Juventus 3-1 Atalanta: UNDEFEATED & Forlorn. Goodbye Alessandro…

Juventus welcomed Atalanta in a festive mood Sunday. The Bianconeri had sealed their 30th Scudetto on their away trip to Trieste, and the Orobici had nothing to play for after an impressive return to Serie A. Atalanta coach Stefano Colantuono stated that stopping Juve’s undefeated record was “not an obsession” and sure enough, the Nerazzurri would play much like the “Pilgrims” from Parma did in the first match of the season where Juve’s technical superiority showed through. But Sunday was about much more than just an unbeaten record, and the mood a little less festive because of it. Sunday was about the last home game and homage to the greatest player that ever donned the Juventus shirt and armband, the one true figure to be universally loved by all Juventini worldwide, our leader, our idol, our captain. Sunday was about ALESSANDRO DEL PIERO.

MATCH ANALYSIS      (by Aaron Giambattista & Lars Aabjerg Pedersen)

Neither team started the match with their strongest sides. Though Atalanta’s choices were forced by suspensions and injuries, Juventus opted to give starting nods to Giaccherini, Marrone, Padoin, Estigarribia, and Storari, all those basically who had participated to squad rotation through the year but had not featured as ‘sure starters’ yet.

Atalanta picked things up brightly enough through Udinese outcast Germán Denis, who had a decent header on goal saved well by Storari. Juventus got back in the game however, with a few corners and a shot from a very motivated Marco Borriello: the Juve forward battled hard for every ball in the box, and was a key figure in breaking the match open in the 10th minute. Setting up Luca Marrone with a lovely backheel pass, Marco watched as the Turin-bred-and-born midfielder slammed the ball with a fierce shot into the near post. 1-0 Juventus.

The match continued on an even pace: both teams committed a fair amount of fouls and neither had any particularly decent efforts on goal. Simone Padoin was rather involved in the match, battling hard and winning the ball back several times against his former teammates. The midfielder could have gone for goal after breaking clear inside the Atalanta box, but attempted to cut a pass in the middle to Alessandro Del Piero, allowing the ball to be intercepted and cleared. It seemed obvious that everyone on the pitch was trying make ADP score but in truth, they should not have worried. Il Capitano would take matters into his own hands and get his reward soon after.

In the 28th minute, after receiving the ball on the edge of the penalty area, looking up, and perfectly placing his shot in the left-bottom corner out of the goalkeeper’s reach, Alessandro Del Piero scored yet another wonderful goal for Juventus. Soon surrounded by his teammates (including Storari!) for an extremely emotional celebration, ADP had effectively ended all remaining concerns as to whether Juventus would retain her unbeaten status over the 2011-12 season.

That goal – Del Piero’s 289th in 704 matches – cemented what was already felt by millions of Juventini worldwide, namely that this game, however important for the record books an undefeated season is, was all about one thing: giving our Pinturicchio the perfect send-off in his last home game for the Bianconeri. As the RAI commentator rightly noted, when Il Capitano was subbed off to receive a breathtakingly heartfelt standing ovation from the entire Juventus Stadium, “the football match was nothing but a detail”.

Even so, the result did matter enough for the team to play through the massive distraction of the crowd, as all eyes were on Alex doing a lap of honour around the stadium, saluting what felt like every single fan in the stands in a show of monumental mutual affection. Even though Atalanta got one back through a Lichtsteiner own goal – one that, for a while, seemed to ensure that the Swiss would have scored both the first and the last goal of the season at our new home – Juve laid the match to rest in the end with a penalty goal from… Andrea Barzagli!

That it was the big, quiet Andrea who was spurred on to execute the penalty by the crowd and Juve players on the field was a very nice touch, as Barzagli has been perhaps the most unsung of our heroes on this remarkable journey. The most consistent Bianconero over the last 18 months by some margin, the centre-back became the 20th goal scorer for the Old Lady this season, emphasizing once again how much of a team effort this sensational, invincible campaign has been.

LE PAGELLE      (by Aaron Giambattista)

Storari 6 – Very assured coming off his line, made a few decent saves throughout the match before being beaten by one of his own players. Still a tremendous keeper to have on the bench.

Lichtsteiner 6 – Surged forward in the first half keeping Atalanta’s defense stretched, but slowed in the second. Provided decent passing and a good cross or two. Unfortunate to score the own goal, but in the grand scheme of things it didn’t matter.

