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Catania 1-1 Juventus: Stumbling to First Place in the Sicilian Rain

Traveling down to Sicily, Juventus faced Catania at Stadio Angelo Massimino this week-end. No red cards marred the Bianconeri’s performance this time, but rather a completely opaque first half which lead to the Rossazzurri taking the lead. After Milos Krasic tied things up in the second fraction, the match (and the skies) literally opened up. Under a torrent of rain, both teams came very close to take home the win but in the end, Conte’s boys will have to settle for another draw, leaving them on top of the Serie A standings. Adam & Marco join forces to tell you about this week-end’s events.
 

MATCH ANALYSIS      (by Adam Digby)

Coming into this match-up, every performance so far this season taught us something about Conte’s Juventus. As discussed in our latest podcast episode, Parma showed the Bianconeri will never be satisfied, the visit to Siena that they possess the mental strength to succeed even on an ‘off’ day, and the Bologna game highlighted the way their new coach’s tactical influence has already begun to reap rewards.

In a rain-soaked Sicily however, and for the first time this season, Juve’s display left more unanswered questions than answers. Can the team find a way to win when an opponent marks Andrea Pirlo out of a game? Can Eljero Elia and Milos Krasic stretch the play to ensure central midfield doesn’t just get clogged up? Is it possible for someone to be quite as orange as Fabio Grosso, without questioning what his mum got up to with an Oompa Loompa while touring Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory?

While the truth behind the latter may remain forever unknown, the first is the most pressing and Conte must hope to find a solution. Or risk seeing the teams best player thus far become a non-factor in the coming weeks. Juve fell behind midway through the first half to a goal from Gonzalo Bergessio that raises even more concern about the Bianconeri defence while Milos Krasic‘s equaliser should most probably have been saved.

Cinque Chiavi – Five Key Points to the Match

  1. The difficulty in playing at the Massimino was touched upon in our preview, and Catania ensured that was once again the case. Not losing on these tough away trips is important, but Conte’s team needs to start shining on the road too.
  2. Depth at left-back is Juve’s biggest priority during the Winter transfer window. In other news the Pope remains a devout Catholic.
  3. Conte shifted to a 4-2-3-1, a formation that gets the squad’s best players into their favoured positions. It must be hoped this weekend’s display doesn’t dissuade him from trying to use it again.
  4. Eljero Elia and Arturo Vidal started a match for the first time and their performances seemed to highlight the reasons for that. Both looked some way short of their best form.
  5. Albeit seeing less than 15 minutes of action, Fabio Quagliarella finally made his return to competitive action. A huge boost, given the impact he had last season.

 

LE PAGELLE      (by Adam Digby)

Buffon 6.5 – Covered well for a number of defensive errors but still looked far from his usual dominant self. Gigi’s Superman act has been absent for quite some time and perhaps Aaron was onto something when he said the keeper has something to prove.
 


 
Lichtsteiner 6.5 – Aside from one second half mistake the Swiss full-back put in another solid performance, linking well with Krasic and was easily the best defender on show in this match.

Barzagli 6.5 – Despite being guilty of one or two errors (but largely blameless on the goal as he switched players, inkeeping with Conte’s utilisation of zonal marking) this was perhaps confirmation of his value to the team. Even with an ankle injury he has yet to have a poor display since arriving in Turin, which speaks volumes for the way he has seamlessly slotted into life at a club like Juventus.

Chiellini 5.5 – Two major mistakes, one on the goal and one where David Suazo should have scored made for another bad afternoon for the big number three. Desperately in need of a good performance and a return to his usual intensity.

Grosso 5 – Slow to the point of being pedestrian, he was continually beaten by Alejandro Gómez who took advantage of his poor defensive technique every single time (the most important one leading to the cross for Bergessio’s goal).
 


 
Pirlo 5.5 – Not a particularly bad game from the play-maker, simply one in which he was given to time or space in which to perform. Needs to find other ways of contributing when teams pressure him the was Catania did, but also needs greater help from those around him to maximise his options.

Marchisio 6 – Did all his usual unrecognised work but was handicapped by an early yellow card. For once guilty of a poor shot when in a good goalscoring position, those who criticise him needlessly will ignore the first three games and point the finger at this performance, much like that of Pirlo alongside him, as proof they make an ill-suited pair. The truth could not be more different.

