Conte seems to be just… chillaxin’. Freaky.
This was a result that could not have happened two seasons ago. Juventus dominated possession throughout the match (ESPN Soccernet says 29%-71%, which is as lopsided a statistic as I’ve seen outside a Barça match), and the Zebes looked consistently threatening. Sure enough, Andrea Pirlo scored an early goal off a free kick and after that, the ball somehow didn’t seem to get into the net.
This was more of a concern than an actual problem during the remainder of the first half, at least until the Juve defense (still perfect of course, and always will be no matter what… um, probably… don’t hold me to that) headed off to the locker room about 30 seconds before the half technically ended, and Calaiò got a late equalizer. Antonio Conte was not impressed.
Not, I’m sure, what the manager imagined when he returned to the scene of his supposed crime. Did the Zebes return from the half-time dressing room talk energized and rarin’ to go? Um, yes (remember the possession stat?) But still… THE. BOYS. COULD. NOT. GET. THE. BALL. IN. THE. BACK. OF. THE. NET. Until they did, and Juve won the match and they all lived happily ever after.
Except for Dirtbunny, who hasn’t had a decent visit from her boyfriend in a long, long time. Oz is not convenient for a weekend hop across the pond the way Europe is. *sigh*. Also, Margarita season is over, so the depth of my woes is nearly bottomless (well… not completely so; the black pants of the Zebes’ away kits may as well be a crotch burqa, but I still know how to work in a sad little dick joke… all is not lost).
★ ★ ★
Um, yeah. So we’re here to talk about a football match. Well, it started — as they do — with players taking the pitch with kids from the youth sector.
Awww. Andrea Pirlo got a sweet little girl (I think) and Sebastian Giovinco‘s mascot looks like he’s going to trip on his own pants. ♥ I hoped they would wear the pink. I slept the night before in my pink Pirlo jersey in an attempt to exert some influence, and it worked!
Speaking of Super-Seba, time for the Mirko Vucinic Gallery of Fail™! Not because he was bad (he wasn’t), and not because he had any actual fail (he didn’t… at least no more than any good player always has in every game… the shots — they do not all go in). But rather because of his Fail Face:
That is a championship-caliber tantrum face. ♥ It’s even better than Maicon’s tantrum face because it’s real, whereas Maicon’s tantrums were invariably built on pure bullsh**.
Geez, Felipe. Is that all you’ve got? You look almost as if you’re afraid to defend Seba, heh heh.
Giorgio Chiellini came out hard and got a harsh early yellow. Later, when he really started committing fouls, he was lucky not to get sent off. My commentators wouldn’t call it “lucky”: they came this close to outright saying that Mr. Mazzoleni was bought. [Cuz THAT's the only possibility, right? If a referee makes a mistake it's NOT because he's a human being and error is human, but rather because he was bought by the other team, right? /end Referee rant — Ed.]
After that, Siena tried to draw another card by crumpling to the floor any time Giorgione came within 2 meters of one of them, but Chiello settled down and kept it clean for the rest of the match, because he is a champion and not a dingbat.
In place of Bunny’s Favorite Dingbat (suspended Leonardo Bonucci), Conte/Carrera started Luca Marrone (featuring above with some Luca Marrone belly).
Ya know? Luca‘s a pretty decent center back. I wonder if Andy Carroll could be repurposed that way…
[Take notes, Sam Allardyce — Ed.]
★ ★ ★
Aside from starting Marrone, the only notable squad rotation involved Paolo DeCeglie, one of my special favorites.
He’s a soldier. Perhaps not the most effective soldier possible. Earnest good faith and hard work count for a lot but don’t make up for a lack of ability, as we learned from… *covers Marco Pantanella’s ears*… Molinaro.
[Huh? Did someone say something? Something about Matteo Paro? — Ed.]
Listen to me, complaining that PDC is not the world’s best left-back. Two seasons ago, we were crying for any competent left-back. Competent, he is, and more.
