days’ time.

Not that there was much goodwill in the Bianconeri’s Friday night triumph over Cagliari in a tie controversially played at the Stadio Ennio Tardini in Parma. A few dozen “home” fans were easily drowned out by both Juventini from the environs of Emilia Romagna and the bellowed instructions of Antonio Conte. The final outcome was harder for the Sardinians to digest than a hefty festive dinner.

“I’m disgusted by this football, I don’t want anything more to do with it,” lamented Rossoblu President Massimo Cellino. “We played a team that has not acted in a sporting manner. Last year they asked us to move the game to the evening because they were fighting for the title, this time they refused to come to Cagliari.”

“The league took the decision not us,” responded Beppe Marotta for the Bianconeri. “If we had to play this game elsewhere it wasn’t our fault but Cagliari’s, as they don’t have a ground up to the standard of holding this kind of match.” In other words, not much festive cheer in evidence.

The result put Conte’s men streets ahead of their rivals. With Juve’s “special agent” Ciro Immobile helping Genoa to secure a 1-1 draw with Inter in Saturday’s lunchtime match, their lead became even more consolidated at eight points. The Nerazzurri’s creative problems without Wesley Sneijder were there for all to see - although Marko Livaja contrived to miss a match-winning chance that will give him nightmares into the New Year.

“This break has come at the right moment, we’re having a tough time,” said Andrea Stramaccioni. “But now we’ll switch off and come back stronger than before. Everything is in place for us to have a great 2013.”

That draw allowed Lazio to leapfrog the Milanese giants into second place on their own, but still eight points adrift of the league leaders. The “slap” provided by Delio Rossi’s arrival at Sampdoria was not enough to see them deny the capital club. A single Hernanes strike, with a celebratory somersault, gave the Romans three precious points.

“We’ve worked hard for this and the last month or so we’ve started to believe we can achieve something special,” said Vlad Petkovic. “This Lazio side has done well - but not well enough to compete with Juve. We need to improve in every part of our play. This break will allow us to recharge the batteries and try to get better day by day.”

Fiorentina, too, moved up the table to join Inter in third. The constant chopping and changing in Palermo appears to have taken its toll on a side which seems to be about as appealing to its own fans as a giant bowl of Brussels sprouts. With Stevan Jovetic starting to return to form - he struck a double - the Viola sparkled too much for the Sicilians, who apologised to their own support at the final whistle of a 3-0 defeat.

“I don’t think there are many teams in Italy with a better midfield than ours,” said Florentine hitman Luca Toni. “We used to miss the chances they created, now we are taking them.”

There was a morale-boosting win for Napoli, too, as Siena - like Sampdoria - found that a new manager is no panacea. There was a lot of pent-up frustration in Christian Maggio’s celebrations when he broke the deadlock before Edinson Cavani guaranteed the points. It was the perfect present after their two-point deduction and loss of Paolo Cannavaro and Gianluca Grava due to match-betting sentences.

“This was a very important win,” admitted midfield motor Marek Hamsik. “We have always had great team spirit, but today we put our heart into the game and fought hard and took three points.”

All the teams giving distant chase to Juve will be looking over their shoulders, however, after Roma ripped up the Milan revival in Saturday’s night game. A couple of late consolation strikes should not mask the Rossoneri’s deficiencies, nor the qualities of this Giallorosso side. Zdenek Zeman’s men are a crazy bunch, but their 4-2 triumph underlined that they are capable of going on a tear which could see them rocket up the table.

When they are on-song, there is simply no more spectacular side to watch than Francesco Totti and company. As pundit Giancarlo Marocchi put it, “Roma are made to score goals, sometimes they concede goals - but they always entertain.” If they can get their focus right, they can easily sweep into second place.

“We’ve made up a lot of points from where we were 10 games ago,” insisted Max Allegri, trying to give Milan’s performance a positive spin. “We will try to finish the first half of the season on 30 points and then have a great second half of the campaign.”

“I am pleased with the way the team played - especially in the first half,” responded Zeman. “In the second half, maybe we tried to take it easier - and we can’t do that.” The subtext was that he expects his team to take the initiative and impose its style of play for the entirety of a game.

The most significant moves in the lower reaches came from Pescara and Torino with vital wins over Catania and Chievo respectively to help them enjoy their Christmas dinners a little more. But with plenty of teams still within touching distance of the drop zone, nobody should despair just yet. Maybe Santa will bring them a year like the one Juventus have just enjoyed.

Think you know your Italian football? Share your knowledge, tips and comments to win cash prizes in OLBG's tipster competition - £5,000 monthly.

Have your say...
i would prefer matri to start every game with gio tbh vucinec don't do anything for me i watched over the years and i don't see the hype about him i think hes overrated and doesn't get himself into enough scoring positions matri is by far the most complete striker juventus have how bendtner got ahead of him is astounding id play him week in week out with gio because he is the only player with any pace i would at least give matri a run of 5 or 6 games tp see if he starts scoring.
on the 31st December, 2012 at 4:43pm
All i am saying is that so far all combinations of forwards we used without Vucinic seemed to be lacking ideas & were rarely inspiring up front. if you have watched our games without him you must have realized that more times than not we had to bring him in as a sub to change the game in our favor.

