Sunday February 9 2020
Hellas outclass sluggish Juventus

Hellas Verona showed Italian champions Juventus that hard work beats talent, when talent doesn’t work hard, writes Elio Salerno.

Listening to Juventus boss Maurizio Sarri post game bemoan his sides lack of concentration and hard work instantly brings to mind an old football quote that is very relevant to the 90 minutes we witnessed on Saturday evening.

“Hard work beats talent, when talent doesn’t work hard” is an anecdote that rings worryingly true for Juventini after recent performances. Despite taking a second half lead through Cristiano Ronaldo, the Bianconeri always looked vulnerable in a game they never had any control of. The Portuguese superstar has now directly contributed to an impressive 50% of his side’s goals in Serie A, a statistic that shows a concerning reliance on CR7.

Prior to falling behind, Hellas and their coach Ivan Juric had shown just why they have been one of the peninsula’s outstanding teams this campaign. A relentless desire to run intensely had their illustrious hosts on the back-foot for the majority of the opening half. Bravely opting to deploy a player orientated press paid dividends for Hellas, as they left Juve flustered and forced them into playing more direct passes into attacking areas.

Verona took risks, but showed courage in doing so. There is much to admire about this youthful team who knew they had little to lose against Juventus and rather than cower at the prospect of facing The Old Lady, the Gialloblu took it as an opportunity to showcase their talents to a wider audience.

This performance from the home team was underpinned by their will to run, but Juric’s players executed their striker-less system intelligently. Matteo Pessina marshalled Miralem Pjanic well out of possession, but when his team had the ball, he provided an attacking link by occupying positions around the Juventus midfield, freeing himself to receive the ball.

Hellas forced Sarri’s back four to defend narrow, creating spaces down the sides for marauding wing-backs Marco Davide Faraoni and Darko Lazovic. The smart positioning of Fabio Borini and Mattia Zaccagni played a key role in helping Hellas create overloads in wide areas. Zaccagni on the left stationed himself between Juan Cuadrado and Matthijs de Ligt, whilst Borini did the same on the right, helping to occupy Leo Bonucci and Alex Sandro in the same way.

Aside from watching rivals Juventus struggle, Fiorentina fans would have been doubly delighted with the performance of Sofyan Amrabat in midfield. La Viola’s new recruit for next season seemingly covered every blade of grass between the boxes, bringing fantastic balance to his side in the process. Registering the most touches and attempted passes in the Hellas team, he formed part of an excellent midfield duo with Miguel Veloso.

Further back young defender Marash Kumbulla enhanced his growing reputation as he completed all six of his attempted six tackles, pocketing Douglas Costa throughout and only allowing the Brazilian space when he was substituted because of another injury.

For all Verona’s hard work, it appeared as though a passage of world class play from CR7 would leave them empty handed, but Amrabat and co were never likely to go quietly. They pushed on, Juric sent on a striker in the form of Giampaolo Pazzini, thus taking further risks by leaving bigger open spaces, but they received the rewards their play deserved. Punishing two Juventus mistakes in a clinical manner turned the game around in the space of 10 minutes and once ahead, Hellas never appeared in danger of conceding a late goal.

As for Juve, the lazy way in which they surrendered their lead summed up a dire performance. Beyond Ronaldo, Sarri’s players made little impact on proceedings and there is a growing concern that the Turin giants are heading in the wrong direction.

The midfield continues to be an anonymous part of the team. Pjanic was expected to savour playing under Sarri, but instead the Bosnian is regressing, and it is perhaps now time for Juve to find a different solution in his role, even if this causes further short-term pain.

Mister Sarri’s words around issues with concentration and superficial attitudes within the squad are without doubt a problem. However, needing to work harder and “get dirty” as he mentioned are not attributes that are not strongly associated with Sarri, so if he expects things to change in that department, he will need to be the man to push it.  

In truth, the problems for La Vecchia Signora have been growing over the last couple of years and it should not be overly surprising if this is the season when the winning run finally ends. Pieces that are glued together over time always run the risk of becoming unstuck and at this moment, Juve are very much in danger of doing just that. The club’s management could be facing some harsh criticism in the near future.

Hellas Verona have just added extra spice to what is an already enthralling Serie A season.

