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

Luca Cetta On April - 27 - 2012

Borriello The Saviour For Juve

The headline is not a typo. It indeed occurred: Marco Borriello scored the only goal as Juventus defeated Cesena at the Stadio Dino Manuzzi on Wednesday to remain three points clear at the top of Serie A.

Days after their demolition of Roma in which Arturo Vidal, Andrea Pirlo and Claudio Marchisio were superb and found all found the target, they - as well as their teammates – looked flat in Cesena.

On the anniversary of Andrea Fortunato’s passing it was imperative Juve won, for him and for the championship. Mirko Vucinic won a contentious penalty in the eighth minute which Pirlo failed to convert – after his miss against Roma – and it looked like being one of those days for Juve. However, Borriello came on as a substitute and sweetly converted a Vucinic header past the stranded Francesco Antonioli to condemn Cesena to Serie B.

Juve were aiming for seven wins in a row – and to equal Fabio Capello’s Milan from 1991-92 with 34 games unbeaten - it looked a different side which took to the synthetic pitch compared to the dismantling of the Giallorossi, the first half of which was one of Juve’s best in 2011-12. What was viewed as a straightforward match – the first in a series heading potentially towards the Scudetto – was anything but.

The Old Lady controlled the contest with 71 per cent possession and 26 shots (eight on target) compared to Cesena’s eight. Gianluigi Buffon was not called upon to make a save as the defence had another comfortable outing, as one might expect in a first versus last encounter.

It was at the other end where Juve struggled, echoing countless matches this season against the provincial sides. Matches against Bologna (twice), Siena, Catania, Chievo (twice), Genoa (twice), Cagliari and Parma in which Juventus could only manage a draw, matches which appeared to take the Scudetto away from Antonio Conte’s men. However, they were able to find the crucial goal, akin to the Round 3 clash at Siena and against Lecce in early January.

Alessandro Matri was recalled to the starting XI as a result of Fabio Quagliarella’s suspension, but he and Vucinic were ineffective in breaking down a sturdy Cavallucci defence. The pair fired seven shots at goal but could not beat the veteran Antonioli. Further back and the M-V-P midfield experienced a difficult afternoon. Vidal was energetic but lackluster, Marchisio ineffective going forward and Pirlo sluggish. Out wide, Paolo De Ceglie probed on the left-hand side but Martin Caceres struggled on the right.

Juve were poor throughout the first 70 minutes and only showed true desire afterward, as if they remembered the Scudetto is up for grabs. The fresh impetus of the substitutes helped, with Emanuele Giaccherini, Alessandro Del Piero and Borriello adding to an attacking formation – credit goes to Conte for adding pressure with a 3-3-4 system - with Juve chasing a winner.

They managed to find one, but will be wary of facing a similar challenge on Sunday against Novara. The Piedmont Derby ended 2-0 earlier in the season but with Novara still an outside chance of survival, it will be another tough encounter. Quagliarella will return, but Matri is suspended and Simone Pepe will aim to prove his fitness after missing Cesena. Juve now know what they will face in the final weeks and will need a marked improvement to ensure it does not go down to the wire as it did on Wednesday.

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