Monday January 14 2013
Not so deadly Juventus?

The Scudetto race has been blown wide open as Juventus again failed to win. Giancarlo Rinaldi wraps up the Week 20 action.

A few weeks ago we were calling them Ammazza-campionato – the Championship Killers – such was the ruthless manner in which Juventus were dispatching their rivals. But that was before the trigger jammed against a seemingly stricken Sampdoria and a relatively routine hit at Parma went awry. Could the cold-hearted executioners of Serie A have suddenly gone soft?

Of course, a mission to the Ennio Tardini is no easy one to put away these days. But, nonetheless, this Juve side has made a hallmark of smothering the life out of Italian football’s lesser lights with terrifying efficiency. Two successive failures to win after taking the lead are about as rare as Antonio Conte finishing a match with his voice intact.

Last week it was baby-faced Mauro Icardi who turned the tables on the Bianconeri, this week it was 21-year-old Nicola Sansone who did the damage. All the goals have served to emphasise a Giorgio Chiellini-shaped hole in the Juventus defence. Gary Hooper and company at Celtic would do well to take note in the build up to their Champions League clash.

There was also criticism for Mirko Vucinic after an ill-advised dummy played a part in setting up the goal which cancelled out a lead gained via a deflected Andrea Pirlo free-kick. However, his Coach stepped in to save his Montenegrin bacon by saying he had called on his player to leave the ball. It was either remarkable honesty on Conte’s part or a marvellous exercise in shielding a player from a bashing by fans and Press alike.

A disappointing side-order to the game was trouble outside the ground when a group of Juve fans reportedly attacked a bar known as a meeting point for Parma supporters. A couple of people suffered minor injuries and there was widespread damage. Not a major incident, perhaps, but about as welcome as Luciano Moggi’s recent decision to enter the world of politics.

That shouldn’t take the shine off the efforts of Roberto Donadoni’s men, the only side undefeated at home in Serie A. “Juve have been setting the standards for 18 months in Italy, so that speaks volumes about our performance,” glowed their boss. “Sansone is a boy who is growing, who is hungry to show what he is worth – that is why he works so hard. But that’s the spirit throughout the team.”

“We were in control and I’m sorry to leave two points here,” lamented Conte. “I was disappointed with our display against Sampdoria, but not in this one.”

The result allowed Lazio to narrow the gap to just three points at the table top, but only after Sergio Floccari did his best impression of Luis Suarez to break the deadlock with Atalanta. He clearly controlled the ball with his hand before thumping home the opener in a 2-0 triumph. The debate about whether it was deliberate proved – like a chewy chunk of Torrone – something for everyone to get their teeth stuck into.

Lazio President Claudio Lotito, poured on the persecution complex. “Every time we win they say we were done a favour, nobody mentions our ability,” he said. “But whoever saw this game knows Lazio deserved to win.”

“The handball changed the game because after that we lost our cool and started to pick up yellow cards and a red,” responded Atalanta boss Stefano Colantuono. “We were unlucky last year with the same referee in Florence when they got a goal thanks to a handball by Lorenzo De Silvestri. We also need to look at the touchline officials who are supposed to be there to help the referees.”

A lot less contentious was Napoli’s win over struggling Palermo which moved them closer too. Their appeal against a two-point deduction and the loss of two players – Paolo Cannavaro and Gianluca Grava – to a match-betting sentence will be held later this week. If successful, they would join Lazio just three points adrift of Juve – a more welcome situation than a house-visit by San Gennaro.

“We started off badly and I was getting angry, they could have scored,” admitted boss Walter Mazzarri. “But we sorted things out at the back. On our first or second attack we got a goal and that smoothed things out for us.”

Also moving on up were Inter thanks to a Saturday night success against Pescara. “The team is starting to rediscover its character and its balance,” beamed Andrea Stramaccioni. “We’ve made a clear and big step forward in terms of our play, which had been a problem against sides which covered up well.” And he also played down Antonio Cassano’s apparent huff at being substituted as just part of how determined his player is to perform well for the club.

It was Fiorentina and Roma who slipped up in the chasing pack, both sides regretting missed chances. The Viola had the lead in Udine before a contentious penalty, a touch-and-go offside goal and a dreadful goalkeeping slip-up turned the game. Roma, meanwhile, were undone by the magic of Papu Gomez in Catania after having their opportunities in the first half.

That left a door open for Milan to make significant progress up the table at Sampdoria, but they slammed it in their own faces with a drab 0-0 draw. It was supposed to showcase the sparkling youth of the Rossoneri’s attack with Stephan El Shaarawy, Bojan Krkic and M’Baye Niang all starting. Instead, the game had all the vim and vigour of a pensioners’ party. “That was one ugly Milan,” grumbled Zvonimir Boban in the Sky Italia studio.

The big moves at the bottom end of the table came from Bologna, Cagliari and Torino. The Rossoblu had a pretty straightforward stroll against Chievo, but the Sardinians had to come from behind at home to Genoa to get their victory. As for the Granata, they had old-boy Alessandro Rosina to thank for a missed penalty for Siena which ensured they won a gripping 3-2 clash. It left the Tuscans looking certainties for Serie B but, like Juve’s title hopes, maybe we shouldn’t be taking them for granted.

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Have your say...

