Wednesday November 6 2013
There’s life in the Old Lady

A see-sawing 2-2 draw with Real Madrid leaves Juventus’ Champions League future in an uncertain state, but still within their grasp. Luca Cetta writes.

Tuttosport asked for ‘another night like this’ referring to Juventus’ stirring 3-1 victory over Real Madrid 10 years ago in the Champions League semi-final. Meanwhile, the two sides would be doing battle five years to the day Alessandro Del Piero hit a memorable brace in the Spanish capital. Matches between Juventus and Real stir up unforgettable moments for fans of both clubs, yet for Bianconeri boss Antonio Conte their second season meeting was not about history, but a fundamental contest to aid Juve’s chance of progression.

A boisterous Juventus Stadium was treated to a pulsating affair. Both sides traded blows at certain stages. Juve were up, Real down. Real up, the Bianconeri down. What the clash between two of football’s heavyweights didn’t do was make Juve’s situation any easier. The draw means there’s still a way to go to book a spot in the last 16.

When quizzed about their system in the pre-match Press Conference, Conte retorted the key was how Juventus played, not in what shape. “What is more important than the system is the way we interpret the game, because we are playing a candidate to win the Champions League.”

It needed to be a performance of intensity, of spirit and of enthusiasm. For the opening 45 minutes those qualities were all on show. Iker Casillas – supreme throughout, despite his lack of regular playing time – was the busier of the two goalkeepers. He was throwing arms and legs at anything in his path to thwart La Vecchia Signora.

Nearing the end of a first half in which the Turin giants’ midfield dominated and its defence and forward line worked hard to nullify Real’s threats, they were finally rewarded. Paul Pogba was sliced down and Arturo Vidal confidently dispatched the resulting penalty.

Carlo Ancelotti’s side turned the tide after the interval, assisted also by Martin Caceres – who played well otherwise. An errant pass gave the men in orange a chance to equalise, one Cristiano Ronaldo did not pass up. It was the start of a dominant spell for the visitors. In it, Xabi Alonso smacked the woodwork and Gareth Bale put them ahead.

What happened to the Juventus of the opening 45 minutes? Gianluigi Buffon spoke afterwards of being wary every time Real strode forward, so perhaps they aimed to hold. Ancelotti noted half-time tweaks. Yet for Conte, tiredness was the main factor. “In the second half we suffered a little at keeping that tempo with such a packed fixture list. When the intensity drops against Real Madrid, you inevitably risk paying the price, especially when Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale are running at you on the counter.”

Juve needed to bounce back and get something from the game. They did just that. Caceres redeemed himself by crossing for Fernando Llorente’s powerful header. It was the Spaniard’s second goal in consecutive European ties and further highlighted what he brings to the team.

Real controlled possession in the final stages, as both looked content with a point. Conte was generally satisfied. “I’d rate our performance very highly. The team did very well and the first half was perfect in every respect, organisation, quality and intensity.” Buffon rated the performance seven out of 10. For La Gazzetta dello Sport, it was a great Juve which took a ‘golden point.’

As the group stage reaches its climax, Juve are now drawn into a must-win situation. Currently bottom with just three points from four games, they were aided by Copenhagen’s win over Galatasaray. That keeps them alive and essentially still in control of their destiny. Victory over the Danes in three weeks would give Juventus an opening. Should Real Madrid defeat Gala, it would even leave Conte’s men in second place.

A 2-2 draw may not have been the wholly desired result last night, but it remains in Juve’s hands to finish second in Group B. They must now grasp the chance.

Keep up to date with the latest news and action from Spain's Primera Division with Football Espana - from the team behind Football Italia.

Have your say...
I have faith in Juve squad. Evething is in position it must to be. Now Juve on top of Serie A after 13 weeks and we can see quality of the team improves day by day with Llorent surprise form. Only issue with the righ winger where we verry miss Lichsteiner.
on the 26th November, 2013 at 6:46am
The games against Real showed that they can compete with the best. However the team is still too workman like and if they progress to the knock outstages they really need invest in some flair and width in January, and not necessarily in attack - some decent wing backs wouldn't be amiss (Santon or Azpilicueta perhaps). I also hope they stick with the 4-3-3 and I can see a diamond midfield working too. The 3-5-2 has had it's day and should only be used as a plan B or C now.
on the 8th November, 2013 at 10:39am
For me Barzagli is by far the best defender. He is the oldest, but he is still quick and reads the game so well that he is rarely caught out of position. Bonucci and Chiellini were rock solid last season, but this season they have regularly been caught out of position, lost possession whilst bringing the ball out and simply defended poorly. Along with Buffon, their level has dropped alarmingly and sentiment should not come into the question of whether they are still good enough for Juventus.
on the 8th November, 2013 at 2:05am
@ realist

