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With all of Serie A’s top teams failing to secure three points this round, it looked like Juventus had the chance to jump right back into the race for Champions League qualification. But even their most inspired performance of 2011 was not enough on the day.

Palermo jumped ahead of a lackluster Juventus with two goals in the first 20 minutes. First it was Fabrizio Miccoli (isn’t it always him against Juve?) exploiting Zdenek Grygera’s sheer lack of pace while connecting on a sublime Pastore lob then Giulio Migliaccio out-leaped Chiellini to nod home a Cassani cross.

After this, Palermo looked happy to absorb pressure and counter against Juve’s slow defense. And boy did Juve apply the pressure.

Newly acquired Alessandro Matri missed an absolute sitter in the 33rd minute, placing his shot squarely at Sirigu’s feet. I think I could hear what Juve fans were saying to themselves at this point, ‘Hey I thought we loaned out Amauri.’

It got worse before it got better for Juve fans, as they were denied a crystal clear penalty when Bovo shockingly seemed to cushion a descending ball onto his feet with his hand. Referee Emidio Morganti was immediately swarmed by black and white shirts (there is no doubt that the Bianconeri had flashbacks of Morganti wrongfully disallowing a Toni equalizer - just three and a half weeks prior against Napoli).

But only a couple minutes later all seemed to be forgotten as Marchisio powered a left-footed shot into the bottom corner of Sirigu’s goal to bring Juve within one. It was Claudio Marchisio’s second goal in as many matches as the youngster continues to elevate his game when Juve needs it the most.

The half ended with another miss by Matri although this time he was fully stretched and fighting off a defender.

Juventus picked up right where they left off in the second half and again Matri found himself in a prime position. Matri this time was denied by a super block by Cesare Bovo after Milos Krasic played in a delightful ball. Amauri? See what I did there? Ok, I’ll stop. In all fairness to Matri, he found himself in great positions throughout the game and was probably unlucky not to score.

Palermo seemed completely flat in the second half with Juventus pushing forward at every opportunity. Even Zdenek Grygera found himself in attacking positions. Krasic nearly equalized from a tight angle but again Juve found themselves on Lady Luck’s bad side.

Unfortunately for Juventus, Coach Gigi Del Neri decided to impose himself on the match, and in the 66th minute made a momentum halting double switch. He correctly opted to introduce Jorge Martinez (who has been great of late) but perhaps incorrectly chose to replace Matri instead of Del Piero, for a midfielder.

But more mystifying was the Sissoko - Aquilani swap while down a goal. Sissoko is a player that has been on the periphery at Juve for a good while and is known more for destroying his own team’s attacks than his opponent’s.

Juve struggled to produce any chances for the rest of the match with their lone opportunity being a Martinez toe-poke that was saved neatly by Sirigu.

This loss will likely hurt Juventus more than the last few because they had a real chance to resurrect their season and surely felt like they were destined to storm back against Palermo after applying boatloads of pressure.

At the same time, they should be encouraged by their attacking play, as they finally put together a performance where they dominated possession and scoring chances. But somehow, I feel like the mood of the Old Lady will be anything but encouraged.

Juventus now sit eighth on 35 points while Palermo leapfrog them and land in sixth on 37 points.

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4 Responses so far.

  1. Tariq Falaknaz says:

    Very well written and I cannot agree even more. That penalty (Yellow card as well) could have changed the game a bit (even though Marchisio scored later). The effect yellow cards have on players should not be underestimated. The Sissoko-Aquilani sub is a mystery, Ranieri claimed GDN is his coaching Idol, now I somehow understand!

    Matri was substituted cause he suffered from cramps (GDN said so after the match) - so at the time of this review I understand what you meant however ADP put his heart out on this one & Matri did waste 2 great chances.

    There is hope, however CL is very, very hard right now.

    Great review, keep up the good work, was a real joy to read.

    • Morra says:

      Ya Tariq, it came out later that Matri was cramping. I guess Del Neri got me there! But the Sissoko swap has to be one of the worst of the year for any coach. I mean, the guy tried passing to a player waiting to be subbed on and got hit in the face with a lofted corner kick.

      Also for everyone, I’ve coined the “Amautri” nickname for now. Sadly, my editor didn’t see what I did there LOL, but hopefully that nickname will never be put to use.

  2. Matt says:

    Nice review, I agree with much of what you said.

    Perhaps surprisingly, I’m not all that down about yesterday’s performance, as considering we had a really makeshift back 4, featuring two poor full backs + a debutant CB and also a debutant upfront, there was a decent cohesion and fluidity about the team, excusing the first 25 minutes of course.

    I’m looking forward to the Cagliari game, very much so. I feel if we play with the same heart and character as we did last night, then it won’t be long before we pull ourselves out of this mini rot.

  3. Lars Aabjerg says:

    Nice wrap-up. I think they will take heart from the match, not just bemoaning the result. Creating a siege mentality (via press ban and (deserved) ref-bashing)) could prove a smart move (and is one of the oldest tricks in the book).

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