Get rid of Conte! That is just about the most disrespectful, ungrateful comment I have heard this season. Without Conte Juventus would not be defending Scudetto champions, we probably wouldn't even be in the Champions League, let alone be in the last 16. Have you forgotten where we were 3 years ago, being beaten 4-1 by Fulham with sub-standard players like Diego, Felipe Melo, Amauri and Poulsen. The only true way of responding to this comment is to say you sound just like an Inter fan.
on the 18th January, 2013 at 8:25am
great site and interesting view of current serie a

I wonder if anyone feels that celtic have any chance of progressing to the quarter-final of champions league

is there any chance for the green & white hoops over two games v the old lady of turin?
on the 16th January, 2013 at 9:27pm
everyone just relax, january is just a month that Juve is used to do bad stuff. the only thing we need now is just a striker, all of the other players are just doing good. except for padoin of course in my opinion. most of our key players are injured right now. believe me that when Marchisio, Chiello & Asamoah returns by late jan or early feb. points gonna rain on us.
on the 15th January, 2013 at 11:11pm
Without getting a top quality striker, and his continuous line of excuses, Marrotta is just riding his luck. But eventually this midfield is going to tire out and stop scoring goals, and our fowards can't finish chances.
on the 15th January, 2013 at 2:46pm
L0L !!! When they come out of the closet, they thick & fast.

Still crying over the Muntari Phantom goal, even though Matri had a legitimate goal ruled offside. Juve fans even forgot about the non existant penalty given to Milan last year.

People must be ignorant to think that Conte does the signing of players. Incase they didn't know, there's a guy called Marotta who does that for Juve.

Oh well such is life..

on the 15th January, 2013 at 12:33pm
Juventus without Asamoah will continue to struggle. Smae thing happened when he left Udinese.
on the 15th January, 2013 at 3:34am
You juve fans and your excuses first half of the season bad performances and loses were down to not having conte.wait til conte wait till conte he's back and they lose to a 10 man samp and tie parma both after taking the lead I thought juve were going to tear it up. Its all fine that juve is best side in serie a at moment but damn take your loses.on another note anyone check that youngster in the inter match kid did real good. And start giving lazio some credit they're doing very well
on the 15th January, 2013 at 12:43am
I don't think we need to play 3-5-2 every game, a 4-3-3 should be adopted at times with Giovinco playing wide in his best position. A Bomber striker is a necessity and I also think we need a better Right Wing Back as Lichtsteiner and Isla offer good energy but their service and delivery is poor and wasteful most times.

But I can't complain too much we're still firmly in the driving seat, maybe we enjoyed the winter break a little too much! But they do need to find their feet again and quickly.
on the 14th January, 2013 at 8:47pm
As a juve fan, I have high standards. I have come to the end of my tether with conte. Sack this sucker in the summer and get mourinho. Great business signing bendtner. Great job in becoming over reliant on Pirlo, an old man. Great job passing up on van Persie, how stupid must conte feel about that. That's y mourinho is better then all of these suckers. Conte better man up, or he'll end up like vilas boas
on the 14th January, 2013 at 6:56pm
conte's tactics are similar to the other ugly football playing master called mourinho. their tactics are based on full on intensity and high pressing. fortunately though this isn't sustainable and players ultimately get tired or begin to lag. last year the muntari goal allowed them to get thru the tough january period unscathed but no more. no wins in 90 minutes in 3 games in 2013. vs Milan they were incredibly lucky. vs parma. a massive deflection got them a point.
on the 14th January, 2013 at 4:21pm
Splash out 20 miil. on David Villa, Sanchez or Pedro or get Lloriente for 7 mill. Sell Mari for 7-8 mill. Let go of Bendtner ASAP.
on the 14th January, 2013 at 4:12pm
Wait till Chiellini, Marchisio & Asamoah returns, then the Juventus show shall continue from where it left off.

Now the striker debate. Drogba is too old & expensive, Lisandro is also another expensive option & then there's Llorente, given the history of Spanish players in Serie A, I wouldn't hold my breath for him.

PS: Has anybody noticed that (insert facepalm) Nicklas Bendtner is injured ? I guess not, so much for his contribution to the team...
on the 14th January, 2013 at 4:10pm
feeling so bad and upset when saw Fiorentina lost so easily by Udinese. After blunder by Neto our spirit less than usual... praise for Borja after fall tackled by udinese player can flashing down the potential running to goal by dinatale Forza Viola Avanti Viola...
on the 14th January, 2013 at 2:46pm
@Forza Juventus

Yeah, good run of 14 games. Don`t be ridiculous. But, Petkovic boys will talk on the pitch, when Giuve come to Rome. You will see. ;)
on the 14th January, 2013 at 1:50pm
for me juve still need a good striker, yes there missing a few players but i think if they want to get to the final of the champions legue and win seria A they need a top striker up front
on the 14th January, 2013 at 1:31pm
chielini is a massive loss.... one of the best defenders in the world
on the 14th January, 2013 at 1:19pm
Juve are over-reliant on Pirlo's creativity. Take him out of the team and they are a very industrial side. They could do with another schemer in the side. Giovinco is clearly not a central forward. He would play much better, out on the left, in a 433. Another problem is Lichsteiner. I have lost count of the number of times where he has elected to shoot, from an acute angle, instead of squaring/crossing the ball. I partially blame him for the low goal tallies of the strikers.
on the 14th January, 2013 at 12:46pm
Lol how can you down play juventus just after 1 loss and 1 draw, we are missing asamoah marchisio chielini and simone pepe, along with vucinic just off form, any other day and we would have took home 3 points if all players were available at conte's disposal, and I wouldn't put to much hope on lazio but more on napoli and fiorentina to start rolling up there sleeves and start catching up, lazio are just having a good run, but nothing to be worried about when the big fixtures come along
on the 14th January, 2013 at 11:36am

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