The irresistible force meeting the immoveable object. That’s what greeted the Juventus Stadium crowd in the showpiece Round 30 encounter on Wednesday. In one corner was a Bianconeri outfit which had not dropped any points at home this season and won six successive games. In the other was Roberto Donadoni’s Parma. The last time they walked off the pitch defeated was in November, when Juve were in town. A club record 17 matches unbeaten later, the two would meet again.
Carlos Tevez did his best to keep Juve’s streak afloat with a deadly seven-minute salvo. The Argentine held off countryman-turned-Italian-international Gabriel Paletta, before firing across Antonio Mirante’s goal. And when Arturo Vidal’s shot was saved by the former Juve custodian in the 32nd minute, El Apache was there to turn in the rebound.
Two of Parma’s five ex-Juventini took centre stage after the interval. Firstly, Cristian Molinaro shocked the home crowd with a sweetly struck volley just past the hour mark. A stunned stadium was left wondering whether this really was the same Molinaro who once wore the Bianconeri shirt. In truth, Molinaro may well have finished with a hat-trick. Amauri was next to hit the headlines when his elbow connected with Giorgio Chiellini. A red card followed, and with it Parma’s hopes looked extinguished.
A man down, the Gialloblu gave Juve a mighty scare. The aforementioned Molinaro came agonisingly close as the clock ticked away, with Ezequiel Schelotto unable to prod home the loose ball metres from goal. Parma’s run may have ended, but Donadoni can rightly be proud of his team. Europe remains a possibility.
Antonio Conte acknowledged they passed a stern test: “This was a wonderful, important victory against a team that was unbeaten in 17 rounds and they showed their strength again this evening. You don’t put up a run like that if you don’t have quality.”
The win means Juve surpass the mark set in 1975-76 by cross-town rivals Torino, recording their 15th consecutive home victory this season. They remain on course for a 100-point season. Meanwhile, Tevez reclaimed top spot in the Capocannoniere race. The double takes him to 18 goals, one-upping Toro’s Ciro Immobile.
The pair clashed in the Derby della Mole and this week traded scoring blows. It was a case of ‘anything you can do, I can do better’. After his weekend triple Immobile roared into contention, before Tevez responded in Catania. On Tuesday, the Italian netted a Marco Van Basten-esque volley against Roma, only for Tevez to wrest top spot away 24 hours later.
One interested onlooker at the Stadio Olimpico was Azzurri boss Cesare Prandelli - Immobile’s goal will give him something to think about. Other’s hoping to impress the CT and stake their claim for a place in Brazil did their chances no harm. Mattia Destro grabbed his ninth goal of an injury-hit campaign, while Alessandro Florenzi secured a last-minute winner beneath the Curva Sud.
“Last night I saw some youngsters who finally dared to dream and this bodes well for the future,” commented Prandelli on Wednesday.
For Torino, it was another heartbreaking loss. They suffered the same fate against Napoli recently and have won just once in six matches. The door to Europe has been firmly shut.
Another to see continental aspirations vanish is Verona. Andrea Mandorlini’s Gialloblu fell to a fourth successive defeat away at Cagliari, hot on the heels of Sunday’s drubbing against Sampdoria. Worryingly, Hellas have not netted in five games. The three points aid Cagliari’s hopes of survival.
The race for third took another twist, with the Champions League train seemingly headed for Naples. The Partenopei could afford to take their foot off the pedal after blitzing Catania in the opening 45 minutes, netting four times - Duvan Zapata bookending the scoring as Henrique hit a screamer. The Elefanti clawed two back, but Serie B is on cards if they cannot return to the winners list.
Having been knocked from pillar to post over the past month, Milan recorded a much-needed – and surprise – victory at Fiorentina. The Viola had hoped to build on Sunday’s win over Napoli and further reduce the gap. Instead, Philippe Mexes and Mario Balotelli sealed Milan’s first win since February 23 and with it, may have saved Clarence Seedorf’s job. His ‘two game ultimatum’ has resulted in four points. Will that be enough to appease the Rossoneri top brass?
Chievo recorded a decisive win over fellow relegation candidate Bologna, as Atalanta continued their purple patch against Livorno. The sum of those results sees the Flying Donkeys and Amaranti trade places. Livorno now occupy the final relegation spot.
Meanwhile, it was a good night for both Genoa clubs. The Rossoblu downed Lazio, with Alberto Gilardino another to give his World Cup dream a shot in the arm. Sampdoria moved into the top half after a battling win at Sassuolo. Consecutive losses leaves the Neroverdi five points from safety.
The midweek action continues tonight, with Inter looking to atone for Sunday’s upset loss. President Erick Thohir has flown in from Indonesia to watch their contest with Udinese.