Bonucci 7.5 – Superb defending again from Leo, who arguably has been Juve’s best center-back in the last month or so. Tackled well, intercepted the ball, and provided several excellent long passes to open Atalanta up. Ready to play his part at Euro 2012.

Chiellini 6.5 – Didn’t glue to Denis like he has in past games, but still won his fair amount of balls and cleared the danger when necessary. Unfortunately got himself injured in the last few minutes, a muscle strain which will keep him out of the Coppa Italia final.

(88′) Barzagli 6.5 – Came on for the injured Chiellini with a few minutes to go. The 6.5 rating is for scoring a perfectly-placed penalty, and making it a total of 20 Bianconeri who scored goals this season! The very definition of teamwork.

Estigarribia 6 – Had his hands full with Schelotto for much of the match, and that resulted in a fairly defensive performance. I’m not a big fan of Marcelo, but if Juventus can negotiate the price down from €5m to about €3-4m then he might be worth it. He’s a competent reserve who has not yet fully displayed his abilities, and has already spent a year under Conte’s system.

(66′) Quagliarella 6Eta Beta‘s movement is excellent, but he’s playing a different role than he did under Delneri. Had a few decent efforts but nothing concrete.

Marrone 7 – Excellent match from young Luca. Showed his defensive abilities as well as his offensive, drilling a screamer into the near post to open his Juve scoring account. After having spent last year at Siena under Conte, it is clear il Mister appreciates him and for good reason. With a lot of untapped potential, remains to be seen where Marrone will play next season.

Pirlo 6.5 – Didn’t pass as much as in previous matches, nor cut open Atalanta over & over. But still, a great display from Il Maestro that just further confirms his status as one of the best midfielders in Europe. A true Campione d’Italia.

Padoin 6 – Like Marrone, a good midfield display. His defense and passing were excellent, and did not look out of his league. A good reserve to have in the team, but perhaps he’s not entirely necessary.

Giaccherini 6.5 – Not as incisive on his flank as Alex Del Piero, but that’s simply a reflection of their different natural roles. Executed a lot of cutting passes though and provided ADP with the assist. Deservedly called up to Prandelli’s Azzurri squad.

Del Piero 10 – There have been many things said about Alex in these last few days. I’d simply like to sum them up with one brief comment: it has been an honor and a joy to watch il Capitano all these years. As a stadium banner recited, we are “adding the most beautiful star onto our chests, but losing the greatest one of them all on the pitch. Grazie Alex.”

(57′) Pepe 6 – Sent on for Ale’s standing ovation. Running as usual but not much extra.

Borriello 7 – Is this the real Borriello? Battled hard up front and more or less produced two assists: a lovely backheel for Marrone and earned the penalty that put Barzagli on the scoresheet. Looking like he had a point to prove (and indeed he does), Marco is still desperately hoping to be signed in full by Juventus.

Conte 9.5 – Before the Atalanta game, Juventus was one step away from many historic achievements: being the only unbeaten team in the 38-game season format, the 2nd team in Calcio history to go unbeaten & win the title, and clinch the best defensive record in a single season ever. All that was missing was Sunday’s victory, and Conte delivered it. All hail il Mister. We’d have given you full marks Antonio, but sorry: there can truly only be ONE #10 for this match.

PLAY-BY-PLAY      (by Marco Pantanella)


1st Half:
Lichtsteiner, Bonucci, Chiellini, Estigarribia
Marrone, Pirlo, Padoin
Giaccherini, Del Piero, Borriello


