L azio came to Turin on Saturday evening to begin a sequence of five matches that would have a huge influence on what Juventus could hope to achieve this season. With Chelsea making the same journey on Tuesday before the Bianconeri visit San Siro to take on Milan next Sunday, this will prove to be a vital week in their hopes of silverware. Here’s John and Adam with the review of Act I.
MATCH ANALYSIS (by Adam Digby)
What you are about to read is not a mistake. We have not merely copy/pasted the words from any number of previous match reports and yet what follows will have that eerie air of déjà vu. Juventus dominate match. Visiting goalkeeper puts on a world class display. Final score? Yes, you guessed it, a hugely frustrating 0-0 draw. Told you it would all be sadly familiar!
Of course it would be a dereliction of duty for us to leave it at that so allow us to flesh out some details, starting with the performance of Federico Marchetti in the Lazio goal. Long since regarded as a player of huge potential, he possesses all the qualities needed to be one of the very best thanks to a combination of size, agility and fantastic reflexes. The one doubt over him has always been his questionable positioning, often caught out by lapses in concentration but here, like so many before him, he left those missteps in the visitors dressing room and promptly won the man of the match award thanks to a string of brilliant saves.
He was guilty of one error which saw a powerful header from Leo Bonucci seem destined to break the deadlock but the crossbar came to the aid of the Biancocelsti. Sebastian Giovinco, Fabio Quagliarella and Claudio Marchisio were all denied by great stops in a match which saw Juventus utterly dominate proceedings right from the very beginning. They enjoyed 59% of possession and took 21 shots while Lazio failed to even manage a single attempt on target. The Bianconeri completed 85% of their passes. Angelo Alessio summed the game up perfectly in his post-match interview when he said:
All that was missing was that elusive goal. We created many opportunities, dominating from the first minute onwards, but we weren’t able to score.
We dominated and forced Lazio to play a defensive game. We’re aware that we didn’t manage to put the ball away, but our way of playing will remain the same: maintain a high tempo and create as much as possible.
LE PAGELLE (by John Cascarano)
Buffon 6.0 – Had little to do besides watch his compatriot Marchetti do his best impression of a ca. 2006 era him.
Chiellini 7.5 – Solid, as usual, constantly closing down defenders and winning balls after what looked like dangerous dribbles in the area. With Thiago Silva gone, he has to be Serie A’s best all around defender. Too bad Marchetti and the other 10 Laziale behind the ball were just as successful on their end.
Bonucci 6.5 – Good defending, and provided some nice passes; one of which a long ball neatly handled by Giovinco which should have been a goal. Even though it wasn’t saved by Marchetti.
Barzagli 6.5 – Solid, as usual (see Chiellini, Giorgio). Was barely bothered by Klose’s presence, much unlike how I was constantly bothered by Marchetti’s.
Asamoah 5.5 – Not sure if it was just me, but Kwadwoah seemed relatively quiet on the night. Maybe I was too distracted by Marchetti’s flying trapeze act in net.
Marchisio 7.0 – Ran like crazy, won balls, made passes, and made through runs into the middle. He’s been lacking that goalscoring touch as of late, but the center midfielders can’t always be expected to pick up the slack for the strikers, much like any fan can’t expect the other team’s goalkeeper to play the way Marchetti did yesterday on any given match against Juventus.
Vidal 7.0 – See Marchisio, Claudio + an astonishing number of tackles. Blah blah blah, stupid Marchetti.
Pogba 6.0 – Relatively muted display from Teenage Mutant Ninja Pogba. The good news for all of you is that as of March, I will no longer be able to make teenage puns regarding him, which will frustrate me, much like Marchetti’s display did yesterday.
’84 Bendtner sv – The Danish Ibrahimovic was brought on late in hopes of a Hail Mary, but even he could not unlock the mythical Marchetti. That’s saying something!
Isla 5.5 – Mauricio is slowly finding his way back to top form, even if yesterday he could not make the most of his battle on the flank with Marchetti. I mean Radu; Marchetti only appeared to be everywhere. Including my nightmares last night.
’70 Pepe 5.5 – Pepinho finally got some minutes after his long injury layoff. Usually a Lazio-killer, pitch rust and Marchetti would say ‘no dice’ this time.
Giovinco 6.5 – I’m not sure if this was a solid performance frustratingly ruined by a Lazio defense and, of course, Marchetti, or if it was a pitiful performance which was simply frustrating. Nor am I sure if Sarah Jessica Parker is the the hottest ugly woman or the ugliest hot woman in show business. He did have moments of sheer brilliance, like after the aforementioned Boner long ball, so I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and rate him as the former. Auguri, Seba! You’re the hottest ugly woman in calcio!
Quagliarella 6.0 – He should have saved some of those goals for this week. Brilliantly got his foot on a ball off a free kick which would have made for another Quaglia-Wunder-Gol, but that was ruined by… you guessed it… Biava. I’m just kidding, Marchetti.
’66 Matri 5.0 – Poor Ale. I love the guy, but he’s just been looking uncomfortable out there. Needs to find his form and fast. Nothing else to say other than some reference to Marchetti’s frustrating superman display.
ANALYSIS WRAP-UP (by Adam Digby)
As weary and worn as we are with this type of result, it would be unfair to the players to merely lump this game in with the other frustrating draws Juventus have suffered since Antonio Conte took charge of the team. Where many (if not all) of those stalemates were ultimately the result of the lack of a top class striker we have all bemoaned at various times. This was not a game where Mirko Vucinic or Alessandro Matri squandered chance after chance with a combination of selfish play and an utter lack of self-belief.
Here we saw a team at its very best, carving open the opposition time after time only to see Marchetti deny them each and every time. As hard as it will be for the Marotta haters – and those firmly against the 3-5-2 – to understand, those of us with longer, unblinkered memories remember that the club also used to draw matches when Luciano Moggi was the Director General and Gianluca Vialli or David Trezeguet were playing up front.
Of course there is room for improvement and the return of the suspended Andrea Pirlo will be a huge fillip for the team, his added creativity and ability to pull off passes other players simply fail to even think of making. If even Simone Pepe (wasn’t it fantastic to see him once again fit enough to play?) cannot score against Lazio then you know it truly is just one of those days.
As they prepare to face the reigning champions of Europe on Tuesday the Bianconeri must take every positive from this performance, knowing that such displays of dominance will result in victory far more often than this disappointment. Bonucci was quick to see those points when he told Sky Italia at fulltim:
It was a great Juventus performance, we were the only team in the game. Lazio didn’t have a shot on goal and Marchetti was the best player on the pitch. Obviously there’s anger, we’ve taken a point instead of the three we deserved.
We lacked precision in front of goal, I also could have scored but hit the bar instead. From now we’ll turn our attentions to Chelsea, it’s currently the most important fixture, given our desire to progress in the Champions League.
That is exactly what we must all now do and here at JuventiKnows we will be covering the game in our usual fashion. Keep an eye out for a detailed preview of the game while remembering this was a very good performance that deserved more than just a point.
Juventus 0-0 Lazio Video: Highlights