A visit to Pescara gave Juventus the opportunity to restore their confidence and the aura of Champions so badly dented by Inter last weekend. With a run of five tough matches to come it would be the ideal time to continue the good form shown on Wednesday but nobody could have predicted the convincing manner in which she would do so. Such was the emphatic nature of this victory it took a real team effort here at JuventiKnows to review the game so what follows was brought to you by John, Marco, and Adam. Read on…
MATCH ANALYSIS (by John Cascarano)
After a weekend in which the Conte-era Juventus tasted defeat for the first time in Serie A – in a heartbreaking blowout to bitter rivals Inter in front of a home crowd, no less – much of the peninsula wondered and watched how Italy’s old lady would react. I’ve written and said it since, that the next week would be both telling and decisive. Much like a good closer in baseball needs a short memory, so do a stable of champions in football. The hallmark of a true championship squad is how they react in the wake of a setback.
This week Juventus had a unique opportunity to twice show their worth. First, it was trying to break their recent European hoodoo and finally grab that elusive +3 from those Danes at home.
Step one, complete.
Yesterday in Abruzzo, they completed step two.
All in all this week proved as resounding a bounce-back as anyone could hope for, and it was capped off against in smashing fashion against Pescara.
Juventus lined up in a 3-5-2 formation (duh), and while the reports heading into the match were that Antonio Conte giving rest to some of his key players, someone should have told that to Angelo Alessio. The back-line remained the same, with my sympathy for Giorgio Chiellini, Andrea Barzagli and Leo Bonucci reaching an all-time high, while teen idol Paul Pogba was pulled from his planned start for showing up late to two training sessions, leaving the M-V-P midfield in tact. On the outside, Mauricio Isla got another start on the right, as he continues to gradually work his way into the lineup building upon his good performance during the UCL fixture midweek. Predictably, Kwadwo Asamoah lined up across from him, with a Quagliavinco tandem up top.
Much like in last week’s match, things started off quickly (albeit not as quickly), with Giovinco, Marchisio and Asamoah making things uncomfortable for Pescara, all seemingly within one minute. This culminated with a nice goal from (former) top striker Arturo Vidal, following a well-played ball by the aforementioned pocket poacher.
The waves of pressure continued, with Quagliarella almost scoring a vintage PlayStation-esque goal from the top of the box, that tailed just wide… Although this would mark a harbinger of things to come. Meanwhile, Marchisio looked particularly fired up on an exchange in the middle third involving a botched handball, while Barzagli provided a minor heart attack when he tried to get a bit too fancy, giving the ball away after a justly yet nervously called foul and yellow card against Jonathas. Pescara tried to counter per usual, but were left in the dust shortly after as in the 22nd minute, a low cross from Mauricio Isla found Quagliarella to put Juventus up 2-0. Although Quaglia notched the score, it was a nice look by Isla to find him in the crowd and deliver a perfect little pass.
Pescara would remain in the game, however. Shortly thereafter, Juventus was lucky to not concede a goal off of a Juan Fernando Quintero free kick which smacked the woodwork and Buffon seemed to just get his fingertips on. There were appeals for a penalty from a handball against Vidal, but play continued and an Emmanuel Cascione header would similarly escape Buffon’s finger tips, hit the inside of the woodwork, but this time go in. Barzagli would lose his man and it would be 2-1.
Two minutes later, again off of a corner kick, Matti Lund Nielsen was left wide open after a bad clearance and nearly leveled the score for Pescara. However, the cardiac arrest would end there.
A few minutes later, Giovinco would continue his clever little play with a nice ball down the right hand side for Quagliarella, who was open and had space to run into, but would inexplicably let the ball roll. Perhaps he thought he was offside. He wasn’t. Sloppy play. You better make up for it, Quags…
Quagliarella did make up for it, and from there on the floodgates would open. At the 30th, a neat little back flick pass from no. 27 reached Asamoah who drove it to the back of the net with an overhead volley. Golazzo!
Seven minutes later, Giovinco would take a well-timed volley to the back of the net, and Quagliarella would add one more before the half was up, netting at the 45th. 5-1. Where were these goals last week?
At some point in between, Andrea Pirlo would pick up a yellow card conceding a free kick in the zona di Pirlo, and Sant’Marchisio would acrobatically save a second goal from Pescara after Buffon got caught off his line following a corner. Both plays would be drowned out by the glut of goals pouring in.
The second half began with yet another Quagliagol, this one as vintage as they come for him, and as spectacular of an overhead kick as Asamoah’s from earlier. Quagliagol! Ancora! Possiamo rivediamo? Tripletta!!!
Sorry. I may have tourettes. Or maybe I just need to eat more whey protein.