Here we are!! The last official match of the season at Juventus Stadium!! And the moment to officially celebrate a hugely deserved 30th Scudetto, as the Serie A trophy will be presented to capitan Del Piero at the end of the match.
Very emotional game for ADP as well, in his last appearance at Juventus Stadium. :’( No, I refuse to accept that it’s true. :’((((
Beautiful choreography by the Juventus stadium crowd: the central part of the arena is spelling the word “JUVE” in black & white, alongside a green, white, yellow “Scudetto” tricolore! The curva is unrolling a huge Juventus logo with the 3 stars!
The teams are coming out of the tunnel. Juventus are playing in pink. All Juve players are carrying their respective children in their arms!! Boys in Black & White, girls in pink. :D What an awesome sight!
Many expected Conte to just make a few tweaks for this game, but there has been a MASSIVE squad rotation in effect: Storari, Estigarribia, Marrone, Padoin, Borriello, Del Piero, Giaccherini are all starting. Ample space is dedicated to those with less playing time during the year, with most of the usual starters all on the bench, with the exception of Gigi Buffon. Gigi is present of course, but the official backup goalie for this match is Alexander Manninger… some playing time in sight for him perhaps too?
Juventus will take the field in a 4-3-3 formation, which makes a return after many many days spent using the 3-5-2.
1′ Referee Gabriele Gava officiates. And we’re off!!
2′ First central run by ADP trying to find space, but he’s brought down. No foul says the ref.
3′ DENIS! First chance goes to Atalanta, who puts Storari to work with an angled close-range effort the Juve keeper is forced to punch into CK. Nothing comes out of it.
5′ Pirlo-pass-for-Lichtsteiner™, cleared away into corner by Peluso.
6′ Off the corner, low pass for ADP but he scoffs it!! Counter-attack by Atalanta but Schelotto can’t adjust his cross.
8′ BORRIELLO!! Diagonal run by the ex-Genoa striker, who follows a great through ball by ADP, takes aim and misses the frame of the goal by only a few yards!!
Luca MARRONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :D
10′ The Goal: Muscular penetration on the left-handside of the Atalanta box by Borriello who, after a play with Giaccherini, backheels it for Marrone who unleashes a ripper inside the left post!! 1-0 Juventus!!
11′ This goal by Marrone brings the total of Juventus goalscorers this season to 19 players!!!
11′ Now Borriello steals the ball from Lucchini, but commits a foul. He was clear inside the area, one-on-one with Frezzolini.
14′ Bonaventura is fouled outside the Juve box. Carmona executes the 25-yard FK but sends it over.
16′ PADOIN!! Steals the ball outside the Atalanta box, and penetrates inside with the opportunity to shoot!! But he chooses to try and find ADP instead, and the ball is intercepted and cleared!! Big chance Juventus!
19′ PADOIN again! Space for the former Atalanta man, who practically finds a red carpet extended for him just outside the Frezzolini’s box. He rifles a shot in but it’s blocked.
20′ Counter Atalanta. Moralez crosses it for Bonaventura, who gets rid of Padoin but commits a foul. FK Juve.
21′ Big roar at Juventus Stadium, as the giant jumbotron just displayed Novara has taken the lead vs. AC Milan at San Siro.
22′ Good central run by Giaccherini. He slides it for Borriello inside the box. His shot is blocked by a defender.
24′ Giaccherini & Borriello combine again. This time Frezzolini rushes out to clutch the ball before Marco can get to it.
Alessandro DEL PIEROOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :D
28′ The Goal: It just HAD to happen. A goal by Alessandro Del Piero in today’s game!!! :mrgreen: Counter-attack Juve. ADP leads it, Borriello cuts across diagonally, Del Piero holds on to the ball and slides it to Giaccherini inside on the left. Giac gives it back to ADP just outside the box, and il Capitano curls it inside the left post with a clinical shot. 2-0 Juventus!!
29′ Very emotional celebration for ADP. He’s surrounded by the entire team on the field, including Storari.
30′ DENIS!! Wreaks havoc inside the Juve box, escapes Chiellini, but then skies his left-footed effort from excellent position!!
33′ A penetrating run by Cazzola inside the Juventus box is stopped with an energic shoulder-barge by Bonucci. Clean, efficient, and powerful. Great defending by Leo.
34′ BORRIELLO! Muscular defending of the ball by Marco inside the Atalanta box. He gets rid of Lucchini (commits a foul perphaps) but then sends his effort over the bar!!
39′ Not much happening in these last 5 minutes, which we can take as an opportunity to state there isn’t much at stake here for Atalanta, who have already mathematically clinched safety from relegation. For them, it’s just about bragging rights against the newly-crowned Campioni d’Italia.
44′ PADOIN!! After a series of bounces outside the Atalanta box, the ball lands to Padoin who rifles it in! Frezzolini gets down to parry and is eventually saved by his defense, as the spilled ball is cleared into safety.
45′ Off at the other end, a superlative Bonucci stops Moralez’s dribbling attempt dead in its tracks.
46′ Half-time. In the first 45 of the last 90 minutes of their Serie A season, the Bianconeri are leading by 2-0 against Atalanta.

