Note: As preparations for our big JuventiKNOWS event of tomorrow are finalized (make sure to tune in ), our time is limited. Therefore here is a very reduced version of a match report, with the Play-by-Play taken from Juventus.com and very brief post-match analysis
★ ★ ★
A two-goal salvo from Alessandro Matri was enough for Juventus to see off the challenge of Spanish outfit Málaga in Salerno. The 2-0 win means the Bianconeri have come through three testing friendly encounters unscathed, providing an invaluable confidence boost as they look to exact revenge over Napoli in next weekend’s Supercoppa Italiana final.
Just two changes were made from Wednesday’s starting line-up against Benfica: Storari replaced Buffon in goal, while Lúcio stepped in for Bonucci. New signing Paul Pogba was again named among the substitutes after his transfer was officially completed Friday night.
Having started brightly with several neat moves in midfield, Juventus made their ascendancy count when they took the lead with just three minutes played. Giovinco’s cross picked out Padoin at the far post, the midfielder slipped the ball square to Matri, and the striker did the rest by wriggling free of his marker to steer a shot past Caballero.
Stung by finding themselves a goal down in the opening stages, Málaga immediately raised their game and carved out three decent opportunities to restore parity. Enzo Maresca’s (remember him?) dipping effort drew a diving save from Storari on six minutes, Joaquín then blazed over when unmarked from 12 yards, and Rodriguez found the Bianconeri shot-stopper well positioned to block his stooping header at the far post.
Inspired by an energetic Giovinco, Juventus went back on the attack. The former Parma frontman stung Caballero’s fingertips with a swerving shot towards the far post in the 26th minute, before his well-struck free-kick was again blocked by the opposition goalkeeper three minutes later.
With the seconds ticking down towards half time, Matri had a golden opportunity to double the Bianconeri’s advantage. Asamoah broke free down the left flank but the striker was unable to divert his inviting cross goalwards. Yet last season’s top goalscorer did not have to wait long to make amends, pouncing on Padoin’s low delivery across the face of goal to tuck home six minutes after the restart.
The two-goal cushion allowed Juve to express themselves with greater freedom, and Marchisio went close to extending their lead when he flashed a header wide of goal following good work from Giovinco. Málaga threatened to get back into the game midway through the second half, only for Juanmi and Joaquín to find Storari an impenetrable force between the posts.
Massimo Carrera, who urged the Bianconeri on from the touchline as Conte watched from the stands (a “trial” of sorts, in light of the looming possibility of suspension for the ex-Siena manager), allowed playing time to all the substitutes in order to ensure peak fitness levels come the start of the campaign. Goalkeeping coach Claudio Filippi (promoted assistant manager for the occasion) watched on.
In truth, the result never looked in doubt as Juventus dealt comfortably with the Spaniards’ threat and celebrated the victory their efforts warranted. Next stop: Beijing!
★ ★ ★
First and foremost: allow me to say how absolutely BADASS Juventus look with those black shirts on. As John pointed out in his aesthetic review earlier last week, “Black Death” indeed!
Secondly, this was a good test for Juventus before the Supercoppa next week against Napoli, and one the Bianconeri passed quite well I would say. Málaga finished last season in 4th place in La Liga, and have — under sheik Abdullah bin Nasser bin Abdullah Al Ahmed Al Thani — starting acquiring a myriad of stars and high-profile players (Demichelis, Mathijsen, Duda, Buonanotte, Joaquín, Julio Baptista to cite a few). They gave Juventus a good run, but Conte’s team dominated most of the proceedings and more importantly struck when it counted (the Spaniards on the other hand, were rather wasteful whenever a good opportunity landed at their foot, also thanks to some very good defending by the Juve backline & goalkeeping by Marco Storari).
Speaking of defending, the continuing experiment of Lichtsteiner/Marrone as CBs is getting more and more nods of approval among the Juventini population. Luca Marrone‘s cool-headedness and leadership as the center of the backline is not only surprising, but a most-welcome extra weapon Conte might be able to use this season, especially with Bonucci’s possible suspension (the defender received a standing ovation as he was substituted on Saturday) and the current injury problems Juve’s CBs are facing. The same must be said of Stephan Lichtsteiner, who was absolutely rock-solid and thwarted Málaga’s incursions on the left wing on a good number of occasions.
Up front, it was good to see Alessandro Matri score a brace and confidence progressively return. The forward missed a sitter in front of the net Saturday, but his two goals prove yet again that when it’s time to score, Matri is usually top of the list among Juve strikers doing the job. Also particularly impressive was the work of Sebastian Giovinco, who not only made himself threatening with dribbles and short-range free-kicks, but whose understanding and interplay with old Primavera buddy Claudio Marchisio (excellent performance from him as well) was an absolute joy to watch. One really hopes these two will become the backbone of Juventus in the very near future (it certainly already is the case for Principino).
Now, as sentencing from the Calcioscommesse trial are due and the Italian sport “justice” renders its verdict (Conte, Bonucci, and Pepe will know their fate on August 8 or 9), the team prepares to fly off to Beijing and get a bit of revenge against those who spoiled ADP’s last appearance in Bianconero. No quarter will be given!!
|GOALSCORERS: 3′, 51′ Matri 51(J)
| JUVENTUS (3-5-2): Storari (90′ Leali) – Lichtsteiner (77′ Bonucci), Marrone (90′ Rugani), Lúcio (77′ Masi) – Padoin (77′ Untersee), Vidal (46′ De Ceglie, 90′ Ziegler), Pirlo (77′ Pogba), Marchisio (90′ Pazienza), Asamoah (77′ Giaccherini) – Giovinco (77′ Boakye), Matri (77′ Quagliarella). COACH: Carrera.
UNUSED SUBSTITUTES: /
UNAVAILABLE: Chiellini (injd), Barzagli (injd), Isla (injd), Pepe (injd), Vucinic (injd).
REMAINED IN TURIN: Iaquinta.
| MÁLAGA (4-4-2): Caballero – Jesús Gámez (59′ Sanchez), Demichelis, Mathijsen (46′ Weligton), Monreal (86′ Eliseu) – Joaquín (79′ Buonanotte), Maresca (59′ Camacho), Toulalan, Isco (86′ Duda), F.Portillo – Fernandez (59′ Juanmi). COACH: Pellegrini.
UNUSED SUBSTITUTES: Kameni.