(81′) Quagliarella sv – No time to make a real impact on the game.

 
 

Krasic 6.5 – Very poor in the first half it was something of a surprise to see him remain on the field. His subsequent goal and excellent application after the break should lay some of the more ridiculous rumours of a spat with Conte to rest.

Vidal 6 – A distinctly average performance from the Chilean, lacking any real displays of quality while also wasteful in possession. Chosen in place of a second striker he failed to provide the cutting edge Juve so sorely needed.

Elia 5.5 – The man everyone wanted to see in the starting XI. We’re still waiting. A very insipid showing that was made to look even more flawed by the impact Simone Pepe had after replacing him.

(46′) Pepe 6.5 – Confirmation he should not have been rotated out of the line-up. An increase in work-rate isn’t the only thing that saw him shine brighter than his much more highly regarded replacement. Pepe offered far greater attacking threat too. A very good display.

 


 
Matri 6 – Looked increasingly frustrated as the game went on, the striker never became isolated (as often happens to a lone front-man) but was rarely afforded a sight of goal. Has proven in the past he only needs one chance, but didn’t even get that in this match.

(73′) Del Piero 6 – Wasted one superb chance and lacked his usual creative spark.

 


 
Conte 6 – Continues to work hard on every facet of his coaching & tacticians role, experimenting here with a different formation which did not work. He returned to the default attacking 4-4-2 and the players responded well, which shows just how well embedded that system has become. Recognising that he had to change before it was too late is testament to his ability. Perhaps his inexperience led him to change too much too soon, with too many changes to the line-up as well as the system.
 

 

PLAY-BY-PLAY      (by Marco Pantanella)

 

1st Half:
Buffon
Lichtsteiner, Barzagli, Chiellini, Grosso
Pirlo, Marchisio
Krasic, Vidal, Elia
Matri

 