2nd Half:
Lichtsteiner, Bonucci, Chiellini(89′ Barzagli), Estigarribia(66′ Quagliarella)
Marrone, Pirlo, Padoin
Giaccherini, Del Piero(57′ Pepe), Borriello


46′ We’re back. No changes for either team.
47′ BORRIELLO! Muscular defense of the ball again to find some space inside the box. Tries to put power into his shot by falling down, but it’s well-held by the Atalanta keeper.
50′ Lichtsteiner tries to find space on the right. His cross is blocked into corner. Nothing comes out of it.
51′ Substitution Atalanta: Minotti & Gabbiadini come on for Schelotto & Moralez.
56′ Danger Atalanta! Ball filters inside the box for Denis, whose shot finds the opposition of Chiellini into slide-tackle. Then Bonucci clears the danger.
57′ Substitution Juve: It’s the moment of Alessandro Del Piero.. Simone Pepe is ready to come on.
58′ The entire stadium is on its feet! Del Piero moves to the center circle and waves to the chanting crowd. He bows. He embraces each and everyone of his teammates one by one. Even the Atalanta players participate in the farewell of perhaps the greatest Juventus player that ever donned the shirt. :’((((
59′ Emotional embrace on the sideline with Gigi Buffon, then with each of the substitutes on the Juventus bench. ADP’s moment continues: the entire stadium sings the chorus of “C’E’ SOLO UN CAPITANO”.
61′ No one is interested in following the game anymore. All eyes are towards Del Piero!! The Juventus Stadium applause, which started a few minutes ago when the substitution was announced, has still not subsided. ADP stands up on his bench seat and waves back to the crowd, sending them kisses.
62′ SOTTO LA CURVA!! The fans are calling Del Piero under the stands! After waving to them “after the match”, ADP gets up from the bench and obliges his adoring fans.
64′ Under the Curva Sud, one by one, ADP picks up all the Juve scarves that are thrown to him. What an incredible moment at Juventus Stadium here today. :D
65′ BONAVENTURA!! Slamming shot by the Atalanta midfielder, deflected by a fingertip save onto the post by Storari!! Almost stealing ADP’s thunder!!
66′ Substitution Juve: Quagliarella comes on for Estigarribia.
69′ Del Piero continues his farewell tour. He now proceeds to the Curva Nord.
71′ DEL PIERO GRAZIE DI TUTTO are chanting the fans. ‘Del Piero, thank you for everything’, as ADP completes his stadium tour. If he could, he would hug each and every one of these 40,000 fans one by one. :’)))))))))
73′ ADP is back onto the Juventus bench in the stands.
75′ QUAGLIARELLA! Curling effort from the corner of the box. Smothered by a deflection, and well-held by Frezzolini who goes down to save.
79′ ADP, who until then had seemed in great control of his emotion, now showing clear signs of being very misty-eyed. :’)))))
82′ Substitution Atalanta: Cigarini comes on for Cazzola.
83′ Goal Atalanta. Lichtsteiner own goal.
83′ The Goal: Cross-shot from the right wing by Atalanta. Lichtsteiner tries to anticipate Gabbiadini, and sends the ball into his own net. 2-1
86′ Chiellini slips!! Bonaventura is through on goal but is eventually stopped by Bonucci in conjunction with Lichtsteiner, who clear the danger before it threatens Storari.
87′ Chiellini is still down. It seems that he pulled a muscle in the previous play.
88′ Substitution Juve: Barzagli comes on for Chiellini, who seems very much in pain but at least walks off the field under no assistance. Giorgio’s almost in tears though. :(
89′ This is all also very unlucky for Alex Manninger, who was getting ready to come on for Storari. Manninger is the only player in Juve’s roster to not have featured a single minute this season.
90′ PENALTY-KICK Juventus!! Borriello is held down inside the area by Lucchini, and the ball then bounces off an Atalanta player’s hand. Unsure what foul the referee called here, but it’s PK all the same.
90′ AMAZING! The entire Juventus Stadium roaring for Barzagli to take the penalty-kick!! :D Looks like the designated takers will happily let Andrea do the honours…
Andrea Barzagli!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :D
91′ The Goal: The only player from Juve’s usual ‘Starting 11′ who had not scored this year, Andrea Barzagli transforms the spot-shot with power! 3-1 Juventus!!
91′ With Barzagli, Juventus now count 20 players who have gotten on the scoresheet this year!! La forza del gruppo!!!!!!

