A sensational victory for the Bianconeri who played a mouth-watering fixture against a side eventually left without any willingness to keep fighting. The last time the two black and white teams met, Juventus suffered a crushing defeat that epitomised the failure of last season. The memories of that fateful day were duly erased on Sunday as Luigi Del Neri’s squad arrived determined to succeed and surpassed even their own wildest expectations. With a clean sheet in the bag, the players’ sheer desire to win and their cohesiveness handed them a first league win in the season and a thoroughly well-deserved one at that.
Leonardo Bonucci’s resolve to monstrously attack the ball and score the first goal perfectly characterised the mental attitude of the Bianconeri. Disappointed at a somewhat timid start to this year’s campaign and despite having accrued results that have failed to mirror their hard work, Del Neri unleashed a squad with conviction and one that brought back happy memories of triumphant times. Every single player sacrificed themselves and worked together to create chances, help out the defence and motivate the others. Simone Pepe was forced to act as a sort of full-back to come to Zdenek Grygera’s aid when needed, due to an unfamiliar deployment on the left. Marco Motta overcame the trauma suffered against the Cassano-led Sampdoria and comfortably gelled together with Milos Krasic on the wing, occasionally overlapping him to offer his own contribution. And Felipe Melo, the man who ordinarily would still be sulking after a dismal display – such as the one against Lech Proznan – came out with guns blazing and absolutely controlled the midfield. The intimidator comfortably won back possession, covered the defence and delivered neat passes to keep the game moving.
Having suffered through the humiliation of last season, which saw Juventus burdened by their narrow play, it was pleasing to see how the attack worked swimmingly well, mostly thanks to the activity on the wings. At last, Juventus are no longer reliant on centralised attacks filtered through Diego to create goal-scoring chances. Now opponents do not simply congest the central area to suffocate the Bianconeri’s attacking play but are instead forced to stretch their defensive roles. In this manner, the likes of Milos Krasic have the chance to shine and Sunday night belonged to the Serbian star who ruled the roost on the right and whose abilities greatly complemented the skills of the Juve forwards. His cunning pace ensured that he consistently outran his adversaries while his abilities to both exploit space and deliver vital crosses were rewarded with two spectacular goals. He was certainly the best player on the pitch.
With wingers, Juve have finally resolved their creativity problem as Udinese defenders had their hands full with marking every inch of the pitch, all too aware of the away side’s capability of using it to their advantage. One can only imagine how much better this Juventus would have been, had there been a better left-back in play to allow Pepe the opportunity to leave his defensive duties behind and indulge in his attacking prowess. The Coach and his followers maintained it was only a matter of time before it would all pan out for the Old Lady and – lo and behold – against the Zebrette, we finally witnessed a Juve squad in Del Neri’s vision – dominating the flanks and attacking space. Perhaps now, the pain of losing Diego has eased as Krasic is proving to be more than an adequate replacement.
Despite the brilliance of the attack helped greatly by Krasic and Claudio Marchisio (another Bianconero to be singled out for praise) problems still exist in the squad and especially in the defence. Even when considering the frailties of Udinese, their attack was still able to spring Juve’s offside trap and occasionally managed to get behind the defenders to threaten the away side. As a whole, the Old Lady is still susceptible to quick counter-attacks and had she faced a faster and a more confident side, she would have had to make do without her helpful midfielders, by forcing them into defensive duties, above all else. If Juve plan to continue creating goal-scoring chances, then they need all the help they can get: for example, a solid and comfortable back-line.
However, the glory of the night belonged to the little moments throughout the game that suggested Juventus were finally a team. From Alessandro Del Piero coaching Claudio Marchisio to the kiss Gigi Del Neri planted on Melo’s face as a gesture of gratitude , this formation really wants to go far this season. Of course, Palermo will provide a real test as they were by far the better team last year. If Juventus can stifle their play and impose their own winged offense, we can rest assured this game was not merely a fluke.