1′ Crazy & new 4-2-3-1 formation by Conte. Business as usual for defense & central midfield (except for Grosso replacing De Ceglie), but the offensive midfielders are formed by Krasic/Vidal/Elia immediately behind lone striker Matri. Still no start for Quagliarella, but Vidal and Elia make the starting eleven for the first time (the latter also making his first ever appearance in a Juve shirt).
3′ Krasic steals the ball in midfield and feeds Matri. The Juve forward tries to do everything himself, gets past two players but then delivers a horrible cross to no one from inside the box.
5′ Elia touches his first ball, it’s a difficult control close to the corner flag. Catania win a goal kick.
6′ Counter Catania with Gomez. Slides the ball to Delvecchio, Catania win a corner. From the corner (played short), Alvarez tries a poor effort that goes very far wide of the mark.
8′ Referee Mazzoleni seems to let things slide these first few minutes, particularly some muscular challenges. English-style refereeing.
9′ Krasic tries to free himself on the right. Accelerates and swings a cross. Corner.
10′ On the developments of the corner, cross by Grosso towards Chiellini, looping header by the center-back that doesn’t worry Andujar.
12′ Big acceleration from Elia on the left side. He burns his marker, but not the second Catania defender who’d stayed behind to cover.
14′ Gomez cross for Almirón. Header over and wide.
16′ First yellow of the game: Marchisio for a foul on Catellani (avoidable card, if only Claudio had used a slide to get the ball instead of standing tackle).
17′ Pirlo dribble 25 yards out, gets fouled. Perfect range for a free-kick. But it hits the wall.
18′ Catania counter: Delvecchio trips Chiellini running after the ball.
20′ Terrible cross by Krasic straight to the opposition. On the turnover, Catania obtain a shot with Bergessio, who tries to curl it far post. He’s no Del Piero though. Wide.
21′ Another lost ball by Krasic, as he attempts a dribble and falls to the ground under his opponent’s pressure. No foul.
22′ GOAL Catania. Low Gomez cross from the right for Bergessio, who gets in front of Chiellini and slides it past Buffon. 1-0 Catania :( And yet again poor marking by Giorgio, who got outsmarted by his opponent.
23′ Chiellini tries to redeeem himself and finds a good pass for Marchisio 20 yards out. Diagonal shot by the midfielder!! Parried away by the keeper.
23′ Corner kick by Pirlo swinging under the crossbar! Andujar punches it out for another corner. Now offensive foul and free-kick Catania.
25′ Yellow card Chiellini for tripping a Catania player, following a dangerous dribble by the central defender. Bit harsh, but Giorgio doesn’t look confident today.
26′ Lodi free-kick towards the first post! Buffon punches it away.
28′ Substitution Catania: Marchese comes on for an injured Alvarez.
29′ Almirón cross towards the left wing. Catellani arms a volley with his left foot that lands just 3 yards wide of Buffon’s far post!
30′ Long ball forward towards Matri. It’s actually Vidal making the run, but it’s too long anyway, straight for the keeper.
30′ Matri must have touched the ball once or twice at the most so far.
31′ Good skill by Vidal to free some space. Flicks it to Matri. He gets sandwiched between two Catania defenders and goes down in the box. Ref waves play on.
33′ Tunnel by Gomez on Grosso, but good run back from Elia to cover him. Catania get a throw.
34′ We’re playing terrible so far. Can’t hold possession, can’t penetrate, we’re not even trying one-on-one.
35′ Good Elia dribble on the left, frees some space and should get a corner, but ref says ball is still in play.
36′ Foul Marchisio on Catellani again, slightly from behind. Could have a been a second yellow there… Claudio’s playing with fire.
37′ Long-range effort by Pirlo. Wide. Juventus cruelly lacking options & ideas.
38′ At last some good movement: Marchisio to Vidal who finds a good corridor for Matri. But Spolli is vigilant and takcles it out for a corner.
39′ On the ensuing short corner, Pirlo’s cross is too long. And Juve lose the ball yet again.
40′ Ridiculous play-acting by Spolli, who clutches his face for a high foot by Vidal. Vidal’s foot only ever reached Spolli’s waist. Catania free-kick.
43′ Cross by Elia towards Marchisio. Almirón tries to clear it and almost turns it into his own net!! Corner Juve.
44′ Nothing comes out of the CK. We’ve been really sad to look at so far.
46′ At last a good Juve play: Grosso wins the ball with a slide tackle (!) and finds Elia. The Dutchman accelerates forward from the left and obtains a foul, about 5 yards from the goal line.
47′ From the FK, Pirlo finds Barzagli inside the box!! He can’t turn to shoot and Catania steal it. It almost turns into a counter-attack but Juve get a free-kick for a Gomez foul on Chiellini.
47′ Half-time whistle. Catania lead by 1-0 after 45 minutes.

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Half-time impressions:

  • Uninspired. Confused. Slow. We’ve played very poorly so far. Catania is pressuring hard, but this scoreline is largely our own fault.
  • The biggest problem? Our complete lack of penetration & movement. Our offensive players don’t know what the hell they’re doing, going around in circles without options and eventually resorting to a long aerial ball to nowhere.
  • I think we can safely say Conte botched his starting eleven. This 4-2-3-1 formation isn’t working, Matri is completely isolated without a striking partner.
  • Individually: Elia & Krasic have been virtually absent from the pitch so far. The global team confusion has of course something to do with it, but with the kind of formation Conte put on the field, the threats have to arise primarily from the wingers. And they’re currently doing jackshit.
  • My suggested moves for the 2nd half: take out Marchisio (he’s dangerously close to a red), slide Vidal in his place, put Quagliarella or Del Piero on. Leave Krasic/Elia on for the moment, but sub their ass out in 15 minutes if their performance doesn’t improve. Let’s see what Conte does.

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2nd Half:
Buffon
Lichtsteiner, Barzagli, Chiellini, Grosso
Pirlo, Marchisio(81′Quagliarella)
Krasic, Vidal, Pepe
Matri(73′Del Piero)

 

