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Monday January 21 2013
Everybody loves Juventus

Juventus’ win and their rivals’ stuttering meant that the Italian champions were the big winners again this weekend. Giancarlo Rinaldi wraps up the Week 21 action.

It might not have been a perfect weekend for Juventus, but it sure came pretty close. A thumping win over Udinese and none of the rest of the top six managed a victory. A stuttering start to 2013 was clearly just the sound of a finely-tuned engine backfiring, not one about to burst into flames.

It is the hallmark of champions that they respond to any mini-crisis with a big performance and Juve's came courtesy of Paul Pogba. The young Frenchman needs the "carrot and stick" treatment according to Antonio Conte. After his latest performance, he deserves a big bucket load of orange vegetables.

His double helped ease the Bianconeri to a 4-0 victory which gave a painful ending to Francesco Guidolin's 500th match in charge of a Serie A side. The boys from the Friuli never got their counter-attacks flowing and the service to their front men was far too sporadic. Their Europa League ambitions fell flatter than a slab of freshly-rolled pizza dough.

And, as so often happens, Juve's triumph was only accentuated by the faltering steps of their rivals. As if intimidated by the prospect of challenging the Winter Champions, everyone in any kind of contention behind them slipped up. It left the Europa League zone looking busier than Juan Vargas’s tattoo artist.

Lazio had the most lucky escape. They needed a late Hernanes penalty to come away with a draw at ailing Palermo when both teams really wanted a win. It was a point which - like an out-of-date bottle of Limoncello - left the two sides with a bitter taste in their mouths.

There was less for Napoli to feel sour about after their point in Florence. Having got two points and two players back after unravelling the elaborate spaghetti of Italian sporting justice, the Partenopei could well have got all three points at the Artemio Franchi. Equally, the Viola will think they might have pinched more than their first point of 2013.

There will be few greater misjudgments this season than Morgan De Sanctis' decision to come for a hopeful long ball from Facundo Roncaglia. It bounced over his head and into the goal in a move which left him more red-faced than a tourist accidentally falling asleep on a Viareggio sun-lounger. It took Edinson Cavani's 100th goal in Italy - his first came against the Fiorentina too - to save his blushes.

Inter and Roma were locked in a draw on Sunday night at the Stadio Olimpico too. The Giallorossi took the lead through a Francesco Totti penalty after Michael Bradley was apparently felled by Andrea Ranocchia’s head. For the visitors, a powering Fredy Guarin run - with a hint of handball - helped to set up Rodrigo Palacio for an equaliser. Both sides could recriminate about the goals conceded but, in the end, a point each felt like just about a fair reward.

As well as Juve, the other club to make progress were Milan with a huff-and-puff victory over Bologna. There are signs that the Rossoneri are finally getting to grips with life after Thiago Silva and Zlatan Ibrahimovic. It might not be particularly pretty to watch, but at least you can't fault the effort. But it would be hard to think there are too many sleepless nights being suffered in Barcelona at the prospect of facing the Rossoneri in the Champions League.

It's only fair to also mention Catania here as genuine contenders for a European place. A 2-0 win over struggling Genoa puts Rolando Maran's side on the fringes of qualification for continental competition. It sets up an appetising clash with Fiorentina next week at the Massimino which could bring the Europa League even closer for the Sicilian side.

The outbreak of draws also affected Chievo’s clash with Parma and Atalanta’s delayed-by-snow-clearing encounter with Cagliari. Those results gave greater importance to Torino’s gutsy win at Pescara courtesy of ex-Viola wide men - Mario Santana and Alessio Cerci. Giampiero Ventura would never admit it, but his side is starting to look like it can survive comfortably in Serie A and start building confidently for another season in the top flight.

Less assured of their future in the Division are Siena and Sampdoria and emotions boiled over at the end of the Tuscan’s win over the Genoese side which had the feel of a real relegation decider, even at this stage in the season. The victory for Beppe Iachini's men gave them an outside hope of salvation while leaving Delio Rossi’s side locked in a survival battle involving at least six other sides. Tempers are likely to remain frayed between now and the end of the season.