I just spotted a “300″-themed banner in the stands featuring Antonio Conte & his players as Spartans. The text reads “QUESTA E’ LA JUVEEEEE” (THIS. IS. JUVEEEEE). I absolutely MUST have it!! :D
The stage for the awards ceremony is now being built on the pitch of Juventus Stadium, where Juve will be presented with the official Serie A “trophy”.
Andrea AGNELLI takes the microphone for a pre-ceremony speech.
Agnelli: “It was an exceptional year, we started here on September 8, discussing Juve’s habit of winning. We haven’t lost that habit. We’ve won, we’ve found it again and we are champions. And the first thank you I owe to you, the fans. You remained close to us over the last two very difficult years, for that a very heartfealt thanks. Thank you also to all my colleagues… Starting with Antonio. Thanks to Pavel, Beppe, Nino… Thanks to all the Juventus staff. Thanks to John and Lapo. And a big thanks must be given to Alessandro Del Piero, because he has been and always will be our Capitano. And to Gigi, who wore the armband on the field so many times this year. Thanks to my family for the time I have taken away from them. And thanks to the millions of fans. And now to Rome! Fino alla fine…
      … * the Juventus Stadium crowd completes Agnelli’s words * …FORZA JUVENTUS!
As the family members of all Juve players start to gather near the red carpet, the jumbotron is showing ADP’s lap of honor again. Sigh. :’((((((((((
All the player’s children are wearing mini-Juve shirts with their dads’ shirt # :D So cute!
Here we are! The Serie A trophy has been brought out. Shouldn’t be long now.
20 children walk out the tunnel and take their place on the red carpet. They each wear shirts of different colors: all the teams of this year’s Serie A are represented.
The player countdown begins!! In order of their shirt #s!!
#1 – Gianluigi BUFFON!!
#3 – Giorgio CHIELLINI!! Visibly limping and trying to hide his pain. Poor Giorgio. :( The only sour note of today’s celebrations.
#4 – Martín CÁCERES!! He’s wearing the Uruguay flag wrapped around his waist! :)
#7 – Simone PEPE!! He jogs out! (I guess we’re skipping Fabio Grosso today LOL)
#8 – Claudio MARCHISIO!! Also jogs out.
#11 – Paolo DE CEGLIE!!
#13 – Alexander MANNINGER!! Very good backup of the backup. Shame he didn’t get to play today.
#14 – Mirko VUCINIC!!
#15 – Andrea BARZAGLI!!
#17 – Eljero ELIA!! He’s sporting a rather long face. Can’t really be blamed…
#18 – Fabio QUAGLIARELLA!!
#19 – Leonardo BONUCCI!!
#20 – Simone PADOIN!!
…big roar awaiting for this one…. #21 – Andrea PIRLO!! :D And he actually seems to want to shortcut straight to the podium, before being told he has to walk the way on the red carpet! LOL Oh Andrea…
#22 – Arturo VIDAL!! Wearing a Chile flag around his neck.
#23 – Marco BORRIELLO!!
#24 – Emanuele GIACCHERINI!!
#26 – Stephan LICHTSTEINER!!
#27 – Milos KRASIC!! Along with Elia, another sad part of this blissful Juventus year. Meelosh seems to be happier than his Dutch counterpart at least…
#28 – Marcelo ESTIGARRIBIA!! With a Paraguay flag around his neck.
#30 – Marco STORARI!!
#32 – Alessandro MATRI!!
#34 – Luca MARRONE!!
Now the Juventus coaching staff: Angelo ALESSIO (assistant coach), Cristian STELLINI (field assistant), Massimo CARRERA (field assistant), Paolo BERTELLI (fitness coach), Claudio FILIPPI (goalkeeping coach), Roberto SASSI (‘Juventus Lab’ manager)…
…and of course, the man without whom all of this would not have been possible… Antonio CONTE!!
Saving the best for last, IL CAPITANO, the one and only… #10 – Alessandro DEL PIERO!!
Enormous roar of the stadium as the crowd shouts the DEL PIERO name in place of the stadium speaker. ADP stops to kiss his wife Sonia on the sideline before proceeding to pick up his medal.