When I hear "he is doing the best he can" it makes me think of the years we finished 7th. This is what fans of teams who never win anything and never will win anything say. Juventus expect to win, we have won titles for over 100 years and we have the right to expect nothing but the best. Manchester United expect to win. Real Madrid expect to win. Bayern Munich expect to win. When the best teams in Europe have players who are not good enough, fans have the right to vent their anger.
on the 8th November, 2013 at 12:53am
@ Mustafaaa

If you disagree with my opinion, why not try and debate the point instead of a one line answer. I would love to hear your retort. Chiellini and Bonucci have made terrible errors all season and Caceres and Ogbonna deserve more playing time. Asamoah never beats a man, his crossing is asysmal and his positional play is terrible. Marchisio is weak physically and technically not good enough to compensate. His lack of quality stands out a mile compared to his midfield colleagues.
on the 7th November, 2013 at 6:58pm
as a rock . remember quadwo is not a left back he is really a centre mid so you cant fault the guy . he is doing the best he can .
on the 7th November, 2013 at 6:58pm
@ gabriel . i understand what you are saying about marchisio . he tends to fade out of games . bonucci is the
real liability as he thinks he is pirlo sometimes . his long passes that dont make it through are ok if we play against smaller teams but against top teams it only puts us under pressure .when he plays it simple he is great . chiellini is our best defender and bails us out a lot . he especially helps bonucci a lot after he does crap . our last league game against parma chiellini was
on the 7th November, 2013 at 6:57pm
We need to get licht and vucinic back ASAP. the tevez and llorente pairing simply does not work. Llorente is a target man but our wingers are not able to cross the ball to him. Thus, tevez has to do ALL the work up front and runs like crazy all over the place. He loses his energy this way. Im not saying vucinic is amazing, but he at least is able to carry the ball.
What seperates Juve from the top tier teams like madrid, barcelona, and bayern is the number of mistakes they make.
on the 7th November, 2013 at 1:28pm
Some part of me is glad I didn't see this game- I would have needed a paramedic on standby! From what I could gather from the highlights and your wonderful review was that basic mistake and an amazing Real Madrid goalkeeper were significant in this latest result. Hoefully the next to games wont have these issues because I'm sure Conte would have a lot to say in the weeks ahead ;) It just would be a good showing for Italian football if the guys could get further. FOR ITALIAN PRIDE!
on the 7th November, 2013 at 11:23am
@ Gabriel

" Bonucci, Chiellini, Asamoah and Marchisio are inept and liabilities. "

This is the joke of the week.
on the 7th November, 2013 at 8:51am
My team, if everyone was fit, would be:

Buffon - Barzagli, Caceres, Ogbonna - Lichtsteiner, Vidal, Pirlo, Pogba, De Ceglie - Llorente/Vucinic, Tevez.