46′ Substitution Juve: Simone Pepe comes on for a largely disappointing Elia. But if you’re planning to keep the same formation, that’s not gonna work Antonio.
47′ Golden chance Catania!!! Bergessio from the right finds Delvecchio inside the box. Towards the middle, the ex-Sampdoria player takes two steps and kicks it with his left. It goes abundantly wide from excellent position!!
49′ GOAAAAAAAAAAAAL JUVENTUS!!! Milos mothafu**ing Krasic!!!!!!
49′ The goal: Juve at last manage to penetrate. From Marchisio the ball lands to Krasic in the center. 25 yard shot by Milos, and terrible mistake by Andujar who lets the ball slip by his hand. 1-1!!
50′ 8-O OMG… FK Catania from the left, Bergessio left completely alone on the far post!!!!! Attempts to instep it and skies the ball from 6 yards out! But who the hell was marking him?????????
52′ Good cross Lichsteiner to find Matri. Cleared away by Bellusci. There was a foul by the Juve forward anyway.
52′ Yellow card Almirón for a late tackle on Vidal.
53′ Great diagonal shot from Vidal 30 yards out!! Narrowly wide! But it was touched by a Catania player. Corner.
54′ On the CK developments, Pirlo obtains a FK. Swings the ball in. Cleared again, second corner.
55′ Off the corner, ball lands to Marchisio outside the box. He chests it down and half-volleys it into row Z!!
56′ ANOTHER TWO GREAT CHANCES JUVE!!! Good Krasic cross from the right: Vidal jumps for it but gets a boot to the face as Bellusci attempts to clear it. The ball then lands to Marchisio, who side-volleys it into the back of a Catania defender!
57′ Vidal still being medicated for the hit to the face. A big bandage is applied on his head. To say Juve deserved a penalty there wouldn’t be a stretch. Meanwhile the rain is getting more pronounced in Catania.
58′ Long ball towards Gomez on the right wing, seems he might be able to get through but Buffon comes out to challenge and secures the ball.
59′ Not just rain in Catania, but thunder as well. We can literally hear it through the TV screen.
60′ Yellow card Capuano for a foul on Krasic. Good FK from the right side for Pirlo.
61′ Aerial ball towards Matri inside the box. He manages to control and turn around, but he can’t prevent the ball from going out.
62′ Very good penetration by Pepe, who does what Elia couldn’t do for 45 minutes. Gets to the byline and crosses it towards the middle, but it’s cleared away by the Catania defense!
63′ Very good chance Juve with Marchisio!!. Exchanges the ball with Matri, who sets him up for a left-footed effort on the run just inside the box!! But it’s a poor attempt over the bar!
63′ On the turnover, Bergessio cross towards the far post that almost turns into a goal!!! Buffon has to go smack it from ending its path below the bar!!!
64′ Counterattack Catania after a lost ball by Pirlo!! Bergessio on the right crosses it hard, it lands to Catellani. Counter-cross. No one from Catania or Juve can intercept it either of those times! At last, a panicky defense “passes” into corner for safety.
66′ CANNONBALL PEPE! Headed straight for the top corner, but Andujar flies to save it into corner!!
67′ Substitution Catania: Ledesma comes on for Almirón.
68′ Counter Juventus!! Following a corner. Krasic runs 80 metres, gets to the edge of the box, and fires a terrible left-footed effort low on the ground. No trouble for the keeper. What a shame!!
69′ Pepe is literally on fire!! Dribble & counte-dribble from the left side, makes space for a cross. It finds Matri!! But he can’t hit the target!!!
73′ Substitution Juve: inexplicable stuff by Conte, who takes Matri off for Del Piero. What’s ADP supposed to be? Prima punta all by himself???
73′ On-the-run shot by Ledesma from 25 yards! Straight at Buffon!
74′ Yellow card Vidal for a slide tackle on Capuano, who was running full steam ahead in the middle of the pitch.
75′ Bergessio flies off on the left wing, he’s been a real thorn in Juve’s side this game. It takes a combination of our two center-backs and Gigi Buffon to stop him.
77′ Substitution Catania: Bergessio comes off (WTF?! he was their best player!) for David Suazo.
78′ Aerial ball towards Del Piero. But he’s narrowly offside.
80′ Krasic through on the right wing, tunnels and gets past two Catania defenders!!! Perfect cross for Del Piero!! His header’s over the bar!!! AAAAAAAAAAAAARGHH!!!!!
80′ Headers aren’t ADP’s thing. :( Oh Conte, why oh why didn’t you leave Matri on? :(
81′ Substitution Juve: at last Quagliarella, on for Marchisio. Juve back to a 4-2-4 formation.
82′ Barzagli down, clipped by Suazo. He’s limping off the field. Not looking good. Meanwhile it’s raining cats & dogs out there.
84′ Barzagli’s back on the field, still limping but grinding his teeth.
85′ MONSTER MISTAKE BY CHIELLINI!!! 8-O On the rainy field, his turning control inside the box turns into a gift for Suazo!!! Thank God Buffon rushes out and gets to the ground to save it!!
86′ Good God!
88′ HORRIBLE MISS VIDAL!! OMFGGGGGGGGGGGGGG!!!!!!!!! Del Piero & Pepe exchange passes to send ADP towards the goal-line. Hard cross towards Quagliarella, touched by a Catania player. It turns into a perfect assist for Vidal at the 12-yard spot. But he balloons it completely!!!!!!!! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!
89′ HEROIC TACKLE by Barzagli despite his injury!! Andrea slides on the left wing to stop a supersonic Suazo headed for goal.
90′ Gomez counter on the left wing. He’s faced by Lichtsteiner. Moves to the center and arms his shot!!! Narrowly over & wide.
91′ I had to stop typing this last fraction of play. There was literally one chance on every end each minute.
93′ Another big chance Catania!!! Gomez towards Suazo in the center, who leaves it for Lodi on the overlap. His first touch gets him by both Chiellini/Barzagli at the same time, but it’s too deep and Buffon slides to retrieve it!!
94′ Grosso advances on the left wing and tries his luck from long range!! Over & wide!
95′ The last ENORMOUS, COLOSSAL chance is for Catania. 8-O Counter-attack Rossazzurri, the ball lands to Catellani who’s through on goal on the right side. Instead of shooting it he attempts some kind of a chip, which under the heavy rain turns into a horrible, horrible miss. THANK YOU BASED GOD… 8-O
95′ Full-time whistle by Mazzoleni. The match ends 1-1.

