Juventus wasted a golden opportunity to close the gap at the top by throwing away points against Bologna leaving many to ponder their consistency. Yet despite the terrible waste that sees Juventus sit seven points adrift of league leaders Lazio, who are playing the season of their life, Luigi Del Neri insisted that he was satisfied with the performance from a squad not aiming for the Scudetto.
“Before people complained that we conceded too many goals, now they complain we don’t score them.”> Those were the words of the Juve Coach who dismissed claims that his side failed miserably on Sunday night. In many ways, he was right. It was hardly a vintage performance by the club who thrashed Lecce last week 4-0 but Sunday’s evening match was more of a testament to the Bologna defence than it was about the lacklustre state of the Juve attack.
The Rossoblu played a fine game of defence and knew exactly how to muzzle a side that finds itself at the top of Serie A with regards to the number of goals scored this season. Playing a tiring game of football, the home side double-marked the Juve players, man-marked the attack closely, shut down all available space and crowded out the players capable of dribbling with increasing speed. It was astonishing how well they managed to keep up their energy and Juventus simply had no idea how to unlock the mighty defence that many thought was wrought with frailties since Bologna have conceded 12 goals this season.
With that type of performance, the home side deserved to walk away with one point. However, Juventus had their chances to steal all three and all of them were squandered in spectacular style to leave the fans and critics wondering just when this club will invest in a striker that can actually score goals. Amauri continues to be shown faith in his abilities as he was chosen to start yet again which perhaps has more to do with the lack of options upfront as opposed to the player’s disappointing form.
His substitute Vincenzo Iaquinta proved to be even more of a disappointment. After Milos Krasic went through all that trouble of simulating to earn a comically undeserved penalty, his fellow teammate and prima punta, could only strike limply and straight at the goalkeeper to keep the score level and restore justice. And just when it could not get any worse, Fabio Quagliarella missed the best chance of the game and struck a defender when he found himself in front of an open goal.
In fact the Old Lady’s attack was so appalling that Leonardo Bonucci, a newly acquired centre-back, was the man chosen to take a free-kick in hopes that he would fare better than his attacking teammates. As one would imagine, it was simply awful and perfectly defined the state of the Bianconeri offence and the lack of complete forwards within the squad.
The Bianconeri simply did not impose their confidence and even Krasic’s light faded in the face of adverse criticism from the home fans who did not appreciate his dive. It was by all means a silly risk to take as he now faces a two match ban that will see him sit out the game against Milan. However, one can argue that it was the referee’s fault for not spotting what is deemed to be a usual occurrence in Calcio. Juventus must be hoping that the blonde winger’s confidence will not suffer as it must be said, without him the side has no bite in attack. Even Del Neri’s offensive substitutions failed to bring about the desired results.
However, in defence, the team certainly excelled as they amassed one more clean sheet to prove they are getting the hang of it. Paolo De Ceglie put in yet another superb display at the back as he cleared his lines well, maintained possession and man-marked with full determination. His confidence grows with each game as he seemed comfortable with surging ahead and almost looked to be playing the role of a midfielder in the second half.
However, before the team gets carried away with their solid display at the back, it is worth noting that Bologna’s tactics did not work for them offensively as their striker, Marco Di Vaio on whom they all almost entirely dependent, sat too distant from goal. As such, the side was largely restricted to playing counter-attacking football as they assembled themselves to defend vigorously.
Unfortunately for Juventus, it is these types of fixtures that define a team. A side must be able to win the small games in order to maintain consistency and grow larger in stature. If the Old Lady could not manage a win against an inferior squad then perhaps we were wrong to expect too much too quickly from a team that put in a spectacularly cohesive performance last week. After all, a revolution takes time to produce results.