Now... What you prefer & what we have available are two different things, currently we need a player like him and weather you like it or not he is all we have.

Also he is not used as a target man.
on the 30th December, 2012 at 2:45am
1. I didn't say when he is on his game, i said when he is in the game, meaning on the field actually playing.
2. Yes i don't disagree with you that he is lazy & that his passing is abysmal at times. But be realistic look at the statistic & honestly tell me how many times has he come off the bench and changed the game in our favor.
3. Look i see you are not a fan of his & I'm not trying to change your opinion.
Continue...
on the 30th December, 2012 at 2:10am
yoiur joking right when he is on hes game !!!!! when is that 1 in 10 not good enough at this level you need to be on your game every week not like him hardly ever he is the laziest player in the team and i don't agree with the reference point i personally want players running in behind defenders especially with pirlo in the team picking the pass which he is capable of doing target man football died in the 80s vucinec also slows every juventus attack down to a walking pace not good enough.
on the 29th December, 2012 at 12:26pm
@Paul,

I agree with you that Vucinic is lazy & his passing sometimes resembles a butchers work on a cow. But there is no debate that when Vucinic is in the game the entire team & especially the attack seems to play a lot better, simply put they are more potent.

All the forwards that play for Juve need Vucinic as a reference point in order to do well the statistics prove it & it's no coincidence that when he is on the bench we lack ideas & rarely have ideas on how to break a defense down.
on the 29th December, 2012 at 9:34am
he contributes are few and far between he plays when he feels like it which is not often quag matri and giovinco put alot more effort in than vucinec and matri by far gets himself into more scoring opportunities than any of the other three.i think hes attitude is awful as well tbh it wouldn't bother me if juventus got rid of him
on the 28th December, 2012 at 6:21pm
You just know people like mikesaba have no knowledge of Italian football let alone football in genial if they make stupid comments like that and i couldn't agree more with Moh
on the 28th December, 2012 at 1:33am
Mirko is a vital member of the team and squad. His hold up play and the way he brings other players into the game is vital to the formation Conte deploys allowing the wing-backs and Marchisio and Vidal to drive into the box. He is an inigma, frustrating at times, but some of his assists are world class. His control and back heel for Lichtsteiner's winner at Palermo was simply breathtaking. Conte's Juventus is all about the team and Mirko has shown he is a real selfless team player.
on the 27th December, 2012 at 8:43pm
@the old lady

very true.. but im trying to focus on what happend during the last 5-8 years and not 15.. However Juve are superior no doubt. last season was different tho and it was way more even... and the season before that we won..
on the 27th December, 2012 at 6:55pm
mirko is the laziest striker out there im sorry he gives the ball away cheap never tries to get it back and if the ball doesn't come with in 6 inches of him he wont move for it, i would play matri all day long hes the only forward who wants to run the channels and actually make defenders face towards their own goal.he also wants to run in behind which none of the others do quag does sometime but for me matri should start every game
on the 27th December, 2012 at 3:35pm
Most people don't understand Mirko's contribution to the team, he is one of the important player for Juventus this year. Conte knew he need player who can hold ball and to create spaces for other striker and midfielder to score goal.
on the 27th December, 2012 at 2:32pm
@Victor "acm are always on top 3 and same cant be said about juve"

well acm have also gone through periods where they are not top 3 in the past 10-15 yrs (97-98,96-97,00-01,01-02,06-07,07-08 & 12-13?) like juve(98/99,09/10,10/11).
juve "top 3" record > acm in same period.

i think juve has been in top 3,top 2 more times in serie a history than milan have.

but who care about finishing 2nd,3rd cos the real achievement is in league titles (28/30 whatever) and that's where this conversation end
on the 27th December, 2012 at 12:55pm
@moostafa

"Or you're just trying to keep the subject away from it ?" hmmm, what does that even mean? Away from what lol. Thought santa been nice to you and gave you rosetta stone for xmas. Obviously that didnt occur. Listen son, ac milan been my team way before you were born. Our team is rebuilding. We have a few fantastic players and more to come in jan.. At least acm are always up in top 3 spots... Cant say that bout juve. I dont mind competition. Good for italian football.
on the 27th December, 2012 at 9:25am
Forza Viola, if Jovetic stable not injured until last match this season, Fiorentina could be the contender for Juve to reach scudetto, for sure!!!
on the 25th December, 2012 at 10:33am
@ Viktoria

Have you switched teams recently? Or you're just trying to keep the subject away from it ?

"mediocre"

Look at your team, you will understand what that word means.
on the 24th December, 2012 at 6:15pm
inter beat juve easily even though they had bought the ref

juve will win the leave because they are a damn good team

but inters first year under the strama project has got off to a great start
on the 24th December, 2012 at 5:47pm
@Viktor

I would like to apologize to you regarding my previous post, i misunderstood your comments. I believe you were talking about the players complaining and not the supporters.

