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Wednesday February 13 2013
Decisive Matri showing true form

Alessandro Matri starred as a clinical Juventus put one foot in the Champions League quarter-finals with a win at Celtic. Luca Cetta writes.

As Juventus’ defenders jostled and harassed at one end of the pitch on Tuesday night, Alessandro Matri was busy confirming his recent purple patch. The Juventus striker netted the first at Celtic Park when he capitalised on an Efe Ambrose error and was instrumental in the Bianconeri’s second, superbly finding Claudio Marchisio. Juve all but ensured their passage to the last eight when Mirko Vucinic coolly sealed the 3-0 result following another Ambrose blunder.

In between Matri’s early opener and the late brace was a steely performance. Gianluigi Buffon and his cohorts were tested, but rarely troubled. For all Celtic’s endeavour, they created only one heart-stopping moment. Amid it all, Juve kept their fourth consecutive Champions League clean sheet and became the first Italian club to score 700 goals in European competitions.

Questions have surrounded Juve’s attacking ranks this term and Matri has bore the brunt of criticism. Early season performances suggested a player lacking confidence, let down by his usually trusty finishing ability. Even Nicklas Bendtner got a look-in ahead of the former Cagliari man. He was a shadow of the player who rippled the net with consistency in the 12 months following the move from Sardinia.

“I’m not satisfied with being a reserve, I’m working to play in the starting XI. Pecking orders have to be respected, but you can try and change them,” noted Matri two weeks ago. Like a boxer on the ropes he has fought back to give Antonio Conte a welcome selection headache. Starting with the late December win over Cagliari, Matri has looked like his old self.

That night at the Stadio Ennio Tardini he filled Juventus with Christmas joy by scoring a crucial late brace after entering the pitch as a substitute in the come-from-behind victory over his former club. Since the turn of the year Mitra Matri has netted three Serie A goals in four matches – including a sumptuous volley at Chievo. Saturday’s strike against Fiorentina was reminiscent of the Matri Juve forked out €18million for in January 2011. From fourth or fifth choice, Matri is now a regular in the Bianconeri XI.

This at a time when his future was placed under the microscope. Nicolas Anelka was signed for the present and Fernando Llorente for the future. Yet that only served to spur the Lombardy native on. Matri brushed off any fears his future was away from Turin. “I never felt as if my future was in the balance last month. Neither the club or my agent told me anything.”

His goal at the weekend confirmed a starting spot alongside Vucinic at Celtic Park. Just three minutes in Matri would reward that decision. He benefitted from Ambrose’s indecision to race on to Federico Peluso’s long pass and poke home. The ball crossed the line, but only just, to give Matri his first Champions League goal. All he had was a sniff. All he needed was a sniff. It was the goal of a confident player.

That was one half of the equation. The other was the hardworking Matri, one who chased, battled and led the forward line with distinction. He was a willing runner and brought others into the game. None more so than Marchisio – another excellent performer - who scored the second goal after Matri’s deft flick.

“Matri contributed to a fine goal, as it came from a situation we had practiced many times in training,” said Conte. “I had to work very hard before being worthy of Juventus. Alessandro is working very hard now and improving in terms of his knockdowns and assists.” Former Juve players and European Cup winners Paolo Rossi and Alessio Tacchinardi were also quick to praise the striker.

Juve are poised to qualify for the quarter-finals thanks to their away victory, even if the players stressed the tie is not over. However, the Old Lady will go into the return fixture with a greater degree of comfort. Their triumph was built on a rock solid foundation and taken to the next level by the type of Matri performance fans have been crying out for. He did his standing in the squad no harm.

