Club Focus – Juventus – Midfield matters

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It was a match won and controlled by Juventus in midfield and now the Old Lady can revel in the fact that she remains undefeated in nine matches. What a glorious midfield it was as it featured all the right attributes to take home all three points. Felipe Melo brought with him a refined sense of physical strength and played like a Brazilian ball winner should – aggressive but effective. Thanks to the help of Alberto Aquilani, the player has undoubtedly transformed into a vital cog of the Juve midfield and alongside the ex-Romanista, Melo’s passing and vision has improved as has his footballing intelligence allowing him to not only secure the defence but to launch attacks.
However, the afternoon belonged to Aquilani’s incredible feet and deft touch and Milos Krasić’s awe inspiring creativity. The Italian’s pinpoint long passes, his ability to sweep the ball and direct another clever pass and his tantalising partnership with the Brazilian brute alongside him makes one hope that the injury he suffered was only a minor one. Whilst Diego was happy to move the ball around horizontally last season, Aquilani lengthens the squad and imposes a vertical structure to their play. And of course no-one takes advantage of a pass like Krasić, who was often found playing at the very edge of the sidelines, stretching the Genovese defence to create a gap between their left-back and central defender. His ability to play so far wide is what makes him a necessity to Del Neri’s style of football and makes it all that more entertaining when he does eventually cut in to unleash a powerful shot at goal. The two stole the show as they pierced the Grifone defence time and time again, exposing Genoa’s weaknesses and the disjointed nature of their play.
In response to a match so serenely controlled by the teamwork of a Juve side, il Grifone picked up multiple yellow cards as they attempted to stifle the away side and impose their strength. The problem with Genoa is that their frustration and aggressive nature ultimately lost them the game and in the eagerness to win, they gifted Juventus a chance to exploit their frustrations especially in their first half. Tactically they were disorganised and it was hard to decipher exactly what formation they were playing – whether they were aiming for a 5-4-1, 3-4-2-1 or a 4-3-3 formation. Even the players seemed confused with positioning thus making it appear that they were unfamiliar with one another in an incoherent display of football. In defence, they were overly concerned with double-marking the opponent and often neglected vast amounts of space for the Bianconeri to exploit, undoubtedly losing out to the pace and strength of the Juve midfield that dominated with ease. In attack, when Juventus would often plant six players in the box to make use of a cross, Genoa seemed unable to match their courage and were often without many suitable options up top after laboriously working the ball up to the final third.
What Genoa needed to do was calm down and hold on to the ball until they could construct an effective piece of attacking display to earn a goal. On average, it only takes 13 seconds to score a goal and yet the Rossoblu seemed to be in a constant rush, often taking short cuts. With each missed shot, their frustration grew until inevitably the match became littered with yellow cards for the Grifone players, who were increasingly perturbed by their inability to get one back.
In the second half, Del Neri made inevitable substitutions and narrowed the Juventus midfield, perhaps a little too early into the game, but the home side were unable to exploit the lack of width as they centralised their attack making life easy for the men in black in white. Nonetheless, it must be said that the team were unlucky as they not only conceded one in bizarre circumstances but they hit the crossbar twice to deny themselves at least one point. President Enrico Preziosi might feel better in claiming that Juventus won by having a fit and healthy Claudio Marchisio and Melo on the field whilst his players were exhausted after international duty but the truth of the matter is that Juventus were superior on the day and played like a team ought to in a cohesive manner.
Whilst the Juve midfield rightfully earn their commendations, the defence, including a spectacular Marco Storari, ensured a clean sheet and maximum points. Such was his performance that many fans hardly miss the indomitable Gianluigi Buffon, who Vinovo has now welcomed back. But it was the ease with which Frederik Sorensen slotted in on the right that truly impressed the away fans as they witnessed their young and cheap summer purchase do what Marco Motta struggled to do for 55 minutes. He is physical, clever and confident and is certainly one to watch.
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