Juventus took on relegation candidates Genoa at home on Saturday, hoping to build some degree of consistency after a commanding 4-0 victory over Udinese. The Bianconeri had struggled against the Friuliani, but two moments of magic from teenager Paul Pogba opened the floodgates and unraveled Udinese. Unfortunately, there wasn’t the same brilliance on show at Juventus-Genoa, and despite struggling mightily this season, the Grifoni clawed back to bag a goal and win a point at the Juventus Stadium.
MATCH ANALYSIS by Aaron Giambattista
Genoa’s season has gone more or less the same way it has ever since Gian Piero Gasperini left the club. They’ve bought too many players, sold too many players, and cycled coaches in a way that makes Maurizio Zamparini jealous. The Rossoblu started the season with De Canio, who was axed in favor for Gigi Delneri, who was recently axed to bring in Davide Ballardini in his 2nd stint at the club.
This was in fact Ballardini’s first match since being brought back to Genoa. He called for passion against Juventus, whereas Preziosi was certainly hoping to see a reaction after yet another coach sacking. Genoa started out the match well enough, competing equally with Juventus and stringing together a few nice plays here and there.
That disappeared rather quickly- Juventus started to assert their dominance, despite the front duo of Fabio Quagliarella and Mirko Vucinic rarely getting involved in play. Paul Pogba was dictating the passing of the game, Arturo Vidal’s hustling overran the Genoa midfield, and Claudio Marchisio’s runs were causing more issue to Genoa’s defense than two strikers.
Juventus did well with wideplay as well – Stephan Lichtsteiner and Paolo De Ceglie pressed very high up the pitch, pinning Genoa’s wingbacks into their own half and often creating chances in the box. The first came from Paolino nutmegging Pisano and passing the ball to Vucinic. The Montenegrin trapped, turned, and fired a shot, but it was blocked by Manfredini.
Minutes later, Juventus threatened again. Paul Pogba chipped a brilliant ball over the middle, and no one in Genoa’s back 3 picked up Marchisio’s incursion. Il Principino was left alone in front of Sebastian Frey, but was unable to get a clean touch on the ball and hit it wide.
Genoa’s defense looked suspect for most of the match, but Juventus was unable to capitalize. Martin Caceres drilled over from a free shot (albeit a difficult one) after a corner wasn’t cleared. Lichtsteiner sent in a delicious cross and while Quagliarella made a great run in between two defenders, he prodded it wide.
The second half started much like the first ended – Juventus was firmly into control, but unable to break through as the striking duo failed to click all match. Mirko Vucinic was more involved in the match, but his flicks and turns were easily read by the Genoa defense, and Fabio Quagliarella, his one chance aside, was completely missing.
The duo woke up only 10 minutes into the second half – Mirko Vucinic slid a great through pass to an on-rushing Stephan Lichtsteiner, whose cross was poked on target by Fabio Quagliarella with a slight deflection from Granqvist. That goal took Quagliarella’s season tally to 11, despite his limited playing time.
15 minutes later, Genoa equalized. Kucka skipped past De Ceglie on the left flank and delivered a cross to the far post. Marco Borriello beat Andrea Barzagli to the back post and nodded it in. Despite only playing 6 months for the Bianconeri, the former Milan man did not celebrate his goal – probably more out of respect to Antonio Conte and his squad than the fans.
Sebastian Giovinco was sent on for Quagliarella to try and save the result, and nearly did so. The Atomic Ant created a good number of chances in his brief 20 minutes on the pitch, including a free kick where he cracked one off the crossbar. Mirko Vucinic continued to frustrate, failing to pursue a rebound and aiming for penalties more than taking shots. The Montenegrin had two penalty shouts, but they both would have been a bit soft to call. Paul Pogba’s penalty shout was much more obvious- the young Frenchman was flattened in the box during a corner with no intent to play the ball.
In the last 10 minutes, with Genoa down to 10 men because of Floro Flores’ injury, Juventus laid siege to the Rossoblu goal, but could not find a way through. In the last minute, there was immense controversy as Granqvist cleared a cross into his own hand. Despite the goal-line referee and 4th official signalling it was a penalty, referee Guida refused to concede one. He called time seconds later, much to the fury of Antonio Conte, Mirko Vucinic and Stephan Lichtsteiner.
LE PAGELLE by John Cascarano
Buffon – 6.5: Had virtually nothing to do, as usual, but his one moment of being tested was the goal which was completely beyond his control.
Barzagli – 6.0: Was a complete beast, and completely flawless all evening…up until the tying goal.
Bonucci – 7.0: Quarterbacked the back line well, and almost chipped in offensively with a headed goal and, before that, a gorgeous long ball to an onrushing Vidal, who could not settle it. Missed a golden opportunity to win the game in extra time.
Caceres – 6.5: Was tidy on the left side of the back three, in abstentia Chiellini. Could not have asked for more, and I hope I never see Peluso in that position again.
De Ceglie – 6.5: I was overall impressed with Paolino’s performance today, as he controlled the left flank well, fought for the ball, and made some decent crosses. People will undoubtedly blame him for Borriello’s goal, while not even mentioning Barzagli’s culpability.