Not perfect, but for me Caceres and De Ceglie would be better options than Bonucci and Asamoah. Chiellini has made too many mistakes and Ogbonna deserves the chance to replace him. Obviously Marchisio doesn't make the team. I wouldn't even have him on the bench. Sell him to Monoco and try not to laugh whilst they hand over £20-£30 million.
on the 7th November, 2013 at 4:39am
you lot don't know football apart from his mistake Martin Caceres had ronaldo on lock if you watched that game you would see ronaldo was switching sides
on the 7th November, 2013 at 3:30am
I am not looking forward to seeing the line-up to play Napoli on Sunday. I assume Chiellini will be back with Bonucci, even though both are errors waiting to happen. Caceres will be dropped for Isla or Padoin. Asamoah and Marchisio will both play, irrespective of how utterly dreadful they both are constantly. Vidal and Pogba will have to run themselves into the ground as they have to do every single match. Give Llorente crosses and he will dominate, otherwise there is no point him being there.
on the 6th November, 2013 at 11:30pm
Last season our game management was superb and we were machine like in our efficiency. We were compact and hardly every gave away chances, then clinically finished off the opposition. Now we look disjointed and I believe we are at the end of a cycle and many players have hit the wall and are simply not good enough any more. Vidal, Pogba, Pirlo and Tevez have dragged us to results. Buffon is no longer the last line of defence. Bonucci, Chiellini, Asamoah and Marchisio are inept and liabilities.
on the 6th November, 2013 at 8:56pm
My bad they dropped behind the ball with a line of 5 in midfield and 4 in defense not 2 lines of 4. A lopsided 433 which was essentially a 451 without the ball. This is how master Allegri played Barca last year in champions league.
on the 6th November, 2013 at 7:50pm
Juve had nice ball retention in the first half but they could only play up to their opponents 18 and lacked a reference in the final third, they cannot counter like a Real so they rely on a team build up as opposed to pure counter attacking style. They need to respect ball retention a little more and defending with 9 players without the ball a little less but then again they were playing real madrid. If only their midfield didn't have to score the goals. Quit losing the ball Tevez.
on the 6th November, 2013 at 7:43pm
Juve played short corners to not run the chance of being counter attacked. I do not think it was fitness that upped Real's tempo in the second half. I think Real realized they didn't press Juventus enough in midfield and that allowed them to dictate tempo in the first half. When Juventus lost the ball and could not win in right back with high pressure they dropped behind the ball and mildly team pressed with 2 lines of 4. Juve has to manage the game better, more than tactics.
on the 6th November, 2013 at 7:10pm
Despite his error, and it was horrendous, I thought Martin Caceres was brilliant last night. The way he handled Ronaldo, with pace and strength, was exceptional. Apart from his goal, Ronaldo didn't have won clear cut chance. Before abusing Caceres, imagine what Ronaldo would have done to Padoin, Isla or Motta. Caceres should be a regular, either covering for Lichtsteiner or at centre half with Barzagli and Ogbonna. Bonucci and Chiellini are now accidents waiting to happen every match.
on the 6th November, 2013 at 5:51pm
This was not a high quality match. This is not the type of match I want to see Juventus play in. How many times has a Juventus/Real Madrid game garnered 41 chances. It resembled a bad basketball game, not a clash of European giants. We are playing the worst football since Conte took charge. We have no game control and unless the squad is given a complete overhaul, we will continue to play this way because too many players' high level of performance has just gone and I don't see it coming back.
on the 6th November, 2013 at 5:38pm
Juve's next matchup with copehagen the formation should be, are you ready:3-4-2-1 meaning goalie Robinho "yeah that's right",let's not be hasty now,from left to right chiellini,bonehead bonucci when he's awake,the ever elloquent barzagli,from left asamoah,pogba,pirlo,vidal and supp attack,llorente left,tevez on right, and at the point,the "one" the only quagmire aka "quagliarella"....guaraneed a 2/0 for juve win....
on the 6th November, 2013 at 5:02pm
another thing i have to say im a juve supporter but lets be honest as slow and painful pirlo is and i have criticized him in the past for being caught on the ball but with out pirlo juve look like a lower tier team to me and its only pogba that gives a bit of quality to the midfield vidal and marchisio dont do enough vidal passing is nothing short of shocking its astounding how many times he passes the ball blind.without pirlo and pogba juve are nothing they should of broke the bank for higuain
on the 6th November, 2013 at 5:00pm
shows how ppl pay attention to the game dennis is right juventus in the first half had at least 5 6 corners and they played every one of them short and across the penalty area ,they didn't even get a strike on any of the passes rolled across the area.second thing careces was a obvious mistake but no one other than me has noticed how much asamoah turns hes back on the ball while tracking and jockeying an opponent its terrible defending 8 year olds dont do this a park level.
on the 6th November, 2013 at 4:55pm
personally juventus have the wrong set up juventus play a lot in front of the opponents back four but they dont have a point of reference to roll balls into feet to a striker with their back to goal.i would play llorente all the time for this role and play vucinec and tevez off of him llorente hold up play is decent and hes a good striker with crosses i would play 4312 with tevez being the 1 and marchisio missing out pogba has to play for me its marchisio or vidal fighting for the last midfield
on the 6th November, 2013 at 4:50pm
asamoah is one of the worse players i have seen in a juve shirt he cant beat a player he cant cross a ball to save hes life and he cant defend.first thing you are taught when you are a defender is never turn your back on the ball while jockeying a player asamoah does this which leads to bales goal.i agree with the crosses statement llorente is a good hold up player and a good header of the ball so tell me the logic of refusing to cross the ball.
on the 6th November, 2013 at 4:47pm
Juventus were excellent up until the Caceres error. They could have been up 2 or 3 if not for Iker Casillas. I still think Marchisio has to offer more, at present he is little more than a passenger. He was poor in the 2nd half of last season and he's started poorly this year. If Monaco really were prepared to pay 20 million then we should have sold him and invested in Verratti
on the 6th November, 2013 at 4:16pm
Juve deserve praise, yes, but need a plan B. It is impossible to dominate two games per week. The plan B must be used in periods where they do not have the ball, e.g. the second half last night. It needs to give the players a rest. It needs to be based on containment and counter attacking, so that they can nick a goal when they are not in control. If and when Conte manages that, he will make the transition from good to great.
on the 6th November, 2013 at 3:48pm
@Dennis - completely agree with you on your points there. Could not understand why we weren't crossing more, especially as Llorente has been growing in taking his chances, exceptionally, with each time they come his way. And the late subs I truly do not understand at all... mind-boggling.
on the 6th November, 2013 at 3:04pm
Didn't see the game but I think the result in the other match really gives Juve more life than their performance.
on the 6th November, 2013 at 2:31pm
@ Dennis

How about you go and take Conte's place smart fellla ? Go count how many crosses were made last night and then come take a sideswipe at Conte you piece of non-sense.
on the 6th November, 2013 at 2:28pm
Conte prepared the team almost perfectly. But if it wasn't for Caceres two howler, Juve would've won it. Juve lost the momentum when Cacere made that first howler.

Juve can definitely win the last two matches.
on the 6th November, 2013 at 2:21pm

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