Sunday December 23 2012
Black and White Christmas

There's no doubt Juventus are on Santa's list of those who've been good in 2012, though there wasn't much goodwill to go round, as Giancarlo Rinaldi wraps up Serie A Week 18.

Keep a close eye on your chimney this Christmas. With the Scudetto in the summer, a comfortable lead in their title defence, a place in the last 16 of the Champions League and a record-breaking 94 points over 12 months, it has been a stunning year for Juventus. So don’t be too surprised if you catch Santa Claus in black and white stripes when he delivers your presents in a couple of days’ time.

Not that there was much goodwill in the Bianconeri’s Friday night triumph over Cagliari in a tie controversially played at the Stadio Ennio Tardini in Parma. A few dozen “home” fans were easily drowned out by both Juventini from the environs of Emilia Romagna and the bellowed instructions of Antonio Conte. The final outcome was harder for the Sardinians to digest than a hefty festive dinner.

“I’m disgusted by this football, I don’t want anything more to do with it,” lamented Rossoblu President Massimo Cellino. “We played a team that has not acted in a sporting manner. Last year they asked us to move the game to the evening because they were fighting for the title, this time they refused to come to Cagliari.”

“The league took the decision not us,” responded Beppe Marotta for the Bianconeri. “If we had to play this game elsewhere it wasn’t our fault but Cagliari’s, as they don’t have a ground up to the standard of holding this kind of match.” In other words, not much festive cheer in evidence.

The result put Conte’s men streets ahead of their rivals. With Juve’s “special agent” Ciro Immobile helping Genoa to secure a 1-1 draw with Inter in Saturday’s lunchtime match, their lead became even more consolidated at eight points. The Nerazzurri’s creative problems without Wesley Sneijder were there for all to see - although Marko Livaja contrived to miss a match-winning chance that will give him nightmares into the New Year.

“This break has come at the right moment, we’re having a tough time,” said Andrea Stramaccioni. “But now we’ll switch off and come back stronger than before. Everything is in place for us to have a great 2013.”

That draw allowed Lazio to leapfrog the Milanese giants into second place on their own, but still eight points adrift of the league leaders. The “slap” provided by Delio Rossi’s arrival at Sampdoria was not enough to see them deny the capital club. A single Hernanes strike, with a celebratory somersault, gave the Romans three precious points.

“We’ve worked hard for this and the last month or so we’ve started to believe we can achieve something special,” said Vlad Petkovic. “This Lazio side has done well - but not well enough to compete with Juve. We need to improve in every part of our play. This break will allow us to recharge the batteries and try to get better day by day.”

Fiorentina, too, moved up the table to join Inter in third. The constant chopping and changing in Palermo appears to have taken its toll on a side which seems to be about as appealing to its own fans as a giant bowl of Brussels sprouts. With Stevan Jovetic starting to return to form - he struck a double - the Viola sparkled too much for the Sicilians, who apologised to their own support at the final whistle of a 3-0 defeat.

“I don’t think there are many teams in Italy with a better midfield than ours,” said Florentine hitman Luca Toni. “We used to miss the chances they created, now we are taking them.”

There was a morale-boosting win for Napoli, too, as Siena - like Sampdoria - found that a new manager is no panacea. There was a lot of pent-up frustration in Christian Maggio’s celebrations when he broke the deadlock before Edinson Cavani guaranteed the points. It was the perfect present after their two-point deduction and loss of Paolo Cannavaro and Gianluca Grava due to match-betting sentences.

“This was a very important win,” admitted midfield motor Marek Hamsik. “We have always had great team spirit, but today we put our heart into the game and fought hard and took three points.”

All the teams giving distant chase to Juve will be looking over their shoulders, however, after Roma ripped up the Milan revival in Saturday’s night game. A couple of late consolation strikes should not mask the Rossoneri’s deficiencies, nor the qualities of this Giallorosso side. Zdenek Zeman’s men are a crazy bunch, but their 4-2 triumph underlined that they are capable of going on a tear which could see them rocket up the table.

When they are on-song, there is simply no more spectacular side to watch than Francesco Totti and company. As pundit Giancarlo Marocchi put it, “Roma are made to score goals, sometimes they concede goals - but they always entertain.” If they can get their focus right, they can easily sweep into second place.

“We’ve made up a lot of points from where we were 10 games ago,” insisted Max Allegri, trying to give Milan’s performance a positive spin. “We will try to finish the first half of the season on 30 points and then have a great second half of the campaign.”

“I am pleased with the way the team played - especially in the first half,” responded Zeman. “In the second half, maybe we tried to take it easier - and we can’t do that.” The subtext was that he expects his team to take the initiative and impose its style of play for the entirety of a game.

The most significant moves in the lower reaches came from Pescara and Torino with vital wins over Catania and Chievo respectively to help them enjoy their Christmas dinners a little more. But with plenty of teams still within touching distance of the drop zone, nobody should despair just yet. Maybe Santa will bring them a year like the one Juventus have just enjoyed.

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Have your say...

In Italy everyone is complaining about Referee's if they get it right hardly anyone cares. If they make a mistake it's the end of the world.

I feel the need to point out that this dominance in Italy is not the help of Referees and the Farseopoli
has left a bitter taste in my mouth.