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Have your say...
Pjanic is the Cancer of Juve squad. slow,lazy,can't defend,passive backpass prone. should sell him first this summer. he isn't and can't be Pirlo.
on the 11th February, 2020 at 12:56pm
@Anonymous - Have you forgotten the final 1.5/2 years under Allegri? All the UCL games where Juve ended up with their backs against the wall and had to plan one desparate comeback after another? The two UCL finals were Juve did not just lose - they were humiliated. This was all under Allegri. This season, Juve have played better under Sarri in UCL and qualified comfortably. Let's wait and see what happens in May and then judge the man. Easy to sack the coach. Zamparini made a career out of it.
on the 11th February, 2020 at 11:37am
Next season
Sandro, De Ligt, bonucci, Cuadradro
Sancho, Savic, Pjanic or Bentancur, Costa
CR7, Dybala
This Juventus is too slow.
on the 11th February, 2020 at 10:59am
If fans want to complain about bad play, they should be ashamed of the two legs against Ajax last year, where Juve completely capitulated. And, yes that was under Allegri - the very guy they want back. That was the most embarassing display from a team of Juve's standing. Juve is trying to make the transition from Allegri's uneventful style to a more attacking attractive style - with the same group of players - dare I say. Its aint easy!!! Give the man a chance!!
on the 11th February, 2020 at 10:32am
Give this team time, the issue is clearly psychological.

also the continuous "blame it on" Pjanic by some fans and the footy italai website is stupid!

he was being man marked in siera a all the time.

he is playing really good in CL.

anyway the issue is not simple tactics and change.
on the 10th February, 2020 at 11:45pm
@mez. is not that it is one bad is shoddy play..lack of goals...inability to keep a clean sheet...conceeding within 10 minutes of a lead constantly..Ronaldo has bailed then out quite a bit...they have not outplayed and won comfortably all season..watching them is nerve wrecking..they just seem lazy and devoid of many points to dropped from winning positions
on the 10th February, 2020 at 8:29pm
@mez Cos Sarri is stubborn he dont care what players he have available and he dont know his players very well,after juve had d lead he shoud have played matuidi and not ramsey,Ramseay and rabiot cant play togeter they are too lasy ro runn and chase d ball and have no energy in general,they are vastly underperforming so far.We all knew that sarri is downgrade, after all max beated his napoli evry season they faced.
on the 10th February, 2020 at 7:06pm
@luca Chiesa is not worth d money they ask for him
on the 10th February, 2020 at 6:59pm
Verona's win was a pleasant surprise. I was angry Verona's game against Lazio was rescheduled to only 3 days before Juve, and you better believe had Juve won there would be much criticism from other fans about this. Verona however said "Lazio and Juve in 3 days? Bring them on". Four points from those games is incredible.
on the 10th February, 2020 at 5:52pm
Maybe Sarri has not been as good as we had hoped for, but why are some Juve fans banging on about bringing Allegri back? What is the point in doing that?? Give Sarri a chance, I think he will come good. Good teams take time to build. Juve lead serie A, are in the Coppa and have qualified for the knockout stages of UCL. As soon as he has one bad game, he is immediately discredited. Some fans are completely stupid. Barca were successful under Guardiola but it took them years to get there!!
on the 10th February, 2020 at 5:20pm
Issue is simple. He wants his classic 4-3-3 which he started the season doing. Costa got hurt, Fede failed at the role and we know Dybala can't play wide. He changed to the 4-3-1-2 and it was working. Costa comes back and now he switches back to the 4-3-3. This doesn't work, CR7 doesn't track back, leaves the whole left side empty, and prevents Sandro who is the better crosser to play more cautious.

I wouldn't mind trying a 4-4-2 just to see if it provides more structure defensively.
on the 10th February, 2020 at 4:02pm

Sell: Ramsey, Higuain, Matuidi, Khedira, Bernadeschi, Danilo, Cuadrado, Costa,

Buy: Nelson Semedo or Ricardo Pereira, Coutinho, Chiesa, Donyel Malen or Osimhen, Soumare


Pereira, De Sciglio, Pellegrini, Sandro, Chiellini, Bonucci, De Ligt, Demiral, Rugani

Rabiot, Coutinho, Pjanic, Bentancur, Tonali, Soumare

Dybala, Ronaldo, Malen/Osimhen, Chiesa,
on the 10th February, 2020 at 3:40pm

They're all too immobile to keep up with the pace of modern football, especially in the champions league.

Swapping Cancelo for Danilo was an awful decision which once again I said at the time. I agree that Cancelo can't defend but he offers a real threat going forward, Danilo does nothing in defense or attack. A major overhaul is needed in this team
on the 10th February, 2020 at 3:29pm

It was plainly obvious this would happen and I mentioned it in a comment at the start of the season. Juve have no pace or dynamism in this team and although Ronaldo has scored a lot of goals and was a great marketing signing it's come at the detriment to the rest of the team, especially Dybala who should be on free kicks and pens ahead of Ronaldo.