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Have your say...
The Italian Champions played with class. Masterful defending, and a lethal counter attack. While Celtic played their "rudby" style. Two foot tackles, trying to underclip Gigi on the corners, and stomps. Make no mistake, Celtic was not robbed, they were taken to school.
on the 13th February, 2013 at 4:58pm
Buffon was absolutely spot-on with his post match analysis. In fact, every time he speaks, he does so with intelligence and objectivity. He will make a fine manager one day, or President of the Italian FA. He is just as classy off the pitch as he is on it.
on the 13th February, 2013 at 4:47pm
To clarify/educate, Hooper was trying to restrict Buffon's movement and although there is no rule prohibiting that there is equally no rule preventing a player from protecting his keeper. Re: pulling and tugging it all happened before the ball was struck so according to law 12 no foul was committed. As for Celtic fans/sympathizers go, your mere existance yesterday came from a blatant Samaras dive in the 81st against Moscow in the group stage so spare us the rubbish. Karma's a bitch.
on the 13th February, 2013 at 4:13pm
@SuperA: Celtic were the one playing dirty, it's so obvious they had a player who had order to distract Buffon every time they had a corner kick. Lich just doing his job protecting his GK and he got a yellow card for it? He even guarded the Celtic player without using his arm. Tossing around in the penalty box when there were a corner or free kick was always part of the game. So what's wrong with that?
on the 13th February, 2013 at 4:12pm
Congrats Juve! They kept up a good attitude. However, can't say they played the most entertaining football. First half thy had one shot at goal..which led to the goal. After that they played extremely defensive, as they should. Second half, two shots , two goals. Pretty good convertion rate of you ask me...

Now, comparing Matri to Pipo... That's just not right. Haven't juve been moaning the last 12 month about not having a top striker? Now when one step up ,suddenly he is the new pipo??
on the 13th February, 2013 at 3:21pm
not Matri i am worried about it's Giovinco
on the 13th February, 2013 at 3:18pm
Hey Super A, I must admit I am very jealous that I don't get to wtach the classic ties the scottish league has to offer every week, you can not beat dumbarton against Partick, it is chalked into every calendar up and down the country, your blessed mate, I have to content myself with Milan, Inter, Juve, Napoli, Lazio. With rangers gone, there is not one game worth watching in that league now, the old firm was the only bit of excitement, and even that was awful.
on the 13th February, 2013 at 2:59pm
I thought Matri was great at the weekend, but he was excellent yesterday. Pure excellence along with Marchisio. The Juve we saw yesterday truly looked world class and unbeatable.
on the 13th February, 2013 at 2:48pm
Also, the hypocrisy from the ITV commentators who seemed genuinely affronted about Lichtsteiner blocking Hooper from Buffon but praised Scott Brown for constantly kicking at Andrea Pirlo was hilarious.
on the 13th February, 2013 at 2:42pm
Great Juve performance, gave Celtic lots of possession but closed down when they actually got into dangerous areas. Let them wear themselves out and then struck decisively on the counter. It was a great performance from Matri, I'm a big fan of Quagliarella but it looks more likely now that he'll be leaving in the summer instead of Matri.
on the 13th February, 2013 at 2:40pm
@ SuperA - oh like it doesnt happen in other leagues?! oh wait cos ITV and the british Media go over board! and the saintly EPL is gods gift to the world of football! dont be so narrow minded and fooled by media HPYE! and marketing! stadia in Italy are not too full as they are oiut of date! and italian red tape stops clubs from buildin their own! get over it pal celtic were played at their own game! Juve went to war and won the 1st battle! for all celtics runnin they didnt create much! at all
on the 13th February, 2013 at 2:38pm
I am really please to see Juve playing with passion. The clubs been through some hard times and Juve have been patient through out. We play positive and fantastic football. And with more firepower coming in June things can only get better. Forza JUVE!!!
on the 13th February, 2013 at 2:33pm
Brilliant display of soaking up pressure and counter attacking football by Juve. Celtic thought they could bully Juve and be intimidated by the crowd, not a chance! Barzagli was immense!!
Love it how ITV think huffing and puffing for 65 minutes at 100mph automatically means you deserve to win a match!
on the 13th February, 2013 at 2:32pm
I found the Scottish commentators very disappointing last night.
& the comments from the Celtics coach & players were just as bad.

Anonymous, Sadia, Daniel Giambrone all made very good points here.

Celtic tried to play physically all over the field but couldn't handle the fact that we pushed back. Also Lichtsteiner could have definitely been more subtle about his pushing.

Peluso left me impressed but ultimately we gave Celitc to much freedom, gave the ball away cheaply.

