Juventus’ motto “Fino alla fine” (“Until the end”) is even more true against Torino. The Old Lady have won several derbies with late goals being a theme of their wins over the Granata in recent years.
One of those came in the 2014-15 campaign with today’s Juventus coach, Andrea Pirlo, netting a scorcher in the very last second of the clash, which gave Max Allegri’s side a memorable 2-1 win.
The same happened today, but this time around Pirlo was on the bench and it was a Leonardo Bonucci’s goal that gave Juventus all the three points.
Pirlo celebrated today as he did six years ago. Open arms, a roar and once the game finished, he didn’t make his way into the dressing room. He went onto the pitch to embrace his players instead. The strongest one came from the match winner.
We are not quite accustomed to seeing Pirlo celebrate this way. This time he was clearly very impressed.
The Granata took the lead in the first half through a Nicolas Nkoulou’s goal. Juventus didn’t react and could have conceded two more before the half time break. Paulo Dybala made the first shot on target for the Bianconeri after 43 minutes.
Juventus struggled to create clear cut chances in the second half too, but Pirlo’s substitutions somehow made the difference. Weston McKennie and Bonucci scored two similar goals. The American came off the bench and equalised with 13 minutes remaining. Bonucci then made it two with seconds to go. Both were assisted by Juan Cuadrado.
Juventus’ merit was in beliving they could do it but, once again, Torino were not able to defend their lead. The Granata have lost 19 points from winning positions so far this season. Nobody has a worse record in Italy’s top-flight.
The Old Lady’s win would surely leave a sweet and sour taste in Pirlo’s mouth. The three points are the most important thing, especially at this stage of the season, with many clubs still battling it out in the top positions. The Bianconeri were six points behind league leaders Milan before kick-off and they couldn’t lose any more ground after 10 Serie A matches.
They didn’t this time, but there are still many unanswered questions around this Juventus side. First of all, they always concede goals. Wojciech Szczęsny was crucial in denying Simone Zaza in the first half, when Torino were already leading by one goal. Bonucci scored the winner but his defensive performance was below par, at least in the first half. Matthijs de Ligt struggled to contain Andrea Belotti managing to just about control him. Danilo looked understandably tired after having missed only one match so far.
The midfield seems to lack quality and that’s another problem for the Bianconeri. Only Adrien Rabiot is a sure starter, Rodrigo Bentancur is not the same player as last season, Arthur has shown glimpses of quality but not quite enough on a consistent basis, McKennie can run for two players on his own but he can’t set up attacks.
Up front, Juventus need a centre forward like Alvaro Morata, who was suspended against Torino, as Cristiano Ronaldo and Paulo Dybala are not on the same wavelength like last year.
Pirlo seems to have a very clear idea of what he wants to do, but the players don't always follow him. You could tell the pressure was mounting on him and his players when the Old Lady were behind in the second half. Danilo was subbed off and threw a bottle of water on the floor.
The half-time break hadn’t apparently given Juventus players the shock one would expect. Players and staff members protested the decisions of referee Daniele Orsato. They knew they had to win or their place table would look even worse.
“Sometimes you have to win dirty,” Pirlo said in his press conference after the game.
“I wasn’t worried in the second half because we had a different approach,” he added.
“We kept trying to score right until the end, we had more players in their box, we started winning duels, I knew we would score sooner or later.”
Despite that, the celebration was still pretty unusual for a calm and quiet man like the former midfielder.
Juventus have yet to face Milan and Inter, they won by default against Napoli and pulled off draws against Lazio and Roma. They have 20 points out of 30 which, on the one hand, is an impressive result, considering all the difficulties. On the other hand, however, it looks average if one considers the Bianconeri failed to win away at Benevento and Crotone and at home against Hellas Verona.
Even during their difficult moments, Max Allegri and Maurizio Sarri’s sides gave the impression to be the best in Serie A. It's not the same feeling this time around. At this stage, Juventus aren’t the team to beat anymore. Not in Serie A, let alone the Champions League.
The spirit, however, has remained the same and Pirlo’s celebration, the same one as six years ago, proves it. The derby win was crucial for the Old Lady to remain among the top teams in the Serie A table but performances like today's won’t always be enough to seal victories.