How can you expect a midfield of Pjanic, Khedira, Ramsey, Can (Obvs now left), Bentancur, Rabiot and Matuidi dominate a game of football.
on the 10th February, 2020 at 3:26pm
Who cares about the scudetto? They have won it 8 times in a row. BUT.....If they play like this in UCL, then Paratici, Nedved, Sarri and all the players need to be fitted with concrete boots and thrown into the sea. W/out Chiellini, they seem to be missing a leader. I hope his comeback will shake things up a bit.
on the 10th February, 2020 at 10:42am
look like someone here think Inter already win Scudetto or CL and blast Juve performance. like before, Inter will run out steam and back to their usual condition.
on the 10th February, 2020 at 9:10am
@Black and Blue Thanks for taking 5 minutes out of your busy schedule of being a keyboard warrior and yelling at others... That was very insightful, not to mention valuable critique. As for whether I became overwhelmed with emotion after a loss to a provincial-side like Napoli (or, for that matter, Hellas Verona) - not really. 
on the 10th February, 2020 at 7:08am
Juve will never be great other then domestically and that is also with a? Juve are so use to cheating they forgot how to play fair and hard. That's what years of cheating does in the end it will all collapse just as they r slowly allegro sari god cant help them. The media keeps praising them don't do them no justice. The chickens will come to roost.
on the 10th February, 2020 at 1:19am
Black and blue liked ur comment. Juve problem is Ronaldo he is not suited for Italy la Liga is loser league and they shipped that loser to juve. Does not do anything but wait for service. No comparison wit Messi and yet they seem to keep rewarding him with BS awards. This is setting juve back and they will not be going anywhere in CL for the foreseeable future.
on the 10th February, 2020 at 1:16am
Somehow I enjoy your pathetic moaning @Pinturicchio. Did you cry when Juve loss to Napoli? I bet you did. Hahahahahaha!!
on the 9th February, 2020 at 11:23pm
Again, wrong starting personnel on the field for Juve. Dybala or Ramsey should have started over Higuain to help the midfield break the press. Likewise, Matuidi should have played over Rabiot to help the defense and mid. Pjanic needs to be sold. Continues to be played out of position. Contributes nothing going forward. Allegri and Juve ruined him by trying to make him into a Pirlo instead of playing to his own strengths, further forward. Lastly Sarri seems unable to transmit any style of play
on the 9th February, 2020 at 7:43pm
Sarri is not for Juventus, I think he should retire or even play it sick, call it off, whatever, just step back.
Pochettino will rise the game, it hurts watching Juve's game, so much of Sarrismo. At Juventus play to win, not to make circle.
on the 9th February, 2020 at 7:24pm
PS: No top club should have a pathetic loser like Szczeseny as their 1st choice GK.

But hey, when it comes to Szczeseny, let's make sure we keep betting against the house, I'm sure we'll win for sure, right Patrici?

Not to mention, did anyone see Can's world-class strike for Dortmund vs Leverkusen? Makes me feel like a complete dolt that I talked Can into joining Juventus during a meet-n-greet in Frankfurt...
on the 9th February, 2020 at 7:08pm
1) I mentioned this on multiple occasions, previously: this is a shoddy and awful midfield, if you can call it that. Ramsey, Bentancur, Matuidi, and that bloody liability of a player called Pjanic. I swear most mid-table MFs in Serie A are better than these clumsy clowns.

2) Bonucci is clearly not a leader, and without an actual leader like Giorgio, or Barzagli, he's an awful disaster. De Ligt is taking too long to acclimatise, but it's not good fault.

3) Sarri is too 1-dimensional.

on the 9th February, 2020 at 7:03pm
Could've wrapped Serie A up already to focus on CL, zero excuses.

Sarri what style?

To many overrated, lazy and old players!

Bonucci is the weak link in defence not De Ligt, he needs Chellini to carry him.

Szcz doesn't instil any confidence in this so called 'big team.'

Dybala is on form and gets benched for average Higuain and injury prone Costa?

Ronaldo is doing all he can.

Haaland was a miss for the money.

Juve remind me of a tired CL winning team that hasn't actually won the CL!
on the 9th February, 2020 at 5:21pm
Sarri's tactics are the problem. We can't play 4-3-3 with Ronlado. Because he does not track back, and because of that the left side was wide open for Verona to attack.
on the 9th February, 2020 at 4:36pm
Sarri hasn’t found his best eleven yet, and the squad lacks the grit of Conte or Allegri’s Juve. It’s a very flat and pedestrian 4-3-3 formation. The management take some blame for not giving the coach the squad that works for his formation. All the new recruits barring Demiral and De Ligt have been underwhelming. Pjanic needs to be moved out of that position or the eleven and Ramsey deserves a run in this team.
on the 9th February, 2020 at 3:25pm
Dont worry Juventus are a shoo in for the CL, the only have to overcome Barca..and Real..and PSG.. and Bayarn...and Man City. I am sure they will manage.
on the 9th February, 2020 at 2:17pm
They shoud fire Sarri 6 mounts ago, 3 mounts ago,last mount,last weak,yesterday,today!!!
on the 9th February, 2020 at 1:27pm
Sarri has no idea how to change a game..he is stuck to a system that he doesn't gave players for..he has had enough time to start to implement his style but it isn't working. Bring back max for the last half of the season...maybe now we can appreciate how goid he was. Juve have been in deinexpensive since pogba and pillows was just the rest of Italy were even poorer
on the 9th February, 2020 at 12:02pm

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