Worried Juve fan
on the 13th February, 2013 at 2:31pm
Barzagli was a giant in the back line,for £300,000 he is pound for pound the best defender in Italy,what a bargain.Only Chielini is better.
on the 13th February, 2013 at 2:18pm
Thanks for that, Super A - what a valid contribution*

*irksome bit of trolling
on the 13th February, 2013 at 2:02pm
The article is written from the perspective of viewing matri's goal as pure class and intentional. For a start he got scared when the keeper charged at the ball and flukily poked the ball which just happened to go between the keeper's legs. He is good for aerage teams like Milan, but not worthy of Juve. his goal was lucky. There is a bad thing about luck, it tends to run out. If only we had signed van persie.
on the 13th February, 2013 at 1:55pm
He should be in the Italy squad but truth is Prandelli has his head so far up Balotelli he wont get on, Him and Pazzini are both good enough more so than Gilardino. Matri movement last night reminded me of Inzaghi
on the 13th February, 2013 at 1:53pm
@SuperA: yeah, right.. when the italians did that, it's a dirty tactic. But when the british did the same thing, like chelsea last season.. or england in the last euro, it was a "brilliant and brave" tactic.

You are just pathetic..
on the 13th February, 2013 at 1:30pm
Great result last night, but there are few concerns regarding ball retention. Possession was given away too cheaply. Bonucci's long passes were particularly poor. If Juve play like that against their potential last 8 opponents, they will be punished because they will face more potent attacks. I hope that in the second leg, it will be Juve that boss the game. Barzagli, Marchisio, & Matri were fantastic!
on the 13th February, 2013 at 1:06pm
you have to understand conte's system and why matri has struggled...matri is an open space striker...one who looks for room in the 18 yard box...in conte's system he is forced to chase down balls and take on defenders, particularly in the 18 yard box...matri is finally finding the balance of looking for open space and challenging defenders so that midfielders can run into the open areas...matri is a solid player and when hes going, hes a clinical as any striker in europe...
on the 13th February, 2013 at 1:06pm
The crowds in Italy are big enough friend. It's funny how they complain about that but it's okay to go into a tackle with both legs and try to break the player's leg... that's fine though?!!! People forget, trying to get in front of the keeper is cheating, so they got what they deserved. I admit Lichtsteiner could have been a bit subtle about it.
on the 13th February, 2013 at 1:03pm
I have always rated Matri! At Juve' there has always been something that has affected his performances: rarely starting several games in succession, the service from the flanks-too many shots from acut angles instead of crosses, & his confidence. When he is in on form, he reminds me of the Torres that we saw at Liverpool. If fit, he should start each game now!
on the 13th February, 2013 at 12:50pm
The holding goes on in every league, every week in every game, as usual the British media made it seem like it was limited to italy. Celtic tried to rough house and dirupt and didn't like getting the smae in return. Stephan was pushing his luck though as did Padoin, they need to be careful, and clever, wtch the ball while you do it not just the player. But games would be ridiculous if you start giving penalties for it every time, and scoring form a corner would be a gift every tme.
on the 13th February, 2013 at 12:47pm
I think all this talk about Matri getting the boot just annoyed him into action, But I do warn Juve fans to try and contain themselves, do they remeber when they were dumped out of the Europa League by Fulham?? I do, and that's why Juve should continue to show Celtic the same respect in the 2nd leg and also show that elegance,finese and skill will always over come brute force.
on the 13th February, 2013 at 12:30pm
Oh how glad I am that Matri scored that early goal, couldn't stand that Scottish commentary for the first 3 min.

Like I said before, 2012 was a bad year for Matri in terms of playing, and the opposite is happening now in 2013. Matri is in right form at the right time, especially now where Juve needs a goal poacher up front
on the 13th February, 2013 at 12:27pm
No wonder the crowds in Italy are poor if you have to put up watching those antics at set pieces every week.
Id turn my back on Football if forced to watch that...
on the 13th February, 2013 at 12:19pm
congtratulation to all JUVE fans
the greatest performance after chelsea match
thanks to conte & all players
now, we should focus to serie A
grazie conte
grazie matri
grazie marchi
grazie vuci
grazie all
on the 13th February, 2013 at 12:06pm
I don't understand why he isn't playing for italy? i know he isn't the most skilful player but he always there putting goals in,setting up goals and how many times have see him come on and change the game?
on the 13th February, 2013 at 11:24am
Forza MATRI, FORZA JUVE , FORZA CONTE
on the 13th February, 2013 at 10:57am

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