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Have your say...
Just read the title alone...Only empty know nothing fake bandwagon fans cheer for Rube because they cheated their way to numerous titles. Nothing but glory hunters for any "fans" outside Torino. Rube are cheats and deserve no recognition. Shine the light on teams that don't cheat.
on the 25th January, 2013 at 8:15pm
The title of this blog what a joke.....
on the 23rd January, 2013 at 1:07pm
Its a testament to the quality we have when a "mini-crisis" is defined as a loss and a tie.
on the 22nd January, 2013 at 10:11pm
Lazio Makes any team in the world look favorable , the engagement in betting scandal , bribing the referee , Racism and uncivilized fans makes them unfavorable in any comparison.
on the 22nd January, 2013 at 7:09pm
You all missed the point, the title is a bit of a cynical joke. They all lost the points in Juve's favour, therefore they all love Juve, get it? :-)
on the 22nd January, 2013 at 7:00am
@Sadia- I wouldn't worry too much on that score. Other than their skin colour and massive doses of natural talent, they appear very different characters. With Pogba's ponly small, slight blemish since signing, one bout of lateness for morning training which he explained, was punished for and apologized for. He has been criticized/encouraged by the management on several occasions and keeps getting better and better...brilliant professionalism for a 19 year old playing on such a big stage.
on the 22nd January, 2013 at 1:51am
you guys are missing the point with the title...it's irony,of course not everybody loves Juve,it just looks that way from results of the last round because only Juve won their game from TOP clubs,everybody else messed up so it helped Juve...don't take everything so seriously,chill out
on the 21st January, 2013 at 10:22pm
Really? I certainly don't agree with the title of this blog!
on the 21st January, 2013 at 8:00pm
@Maldini's Heir

No, but SES is, De Sciglio is, Noccerino is crap but costed us 500 k and was awesome last 2 seaons. Abate is great cost no money, the list goes on.. If anything milan has promising players. THAT you cant take away form us. Yet.
on the 21st January, 2013 at 7:00pm
Yes everybody loves Juventus xxx
on the 21st January, 2013 at 5:01pm
I was unaware that Limocello had an expiration date.
on the 21st January, 2013 at 4:59pm
I don't think the headline was supposed to be taken so literally... Lost in translation.
on the 21st January, 2013 at 4:42pm
The title to this blog is far from the truth. In fact it's quite the opposite
on the 21st January, 2013 at 2:47pm
pogba man juve forza sempre.do it man juve is the ruler of italian football long live juve.
on the 21st January, 2013 at 1:12pm
A lot of discussion is surrounding the pen in the Roma Inter game. I think it was, if Bradley didn't jump he would have been injured, just because they let that happen in the premier league doesn't make it right..it makes it moronic!! Why would you Want your players to be injured???
on the 21st January, 2013 at 12:41pm
Great response by Juve and Pogba, but let's hope it doesn't get to his head and he ends up being a hothead like a certain Balotelli ( and yes, I know they play in different positions but they are both young and talented) And remember it was around this age when everyone was raving about him.
on the 21st January, 2013 at 12:36pm
Juventus once again did very well getting Pogba. He cost them nothing. That is the different between Milan and Juventus. Juventus over the years have had a far more sensible transfer policy which hasn't hindered their youth players. Milan have wasted a fortune on pointless signings and expensive salaries. It's hard not to want Kaka to come back but is he really the future?
on the 21st January, 2013 at 11:56am
Good to see Allegri kept the same centre backs. If anything Mexes was more of a liability so there can be no reason why Zapata should now not start every game is fit. Allegri could not resist making at least one change to the defence bringing back Abate. Abate had a good game but might he be better playing where Flamini is given he is a little accident prone and Di Scoglio is making nice progress. Allegri needs to start sticking to the same line up. Give Pazzini games and he'll start to score.
on the 21st January, 2013 at 11:53am
Great weekend of football in Serie A & not so great in the AFCON.
on the 21st January, 2013 at 11:10am
Loves? You mean hates...
on the 21st January, 2013 at 10:16am

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