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

Luca Cetta On March - 8 - 2012

Stubbornness Costs Juve

Juventus missed the chance to join Milan at the top of Serie A after being held to a 1-1 draw by Bologna at the Stadio Renato Dall’Ara on Wednesday.

Juve went in to this rescheduled clash having drawn the past two matches and Antonio Conte surprisingly started Marco Borriello in a trident attack with Mirko Vucinic and the returning Simone Pepe.

However, it was Bologna who took the lead in the 17th minute when Marco Di Vaio beat the offside trap and slotted past Gianluigi Buffon.

Juventus looked void of creativity in the attacking third and did not fashion a genuine chance until Andrea Pirlo slid through a wonderful pass for Vucinic to score just before the hour mark. Moments later, Jean Francois Gillet produced a fantastic double save to deny Stephan Lichtsteiner and Claudio Marchisio, as Juve had the momentum.

Paolo De Ceglie saw penalty appeals waved away and Antonio Conte’s protests earned the tactician a dismissal from the bench. Leonardo Bonucci was sent off with six minutes remaining for a second bookable offence and Juve’s charge halted.

Another match, another draw for the Bianconeri. That takes the season tally to 13 wins and 13 draws. Juventus once again controlled possession (62%) but created little and a tactically solid Bologna scored with their only shot on goal.

Conte dropped Alessandro Matri, but Borriello offered very little in return, being well shackled by Mikael Antonsson throughout the match. The ex-Roma player stayed on far longer than a performance of that ilk deserved.

Vucinic was another curious case as he lost the ball many times, offered little in the way of creativity, but his goal brought Juve back in the contest. Andrea Raggi was comfortable in marking the Montenegrin and perhaps the goal gave him extra minutes, but either way, Conte was stubborn in using his bench. It took until his sending off for assistant Angelo Alessio to make a change. Fabio Quagliarella cannot be expected to play into form when he is given a 15 minute spell towards the end of a match, while the continued exile of Eljero Elia is baffling.

After all the talk and conjecture about penalties given and those not, the De Ceglie incident did not look clear-cut. Conte and the rest of the bench thought so, but both the left-back and Nico Pulzetti had a grab of each other’s shirt.

On the plus side, Martin Caceres looked assured in his first start in central defence since his January return. His distribution was excellent (87% completed passes) and he was clean in his positioning and defensive work. The central defensive pairing with Bonucci worked relatively well, in spite of the latter’s red card and lack of confidence.

It does however pose a problem for Sunday at Genoa. Andrea Barzagli and Giorgio Chiellini are still injured, so Caceres may be paired with Arturo Vidal. Conte will also sit in the stands, meaning his enthusiasm on the bench is lost. The question heading into the Stadio Luigi Ferraris contest is whether this latest draw will alter his thinking, especially in attack. For the criticism of late, it must be noted Conte is a huge part of the reason Juve can think of the Scudetto. Nothing has been decided yet, but Juventus cannot afford to drop more points in games such as these. The Old Lady must get back on track against the Grifoni ahead of a difficult period versus many old rivals.

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