I hope he’s happy. It’d be terribly sad to lose him to some crap team where he could play every week.
Oh dear. I’m getting all soppy. Let’s just notice Claudio Marchisio in his traditional position on the pitch — Hiya Claudio! — and come back to him later.
Andrea Pirlo. Oh My God. Let’s do him now.
So, I told you in the PREVIEW‘s comments that Felipe was the worst defender in Serie A, right? Well, he is. He got a card for a foul on Seba and gave up a free kick on the edge of the area in the 13th. Pirlo lines up, looking unimpressed and perhaps even a little bored, as he tends to do (ADP always fiddled with his nose while he was waiting to take a FK).
What do we normally think of when we think of a Pirlo free kick? I think of something with a beautiful curve that goes over the wall and tucks into the upper corner of goal. What did we get yesterday? A straight, squat groundball that went under the wall and splattered off the keeper and into the net. It was the Opposite of Pirlo. And it went in.
You know what this means, don’t you?
We already knew that Andrea was a Smooth Operator™… silky, tricky, slippery, and smarter than you.
Well, guess what? He’s also a BAD MOTHERFU**ER™!! Maybe you thought that a player could be one or the other, but now you know he can be both. Here, Pirlo receives his tribute from fellow BMF Giorgione.
Wow. WE PAID NOTHING FOR HIM. MILAN THOUGHT HE WAS WASHED UP AND LET HIM GO FOR FREE!
I know I’ve said that before, but I also said I may never stop laughing, and so far, I haven’t.
Moving along, Conte/Carrera started Arturo Vidal in his usual place as the “V” in the MVP midfield.
I was a bit surprised. He looked tired and out of it against Shakhtar, and I thought he might get some rest.
Yeah, I said tired. We love you Arturo, but you’re looking a bit fatigued and it showed in Europe (though you did fine yesterday). Now go home and get some sleep!
★ ★ ★
Mirko Vucinic started up front. He had a good match, but he could not get a goal. Why? It wasn’t for lack of trying. The Zebras had sixteen shots… eight on target.
It wasn’t just Juve that couldn’t close the deal. Calaiò missed an absolute sitter. Seriously. My Grandma Buongiorne would have had time to step out from behind her walker and tap that one in. But of course, we don’t care much about that. What we do care about is why the Zebes had so much trouble.
You know why. For some reason, when Juventus goes off into the provinces to play the smaller teams, the smaller teams’ second-rate goalkeepers get to work. Siena’s Gianluca Pegolo was no exception. Pretty baby made save after save after save. By the way is it a law that goalkeepers in Italy have to be shupa-sheckshee? Cuz there don’t seem to be very many exceptions.
There are exceptions, of course coffcoffSebFreycoff and Salvatore Sirigu is banished for as long as he stays in France (I can understand having a desperate need to escape from the Palermo hellhole, but c’mon.) At any rate, Pegolo had a power breakfast, put on his savin’ boots and… well, I was going to say that he had the match of his life except I seem to remember that he did pretty much the same thing the last time Siena played Juventus. *looks it up*
Yup. Six saves yesterday. Seven saves in last season’s ritorno. Lordy. What’s going on here? Does he get all jazzed up to face Juventus, The Mighty Opponent? Of is it that he thinks more people will see him against a bigger team and it could be his big chance to score a big contract at a bigger team? Dude only makes €250,000 a year, which is less than every single Zebra except Rubinho. He might as well have gone to law school.
And so Carrera did something really courageous. He took Marrone out of the game and put in Quagliarella in the 80th. He had already taken out Lichtsteiner and De Ceglie in favor of Giaccherini and Asamoah, so that left Juve with a *gulp* two-man defense (plus Asamoah tracking back to cover). Talk about balls out. Draws are for pussies: win big or lose big.