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Full-time impressions:

  • Storming second half (and I’m not just referring to the weather). Also because of the rain, the match literally turned on its head: it was completely open for either side to win. The last 20 minutes were insane.
  • Like I said in my first half impressions: let’s give credit to an organized and high-pressuring Catania side, but… Conte botched his starting formation. Much better in the second half, especially when we turned back to a 4-2-4 (even though what Conte did with Del Piero there is mind-boggling).
  • Today evidenced that this Juventus team is still very much a work in progress. Missing out on our first half, then rely on our grinta to turn the game around in the second, that will only work so many times. Let’s not continue down this path please.
  • Individual assessments:
    • Eljero Elia: you missed your first chance buddy. Should have been a bit more daring, and a bit more accurate with your dribbles. Didn’t miss the runs at least, just accuracy.
    • Simone Pepe: to all Pepe and Giaccherini naysayers, Pepe’s performance today just gave Conte complete freedom to select Pepe & Giaccherini for the next 10 games.
    • Andrea Barzagli & Giorgio Chiellini: Flashback to 2008 – Giorgio is one of the world’s best center-backs and Barzagli a disaster at Euro 2008. Flashforward to September 2011 – It’s starting to become the other way around. It’s absolutely fantastic to see Andrea perform like this so far, but… where the hell has Chiello gone to? First the man-marking fail vs. Bologna… now today. Ugh. :(

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Calcio Catania
CATANIA-JUVENTUS
1-1
Juventus F.C.
GOALSCORERS: 21′ Bergessio (C), 49′ Krasic (J)
CATANIA (4-3-3): Andujar – Alvarez (28′ Marchese), Bellusci, Spolli, Capuano – G.Delvecchio, Lodi, Almirón (64′ Ledesma) – Catellani, Bergessio (78′ Suazo), Gomez. COACH: Montella.
(UNUSED SUBSTITUTES: Kosicky, Ricchiuti, Lanzafame, Lopez)
JUVENTUS (4-2-3-1): Buffon – Lichtsteiner, Barzagli, Chiellini, Grosso – Marchisio (81′ Quagliarella), Pirlo – Krasic, Vidal, Elia (46′ Pepe) – Matri (73′ Del Piero). COACH: Conte.
(UNUSED SUBSTITUTES: Storari, Bonucci, Giaccherini, Pazienza).

 

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