I also agree that Milan have a young team but they need to go shopping in January if they want to challenge for the CL spots come May. What they showed against Roma was not Milan worthy and they can't play like that against Barca.
on the 24th December, 2012 at 4:55pm
@jimi

dude youre pathetic. anyone who cant accept the ridiculous gulf of difference between juve and the rest of the league is just as deluded as stramacioni. napoli fiorentina roma and lazio are all better than inter, so how could he compare his team to us and himself to mourinho is a joke. all pens awarded against juve this season are non existent..including the one on milito outside of the box. but hey a call against juve is always a good call for the haters and one for juve is a scandal.
on the 24th December, 2012 at 12:29pm
@manny

leave milan out or it. Br happy at juves succes without trash talking milan. Before roma game we've won 5 in a row. Keep in mind milan have a very very young team.
Give them some time.. Glad to see juve back from years of mediocre performances. Italy needs more then inter and milan.
on the 24th December, 2012 at 11:22am
And here I was waiting for the usual suspects like BOSS, Sarcasm & Rosario to come out of the closet but instead they sent their minions to do their job when it comes to blasting Juventus.

Oh well its the usual story from the haters, Juve buy refs & cheat & steal & now recently influenced the FIGC to change venue which will suit them LoL. I wished I was as creative at fictional stories & theories as these deluded people...
on the 24th December, 2012 at 10:46am
Paul - I couldn't agree with you more there I think vucinic is very lazy out there and matri and qaug's are brilliant strikers who need more than just 30mins on a pitch, I'd love to sell vucinic+paodin tbh

Mikesaba- haha ur so pathetic, were talking about juventus doing brilliant not winning the scudetto yet, but milan are failing cause they can't keep hold of there players and have a terrible defence as roma demonstarted in the last game!
on the 24th December, 2012 at 9:57am
@mikesaba: who cares?? when the referee made a mistake in favor of juve, it's a controversy.. he must be bought!! When they made mistakes and cost juve points, noone opened their mouths because it's normal.. they're just human, mistakes happened!!

We do not care what you think, been sick with unfair news and opinions about juve.
on the 24th December, 2012 at 6:27am
Lol @ mikesaba

Still failing to acknowledge that juve are a pretty good team like most commentators all over Europe believe.

Haha at your luck and ref decision reasoning for juve being decent because as that is obviously why juve are achieving success. Not cos they have a good motivator and coach in conte and very good personal and team chemistry . No it has to be ref decisions as usual as the sole reason . Listen to yourself .

Its not juve's fault Milan & inter arent stepping it up! Doh!
on the 24th December, 2012 at 12:28am
Rinaldi! if Santa comes to me wearing Black & White, I would kick his **S real good! And listen to you, as if Juventus has won the Scudetto! I am surprised at you, I thought you are much intelligent! Juve is winning through luck and favoritism from refs. And if Inter-Milan & Milan are in excellent form, Juve will be experiencing tough times.
on the 23rd December, 2012 at 10:49pm
personally and Ive said this before matri is the most natural striker juventus have hes had a bad run but at the very least hes in the right positions to miss,i think if he gets a run of games he will score goals hes positioning sense is better than the others hes a poacher i think he should start more games i think if he gets a run of 5 8 games he will score goals i dont understand how conte over looks him more than the others vucinec has played awful in numerous games this year
on the 23rd December, 2012 at 10:05pm
@the sarcastic anonymous

Hahahaha!

Keep believing that because that's obviously why juve are resurgent again. It can't possibly be because of a combination of new stadium, astute management and transfer strategy , fantastic coach and new stadium not to mention everyone else is so inconsistent .
No it's because juve are "at it again" buying refs. That's the reason obviously and they should be punished severely ie banned forever without legitimate proof.

I have seen the light !!!!!!!
on the 23rd December, 2012 at 8:39pm
It's nice to see that after a short hiatus (from around 2006) Father Christmas has started awarding precious little gifts to the honest Juventini all year long.
on the 23rd December, 2012 at 7:09pm
Juventus' last three league games tells you everything you need to know about Conte's team. A solid 1-0 win at, Palermo, blowing Atalanta away within half-an-hour which allowed them to coast the rest of the match and conserve energy, energy that we needed to go right to the end to beat Cagliari. So pleased for Alessandro Matri, he deserved it for his never say die attitude. That's 35 goals now from the 5 forwards, not bad for a team who don't have a "top striker".
on the 23rd December, 2012 at 6:44pm
@paul

Agree, Capello at juve didn't allow juve to be as expansive as they could have been especially when you look at the talent at his disposal but he still created a super team and you can't really be upset with 2 scudetto on the trot under his term ( although revoked).

However with the team he had cant believe he couldn't get past Liverpool and arsenal in the champions league. Definitely underachieved in that competition.

Hopefully conte can get ucl right. So far so good!
on the 23rd December, 2012 at 5:17pm
@juvefantastico

never said your lead have anything to do with favorable calls from ref.. However, when you have players like lichsteiner that every single call complains it gets rather doll..like i said no need your still superior.. For now
on the 23rd December, 2012 at 5:16pm

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