And now, the moment we have all been waiting for…
ALZA LA COPPA CAPITANO!! Del Piero lifts the Cup high to the Turin sky, and the celebrations can truly begin!!!
A rain of confetti pours over the stage. The chords of the Juventus hymn STORIA DI UN GRANDE AMORE start blasting through the stadium speakers! The team assembles for the official “Serie A TIM, JUVENTUS Campioni d’Italia 2011-12″ photograph.
As the time for champagne comes, a giant bottle is left in the hands of Mirko Vucinic (that’s it, he’s the official alkie of the group :P ) who proceeds to douse everyone with bubbly bliss :D
The players and the crowd now all singing together… ♫ JUVEEEE ♫ STORIA DI UN GRANDE AMORE ♫ BIANCO CHE ABBRACCIA IL NERO ♫ UN CORO CHE SI ALZA DAVVERO… ♫ :D
The players scatter around the field with their respective families & kids. CLIC! Time for individual photoshoots with the Cup. :D
Massive escort detail around Alessandro Del Piero, carrying his kids around to the curvas with Sonia’s help. According to the Mediaset Premium reporter, he finally burst into tears but they were tears of joy!

ANALYSIS WRAP-UP      (by Lars Aabjerg Pedersen)

Even the most homogenous of teams need leaders, captains, symbols. Today we bade a tearful farewell to the greatest Bandiera, the greatest flag-bearer I have ever born witness to, possibly even the greatest one to ever have graced the game. Not only in terms of his record-breaking career on the field, where players of other clubs may rival him (although they are few), but for his ever-correct demeanour, ever-present dedication, and ever-crucial contributions to the history of Juventus.

Seeing Del Piero raise the Serie A trophy towards the Turin sky, fulfilling his promise as a true cavalier to not only stay with his Lady, but to guide her back to the glory of old as he bows out himself, is a sight that will forever be imprinted on the very soul of every juventino fortunate enough to have witnessed it.

An image we have the chance to witness one last time on Sunday, in the Coppa Italia final against Napoli in Rome.

After that, la Vecchia Signora will embark on her journey into a bright, new future, and we will follow her. But not without glancing back at her most beautiful of gentlemen, who gave his all for this club, and who will now join the likes of Boniperti and Scirea in becoming hers and our Captains of Eternity.

Grazie, grande Ale Del Piero! We long to welcome you back, sooner rather than later!

And now you must excuse me, Juventini – amid all the celebrations, I think I got a Star in my eye…

Post-Match INTERVIEWS (click to expand)

  • [video_lightbox_youtube video_id=CSWLDyXcEZE width=640 height=480 anchor="{ Marco STORARI }"]
  • [video_lightbox_youtube video_id=GUT2qjbWDR0 width=640 height=480 anchor="{ Luca MARRONE }"]
  • [video_lightbox_youtube video_id=-OmVIeliaRg width=640 height=480 anchor="{ Antonio CONTE }"]
  • [video_lightbox_youtube video_id=UqXSTlmBST0 width=640 height=480 anchor="{ Alessandro DEL PIERO }"]



Juventus F.C.
Atalanta B.C.
GOALSCORERS: 10′ Marrone (J), 28′ Del Piero (J), 83′ Lichtsteiner o.g. (A), 91′ Barzagli (J)
JUVENTUS (4-3-3): Storari – Lichtsteiner, Bonucci, Chiellini (89′ Barzagli), Estigarribia (66′ Quagliarella) – Padoin, Pirlo, Marrone – Giaccherini, Borriello, Del Piero (57′ Pepe). COACH: Conte.
(UNUSED SUBSTITUTES: Manninger, Marchisio, Vucinic, Matri).
ATALANTA (4-4-1-1): Frezzolini – Bellini, Lucchini, Manfredini, Peluso – E.Schelotto (52′ Minotti), Carmona, Cazzola (82′ Cigarini), Bonaventura – Moralez (52′ Gabbiadini) – Denis. COACH: Colantuono.
(UNUSED SUBSTITUTES: Polito, Ferri, Raimondi, Tiribocchi).


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