Most of us Juventini don't complain about every referee mistake, but when we complain its usually a reaction to
what all Juve haters seem to bring up when Juve gets a favorable call.
on the 23rd December, 2012 at 2:36pm
i disagree with the old lady capello juventus was very boring and didn't play attractive football at all i think this juventus team is the closest to some of the ones lippi built i for one couldnt wait for capello to go hes football is dated and so boring to watch
on the 23rd December, 2012 at 2:26pm
@ They just haters:

"Seems the HATERS are everywhere"

-- No -- you are just paranoid. Get over yourself.
on the 23rd December, 2012 at 2:13pm
Kudos Juve.. But please stop complaining at every ref call. Your a head by miles. Having complains at every call that goes against you is just sad. Pretty sure Juve will do well in CL.. Overall the first half of seria a has been very entertaining
on the 23rd December, 2012 at 2:09pm
just one question for Cellino, why you never complaining about Roma? i think you still remember how your team defeated by 3-0 WO. and why you crying louder and louder after Juve' match? the problem is not your stadium, but the main problem is your brain and mentality! its good when we (juve) got 3 points on the pitch even we should get 3 points from WO
on the 23rd December, 2012 at 2:08pm
Though for those who are not aware, Cellino asked Juve to request from FIGC the game still be played at the Is Arenas. Juve declined to risk peoples life's just to make Cellino happy. Thus his reaction of disgust!

As for the referee errors during the game: It was appalling, gives two non existent penalties, fails to call actual penalties. Fails to send off another Cagliari player, & gives the wrong Juve player a yellow.
This was the 3rd time a non existent penalty was given against juventus.
on the 23rd December, 2012 at 2:07pm
Don't understand why people are trying to create a controversy where there should be none & Juve's involvement into this controversy is a mystery.

1. FIGC moved the Juve v. Cagliari game because the Is Arenas was not able to guarantee safety to the amount of fans expected to attend. (not the first time this season)

If you ask me, Cagliari shouldn't even been allowed to compete in Serie A this season because they have repeatedly failed to fix the issues of their stadiums.
on the 23rd December, 2012 at 1:53pm
i really do hope Juve get bochetti myself cause at some point barzagli will need to be the cover and we need another professional defender to take part in our future 3 man defence along with chielini and bonnuci, this could also benifit italy with getting bochetti on form and used to the tactics, de ceglie has improved since under conte but a back left back or winger would be extremely useful with asamoah's absense, and i'd love drogba or Llorente in january to just net the goals in 15-20 goals!
on the 23rd December, 2012 at 12:38pm
Capello's side had an attacking force of trezeguet and del piero with nedved and camoranesi providing the creativity. Not to mention zlatan and mutu as cover! Imagine this juve side with a striker of that calibre? A cavani or a falcao? Immense!
on the 23rd December, 2012 at 11:45am
Controversy !!

What a site that is full of jealousy & haters !
on the 23rd December, 2012 at 11:24am
WHERE IS THE CONTROVERSY???!!!!!! apart from asamoah not getting a foul and that ridiculous penatly cagliari received. im convinced the writers on this site hate juventus as much as the clowns who want to use us as a shield for their repeated failures as buffon said. how can they pretend that we are the one who moved the game when we simply accepted FIGC decision. They didnt complain when we accepted their ridiculous calciopoli and conte decisions. Seems the HATERS are everywhere
on the 23rd December, 2012 at 10:48am
I really don't like Boateng playing as a false no:9 in the 433 system. Pazzini should be the striker, with SES & Bojan in support. Boateng should play in midfield, sharing/rotating Nocerino's position.

The refereeing has been terrible this weekend. First Juve/Cagliari, & then last night. The young defender should never have been sent off!

Roma are fantastic & I hope that they can improve their defence & make it into the CL positions.
on the 23rd December, 2012 at 10:13am
Forza Juve! 1)Juventus 2)Fiorentina 3) Napoli/Inter is the 3 teams I want representing Italy in next years UCL. Roma and Milan the other 2 for Euro places.
on the 23rd December, 2012 at 7:22am
"Not that there was much goodwill in the Bianconeri’s Friday night triumph over Cagliari in a tie controversially played at the Stadio Ennio Tardini in Parma." -- what controversy?? it's FIGC who decided to move it to parma, not juve. Please, think before write. It's a controversy if it's juve who asked to move the match, not FIGC!!
on the 23rd December, 2012 at 5:23am
A great win for us last night, very proud of my team, and a great end to the year. After christmas lets keep going and get a champ league spot. Forza roma. Juve should try and get bocchetti, if not neto or peluso would be good as cover for Caceres. They need a defender and a top striker to have any chance to win champ league, despite what others may say.
on the 23rd December, 2012 at 4:08am
Just to point out that Capello juve played in a tougher league so that probably gives rise to supporting that team as better in terms of points total but conte has surely proved any doubters that he is a fantastic manager growing from strength to strength . One day he'll have his moment in the champions league am sure of it.

Juve have won nothing yet but surely are heavy favourites if not before to win a 2nd scudetto.

I wonder how many points juve will end up with?

battle for the ucl is epic
on the 23rd December, 2012 at 12:58am
Juve hopefully will strengthen in January to consolidate their position and make sure chiellini and asamoah won't be too missed . Not to mention our favourite topic " the top striker". They definitely don't need it for serie a the way things are going.

This juve probably is no where near as talented as that Capello one but no doubt is a better team collectively and is hungrier . To think this team this team has so much improving still to do yet has most points in serie a history is remarkable.
on the 23rd December, 2012 at 12:51am
i do sense that you too are blamin juve for moving the fixture to stadio tardini again and am sure since you are a blogger on this website it was the mayor decision to prevent the tie to go ahead at IS arena and lega calcio to move it so no need to blame juve for this.
on the 23rd December, 2012 at 12:26am

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