So, yeah, that kind of substitution could never have happened two seasons ago. Most coaches would have gone defensive and played for the draw. But you know what else? Two years ago, if coach told his players in the 80th minute to buckle down and get the winner, the Boyz would have freaked out. But this year, this year, with this coach, the Boyz found something they didn’t used to have. Patience. And Grinta. To keep trying, trying, and trying, and never give up. And then…
It was half-glorious and half-hot mess. In the 85th, Giovinco swung a cross into the box from the left. Giorgione headed the ball away from goal — are you telling he me meant to do that? — and it fell into the path of Claudio Marchisio, who slammed it low and hard on the volley.
★ ★ ★
[SENTIMENTAL TANGENT TIME — Ed.]
I didn’t cry at the time, but I’m starting to cry now just thinking about it, and I’m not much of a weeper.
There’s something completely ridiculous about my JUVE-LOVE. It takes up time I could be spending, I don’t know, curing cancer, working to shut down animal agribusiness, writing the novel that’s in my head, refinishing the basement, or hell, just shaving my legs a bit more often.
Fanhood doesn’t do anything. I can’t imagine it on my tombstone (“Here lies Dirtbunny, whore for goalkeepers.”)
It’s completely useless. And expensive. All those extra cable channels and intraweb stuff cost actual money, and I burn some vacation time to watch midweek matches. That Luca Toni jersey from 2009-10, the ADP jersey from the 2008 Euros, the Giorgione and Gigi jerseys from World Cup 2010, and all the other jerseys and jackets and doodads that are too embarrassing to mention… well those ain’t cheap.
And then there’s these posts.
I don’t technically need an audience for my silly fanlove and embarrassing sexual fantasies and imaginary boyfriends, and I may just be displaying my inner freak when I should be keeping it quiet like everyone else does with theirs. It takes hours to put these together. The editors need all the photos done just so and I understand why but it’s tedious and time-consuming to gather them and label them properly and then to figure out which ones to use and what to say.
I have not yet seen El Clásico or the Milan derby because I’ve been working on this. Or eaten lunch. Or done my laundry.
[Yup, blogging IS hard work. I haven't had lunch either... — Ed.]
I’m not complaining. This isn’t always easy to do, for me, or for any of the JuventiKnows writers and editors. But I love it. I do it because I love the game and I love Juventus and all this Juve-stuff needs somewhere to go and it can’t be in real life because no one else has a clue. Mr. Dirtbunny comes close, but he likes Arsenal, so you can see there are certain impenetrable barriers there that hinder footie communication.
I do it because I love connecting with other people who share the same goofy passions as me. Yeah some of you won’t want to admit that they’re the same, so you can regard them as similar or related (but without the icky sex stuff) and I promise not to mock you for the next 10 minutes.
In fact, the posts and the matches are pretty much the same: SUFFERING and ARDENT LOVE. I love it all, even the sucky parts.
I love the bitching and moaning and drama from the opposing players and coaches. Especially Serse Cosmi. He can really put on a show.
I love the Juve players, even Kwadwo Asamoah whom I forgot to mention, and when I know them better, I end up loving them even more.
I love the affection the players have for each other, or really, any sign that they have fun playing football. I love the ridiculous boots and I love Pirlo’s ripped socks. I love it when their socks are saggy and I love it when they jack their socks up over the knee.
I love it when the players get pissy and grumpy, like Quags here. Or maybe you’d say he’s just been caught off-guard by a camera click. If that’s what’s going on here, then I love that too. Because it shows a moment where soccer players are real persons who aren’t used to having a camera on them 99.9% of the time, and who wish they had a little more personal space separating themselves from… umm… well, from us.
I even love Simone Pepe (pictured here with his companion, the lovely and apparently normal Agnese Bizzarri) even though he’s a ham and a doofus and if he were actually here in my house goofing around, I’d probably have to kick him out. Come back soon, Simone. I miss you! *bawls*
Thanks for listening.
★ ★ ★
Next match is after the international break, the big showdown against Napoli, at home, on October 20, a week from Saturday.
This post was powered by mushy sentimentality. Dammit. *goes off to cry some more*