And that would be all she wrote. The rest of the game would be relatively uneventful, because nothing else really needed to happen. Kudos to Juventus for not simply taking their foot off the gas, as the pressure remained, albeit without the same level of desperation. Giovinco was unlucky to not bag a double off of a tight-angled left footed chip, which would have been easier if it stayed on the ground – similar to a goal he scored earlier in the year against Roma in a similar game which rained goals.
And, at the end of the day, Luca Marrone looks surely to have been officially converted to a defender, coming in for Chiellini. Meanwhile, Simone Padoin and Nicklas Bendtner received a few pity minutes as well.
LE PAGELLE (by Marco Pantanella )
Buffon 6.0 – Stretched as far as he could to get to Cascione’s header, but it was really well-placed. Didn’t have much to do the rest of the game except a few shots here and there which he opted to handle “safely” (i.e. parrying away).
Barzagli 7.0 – Tight, near impeccable man-marking as usual.
Bonucci 7.0 – It’s really great watching a Bonucci in full self-confidence mode. Elegant, calm, and poised, with some good ball control skills to boot.
Chiellini 7.0 – Solid Giorgio. Need we say more?
65′ Marrone s.v. – Slotted into the center of the backline, as he has done so far. Some good anticipation movements, but it’s practically impossible to judge him given the match’s advanced scoreline when he came on, as well as Pescara’s insignificant offense.
Isla 6.5 – Progressively coming back to his Udinese levels. Another assist for him tonight.
59′ Padoin s.v. – Dusted off in light of the high-scoring game. A few decent runs here and there, but he should have shot that last play of the game.
Vidal 7.0 – Until Quagliarella’s hat-trick show, King Arturo had become Juve’s capocannoniere with yet another game-breaking goal. Back to his 2011-12 levels after a very short spell of mediocrity.
Pirlo 6.5 – The maestro was not really needed tonight. This Pescara team could have been beaten by the Primavera. Yet it’s a darn shame he had to go pick up a booking that will take him out of the Lazio game. Then again, he’ll get some rest for Chelsea mid-week.
Marchisio 6.5 – Typical Claudio production.
Asamoah 7.0 – Rock-solid Asamoah. A wall in defense, a cause of constant concern for the opponent in offense, and a lovely bicycle kick goal to boot.
Quagliarella 9.0 – Hold your horses! Cannot say “Quags is back”, because to judge his hat-trick tonight on Pescara’s merits would be incredibly naive. However he practically converted every chance that came his way, and given the Juve strikers’ recent moment of form that’s saying a lot!
68′ Bendtner s.v. – Some good one-touch plays, and once again displayed to possess some good vision with his distribution. But by the time he came on, the game had said all there was to say. Also, he’s till trying to get accustomed to Conte’s & his teammates’ playing style.
Giovinco 7.0 – A lot of movement, some good touches, a good goal, and nearly another one he should have scored after dribbling the keeper.
Conte/Alessio 7.0 – Once again: tough to judge the coach’s merits against an obviously inadequate/defensively embarassing Pescara team. Yet, starting from Pogba’s exclusion due to disciplinary reasons, all the way to deciding to field all the “titolari”, the coach(es) got everything right. This was a game Conte obviously wanted to win, and he did. And as an added bonus, with the win well in the bag he even got to dust off a few of the “reserves”. Buona domenica!
ANALYSIS WRAP-UP (by Adam Digby)
The Old Lady has often left us short of superlatives since the arrival of Conte last May but when considering this was the first time she had registered six goals in a Serie A match since an April 1997 thrashing of Milan. Having set a number of records this past week thanks to the end of two streaks and debut European goals for Marchisio and Giovinco, that trend continued with Quagliarella’s first ever hat-trick.
The Delfini attempted to block Juve by mirroring their 3-5-2, a tactic which has often frustrated the Champions but here they simply were in no mood to allow anyone or anything to stand in their way. They dominated possession, claiming 62% of the ball, and out passed their opponents with 673 to just 263. Pirlo was given far too much space, dominating play and dictating the game at will but, whatever Pescara had done, the visitors were simply too powerful and to energised to be denied.
Now comes a run that sees games against Lazio, Chelsea, Milan, Torino and Shakhtar Donetsk, a run that will serious test both the quality and depth of the squad. They will be boosted for the first of those matches by the return of Simone “The Lazio Killer” Pepe, scorer of three goals in as many games against the Roman side since his move two years ago.
Make no mistake, Pescara – much like Nordsjaelland before them – are undoubtedly weaker opponents and nothing like the caliber of sides to come over the next month for the Bianconeri but you can only beat what is put in front of you and ten goals across the two games sends a clear message that the defeat to you-know-who was but a temporary blip.
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