73′ Giaccherini – 6.0: Came on to add a bit of extra creativity, pace, and spark, but could do nothing to move the bus that Genoa parked for the latter part of the second half.
Marchisio – 7.0: Vidal was the boss, and Marchisio was the motor in the midfield today. Was seemingly everywhere and, as usual, his skill and footwork did not leave much to be desired.
Pogba – 7.0: Vice-Marchisio? Check. Vice-Vidal? Check. Vice-Pirlo? Check. Dribbled well, passed well, controlled the area in front of defense all day. The kid can do anything in a three-man midfield.
82′ Beltrame – 6.0: Was on too short of time to earn a score typically, but I liked what I saw so I threw him an above-average. Good movement, and off his first touch took a rocket of a shot which was unfortunately stopped by the keeper.
Vidal – 8.0: Completely owned the midfield and did a fine job pretending to be Pirlo, taking a dipping free kick which barely sailed high. His first half performance showed why I believe him to be the best box-to-box midfielder on Earth.
Lichtsteiner – 7.5: Owned the right flank, assisted the goal, and earns an extra +.5 for his tirade after the game. A big FU to Rai for cutting out.
Quagliarella – 6.0: Completely anonymous all night, but earns a +1 for the goal… which, in fairness, its buildup can be completely credited to Vucinic and Lichtsteiner, and the finish to an unfortunately-placed Genoa defender.
69′ Giovinco – 6.5: Was brought on to add a little something extra up front, and did. Barely missed being the hero on a free kick which ricocheted off the post.
Vucinic – 6.5: Slowly got into the game, but made things happen when he did, including the first goal. Had a legitimate complaint for being dragged down in the box, will miss the next match due to yellow card accumulation. By the way, did you know it’s a rule that if you are striker anticipating a cross, and an opposing defender obviously handles the ball in the box thus preventing you from having a clear 1 v 1 scoring opportunity, that’s an automatic yellow card for you? Neither did I!
Conte – 6.5: Has got to find a way to put games like this away. I know it’s winter and struggles/malaise are common, nay, expected. Kudos for getting fired up post-match. Much like a baseball manager taking an ejection arguing a bad call on the diamond, that’s one way to get players to respond.
ANALYSIS WRAP-UP by Aaron Giambattista
Juventus can certainly feel aggrieved about the refereeing decisions in this match. There was at least one penalty in the match- the tackle on Pogba and handball being the most obvious. But as we’ve seen so often in this possession-dominant Juventus, the team ran out of ideas- with 66% possession, Conte’s men should have been up more than 1-0 when Borriello scored.
While the knee jerk reaction is to blame the strikers, they’ve been doing surprisingly well of late. They certainly could be more efficient, but the striking group has bagged 8 goals in the last 6 games- a decent return. The midfield has chipped in a few goals too, with Pirlo, Marchisio, and Pogba all getting on the scoresheet. Unfortunately, the team has only grabbed 1 goal in 5 of the last 8 matches. In most of those matches, the opponents have made the most of their very few chances. It’s hard to blame the defense in that case.
The defense has been very strong during this period, conceding very few efforts on goal, but sadly they tend to be converted into goals. Giorgio Chiellini’s absence has been strongly felt- most of these goals have come down the left flank, with Peluso, Caceres, De Ceglie, and Asamoah all being guilty of poor defending. Chiellini is not just a physical beast in defense, he cleans up for others’ mistakes. De Ceglie failed badly at closing Kucka down for Borriello’s goal, but it was bizarre that no other Juventus player was within 10 meters of Kucka, despite his advance into the box – Caceres was missing.
It’s an incredibly frustrating situation – each player seems to be doing his job 9 times out of 10, but everyone is making that 1 mistake at the same time. If De Ceglie closes down Kucka, Barzagli’s marking error (his first in ages) goes unnoticed. Likewise if our team bagged 4 goals like against Udinese. It’s frustrating in that most of these individual errors like defensive mistakes from De Ceglie, Peluso, or Caceres shouldn’t have any correlation with our team scoring 1 or 4 goals. There’s likely no causation linked between the two.
The main discussion regarding this match will unfortunately be the refereeing controversy, not helped by referee Guida’s admission that he “didn’t feel up to awarding the penalty” despite his two colleagues signalling a spot kick. Antonio Conte and surprisingly, Giuseppe Marotta unloaded afterwords- both were rather unprofessional, particularly Marotta who hinted that the referee’s origin or fandom (Napoli) caused him the hesitation in awarding the penalty.
The team unquestionably went too far in criticizing the referee. Lichtsteiner and Vucinic hounded Guida after the final whistle was blown, and Marotta’s criticism was shocking for a typically calm and rational man. There will undoubtedly be blowback from the calcio world as well as the FIGC. Juventus would do well to channel this anger (from the referee’s errors and the criticism from the journalist world) silently into proving the club’s mettle on the pitch.
ANTONIO CONTE IL NOSTRO CAPITANO!
Juventus 1-1 Genoa Video: All Goals Plus Full Highlights