It sincerely was a match of hyperboles. There were too many goals, too many yellow cards and too many disallowed goals. But the worst hyperbole was that there were too many awkward moments of the game in which Juventus fans clenched their jaws with anxiety as it looked like Atalanta were going to equalise at any moment. Each fan remembered the cruel way in which Juve went from leading 2-0 to then conceding three against Napoli last week, and held on with hope that a repeat was not on the cards. Despite the flair of the Juve strikers, their grit, persistence and excellent finishing – as wonderfully demonstrated by Diego’s third goal of the season – the defence was beyond weak and it left the score line incredibly vulnerable until the final stages of the match. Do not let the results deceive you, this was a hard match and the Old Lady had to fight until the very end to secure a result that will surely reiterate her message of intent this season.
The problem with having such a strong attacking force along with a robust midfield, as Ciro Ferrara so accurately pointed out, is that the opposition will usually resort to long balls. “It is a system that forces our opponents to go for the long ball and that means risking a one-on-one sometimes, but all our defenders are internationals so it’s a risk worth taking”, the Coach commented at the end of the match. Yet, whilst the defenders may be internationals, they are not reliable or fast enough to take on hungry opposition. With a midfield packed with solid players, teams will look to bypass Juve’s strength and hope that their long range efforts will prove fruitful. Should a team like Inter opt for a long ball, it would be painful to see either full-back or Fabio Cannavaro attempting to hold off the likes of Samuel Eto’o and the opposition will most likely make the most of their advantage.
Individually, they are all good, if not great, defenders. Cannavaro is absolutely able to marshal the backline but his age is really holding him back from providing great performances. Juve’s heavy schedule, in addition to his role as Azzurri captain, mean that for most games the Berlin Wall is only capable of giving 30% and even when he is at his best, he’s too similar to Giorgio Chiellini. As for Martin Cáceres, his contribution to the attack has been helpful and it is clear to see that he is developing into a fine player, but defensively he still needs to learn how to provide those vital blocks. Both goals were conceded because of the Juve full-backs and whilst Fabio Grosso knows exactly how to contribute to goals – he wonderfully set up Mauro Camoranesi – he can make awfully poor crosses and made silly mistakes to gift Atalanta threatening moments in front of goal. Therefore Chiellini is the only reliable source at the back and despite his extensive set of skills, speed is not one of them and it thus remains an elusive feature in the Bianconeri defence.
Despite the unconvincing defence line, nothing should be taken away from the attacking half of the team, and the most enjoyable aspect of the game was watching David Trezeguet score his 167th goal for his team to equal Omar Sivori’s record. The player was euphoric and received yellow for his jubilant celebrations as he finally reached his personal objective, and it was a truly moving moment both for the aptly nicknamed Trezegol and his Juventini. Say what you like but his spectacular finish, his eye for goal and great positioning makes him a Juve jewel that will be missed when he departs and a terribly hard act to follow. You only need to witness that history making 167th goal to see just how powerful a shot it was and just how the Old Lady has finally begun to relocate the true form of her legendary foreigner, and that of her Argentine hero, Mauro Camoranesi, who is rapidly returning to be the player he was in 2006. Just as la Vecchia Signora sent off all her troops to the defence for an Atalanta dominating spell, Camo scored twice in 86 seconds to stun the home crowd and elate the visitors.
Barring the exceptional performances of the old guard, special mentions must be made to Felipe Melo, Christian Poulsen and Diego. Melo finally reaped the rewards of staying in position and struck a wonder goal to restore Juve’s two goal lead and Poulsen has been putting in wonderful defensive displays to allow the attack more freedom. As for the pint-sized Brazilian, he continues to impress. In addition to his tackles at the back and his accurate spraying of the ball, he scored one of the most sublime and genius goals of the game to demonstrate just what all that money can buy you. Unfortunately the same cannot be said of Sebastian Giovinco, who still suffers from his slight physique. Although his nimble frame allowed him to weasel past defenders, it also subjected him to too many tackles that he simply could not shake off and he still needs to learn how to fight off the opposition.
In this sentimental match that was perfectly depicted by the image of Ferrara and Antonio Conte embracing, we finally saw that winning mentality Juventus are so renowned for. Despite their shaky performances at the back, the squad simply did not give up and continued to attack in hopes of stretching their lead to allow them a comfortable victory. The only fear is that the team will get carried away with itself and we will see a complacent Juve after the international break. Thankfully, the Bianconeri received a gift from their old friend Claudio Ranieri, whose sentiments towards José Mourinho continue to sour. He fielded a Roma squad who put in their best performance of the season without their captain to deny Inter maximum points, thus reducing the gap to five points at the top. But the question is – can Juve remain consistent?
Juventus Club Focus 2009/10
Great expectations – August 21, 2009
When in Rome – August 28, 2009
The decline and fall of the Roman Empire – September 1, 2009
World Champions – One in, one out, one remembered – September 4, 2009
International week (Georgia-Italy, Italy-Bulgaria)
Children should be seen, not heard – September 7, 2009
Diego lost to injury in victorious Roman repeat – September 15, 2009
The reserves exposed – September 18, 2009
Transforming the formation – September 23, 2009
The cruel blow of lady injustice – September 25, 2009
Haunted by the ghost of last year’s defence – September 29, 2009
We’re meant to be happy with one point? – October 2, 2009
Is it now time to be negative? – October 6, 2009
Ferrara: public enemy #1 – October 9, 2009
Bad or just misunderstood? – October 13, 2009
Let the bitterness commence – October 16, 2009
Oh Ferrara, will you ever learn? – October 20, 2009
Ferrara, thank you for listening – October 23, 2009
Sampdoria will provide the real test – October 27, 2009
Introducing the real Juve – October 30, 2009
Why are we not surprised? – November 3, 2009
The many faces of Juve – November 6, 2009
A team of hyperboles – November 10, 2009