Italian Serie A News, Results, Analysis and Features on Football Soccer

Luca Cetta On January - 20 - 2012

Juventus Drawing Their Way To The Scudetto

Eighteen matches into the season and Juventus are undefeated and sitting in first place. Everything seems rosy red, or pink (like their away shirt), in Turin. While Juventus find themselves in an ideal situation heading into the second half of the season, their rise to the top has been much due to their own good work as it has been to many of their rivals’ failure to truly assert themselves as Scudetto contenders, aside from Milan. This is evident by the fact that Juventus are leading the pack despite having drawn almost as many games as they have won (ten wins to eight draws), not that Antonio Conte or any Juve fan will mind.

Over the weekend again did the Bianconeri benefit from the slip-ups made by their closest rivals as Milan, Udinese and Lazio – in this order the teams that are chasing the Old Lady – all lost. Meanwhile, a draw at home to mid-table Cagliari was enough for Conte’s men to establish a one-point lead in the standings.

Juventus have not been in great form so far this year. They have managed just two goals in the two games they have played. Nevertheless, they have won one and drawn one and, clearly, it has been enough for them to continue their bid for their first domestic title in the post-Calciopoli era.

Against Cagliari Juventus looked good initially with Mirko Vucinic finishing off a sublime team effort to put Juve ahead after just seven minutes. With the home side absolutely dominating possession it seemed another three points was on the cards.

However, Cagliari had different ideas. The island side fought back stoically edging back into the contest and producing some nervy moments for the fans at the Juventus Arena. They could have had a penalty or even two before the half-time break as they stretched the Juve backline. Leonardo Bonucci and Andrea Pirlo were lucky to see the referee wave play on these two occasions after both committed what could have easily been judged to be fouls in the area. The equaliser finally did arrive shortly after the interval. Bonucci’s clearance fell to Andrea Cossu who fired his first goal of the season past Gianluigi Buffon. It was a goal that will be a contender for goal of the season.

Conte’s men regained control of the ball as they once again dominated proceedings with a Barcelona-esque possession game. But, a strong Rossoblu rear-guard staved off any real threats, limiting the Old Lady to just three other clear attempts on goal.

Not even a complete tactical rethink in the second half by Conte who one by one brought on Milos Krasic, debutant Marco Borriello and Alessandro Del Piero to form a new attack,  could break the deadlock. Of course, Juve’s cause was not helped by Krasic’s glaring miss that highlighted his lack of confidence.

A positive to take from the match was the performance of Paolo De Ceglie. He filled in for the suspended Giorgio Chiellini and did not put a foot wrong all match.

Juventus will recover Chiellini for the trip to Atalanta this Saturday night and while he is expected to start in his now usual left-back position, De Ceglie certainly made the most of his opportunity and will at least place a thought into Conte’s mind.

Thinking of Atalanta, Conte will have to give thought to how to stop German Denis who has been scoring at will this season. Cutting out the striker’s supply lines to the penalty box will be one way to lessen his threat. This means stopping the hard-running wide players Ezequiel Schelotto and Giacomo Bonaventura, plus the central creators Luca Cigarini and Maxi Moralez, who plays just in behind Denis.

Atalanta goes into the contest without the suspended duo Stefano Lucchini and Carlos Carmona. Despite their absences, the Bergamo outfit will field a strong eleven that will pose trouble for Juventus. Atalanta have also proved a very difficult proposition at home having  lost only once there this season, that coming a fortnight ago against Milan.

A win for Juve will ensure they claim the title of winter champions. Not that this means much at all. That is unless one has a liking for numbers. Since the coming together of the regional and interregional competitions and the forming of the Serie A as we know it today in 1929, on 54 occasions has the ‘winter’ champion gone on to lift the Scudetto. It might mean something after all.

But, one feels that as the title race hots up and with Inter now back in contention after the derby win over Milan, Juventus will have to start converting their draws into wins if they are to end this season as, once again, champions of Italy.

  • Nganbath

    Juventus are back and they will win the scudetto fending off the milanese sides, udinese, lazio and napoli……………Forza Juve !!!!!

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