Consistency has begun to emanate from a Juventus side determined to overcome the extremely harsh obstacles they were forced to face. In a spectacular display of mental strength, a severely depleted Juve, worn out by their heavy schedule and without many of their star names, kept an energetic Cesena side at bay and bagged three to keep their Scudetto dream alive. It was a hard fought match and the away side arrived in Turin desperate to overcome their recent poor form and exercise that strong mentality that saw them defeat Milan.
True to form, Juventus struggled in the beginning as the minnows controlled their wings, pressed Juventus high up the pitch and exploited any error made by the giants. They started the match with such fervour and determination that they stole a goal in the first 11 minutes to terrify the home fans especially at it came off the back of woeful defending. Luis Jiménez, Ezequiel Schelotto, Emanuele Giaccherini and Marco Parolo stormed the wings, carved out brilliant opportunities and wrought havoc on the newly integrated Fabio Grosso and the ever struggling Marco Motta. The latter simply could not keep up and seemed inundated by the sheer amount of defensive work required. So much so that Luigi Del Neri had to choice but to ask Claudio Marchisio and Simone Pepe to switch sides so that the former could help little Motta in defence as Juventus looked weak at the back.
The match was far from easy and Juventus were greatly helped out by Max Pellegrino of Cesena. His clumsy hold of Bonucci’s jersey earned the Bianconeri a penalty and his second foul got him dismissed forcing his side to go down to 10 men. Of course a red card meant that an attacker had to be sacrificed for a defensive player and off came Schelotto, who was a menace on the right flank and a constant irritation for a struggling Grosso. Only then did Juventus begin to control play and regain possession of the wings. With such a nervy performance, one only wonders how the Bianconeri would have performed against 11 men that included the skill of Schelotto.
It was the midfield that allowed Cesena to impose their energy on an exhausted Juve side in the beginning. They were failing to create any good opportunities and without Felipe Melo, Del Neri had to rely on Momo Sissoko who gave possession away as quickly as he earned it. The Malian was a nuisance in the centre of the pitch and failed to provide adequate cover to a newly-formed defence in the light of increasing injuries. However, with a back-line that included a young Dane, Frederik Sorensen, who was handed his debut after arriving in the summer from Lyngby, and Fabio Grosso who has now been forgiven for refusing a transfer away, both excelled in their roles and improved vastly as the game went on. The Dane especially put in a fine performance as he demonstrated his excellent vision and thorough reading of the game, perhaps earning him a recall. However, it was both his and Bonucci’s fault for conceding the goal as both stood idly by watching the ball whilst their target men were left unmarked.
Nonetheless, that goal sparked something for the Bianconeri, who began to threaten the away side with long range passes and the derivation of free-kicks from dangerous locations. Alberto Aquilani and Alessandro Del Piero started to pull the strings of creation as both worked on formulating clever plays in hopes of finding an equaliser that duly arrived. The regista must be singled out for praise as not only has he put his effective passing to good use to keep play moving but his sensational ability to dictate tempo and pick out strikers have made him a valuable asset that Juventus hope they will not lose to injury. Alongside him, Claudio Marchisio has also improved, commanding praise for his ability to play as a winger. Gigi Del Neri has managed what Marcello Lippi failed to do at the World Cup – play Marchisio out of position and yet still manage to get the best out of him. His superb cross to the box that found the head of the hungry Fabio Quagliarella demonstrated the ease with which he has adapted to his new role.
For what many described as an average set of players, the Old Lady has already accomplished more that she had bargained for at the start of the season as she currently sits in fourth place. Her Coach has reinstated a real belief in the power to succeed and reinforced the Juve name and pride that sees each player eager to accrue another win. It will be a tough week for the club that plays three matches in six days but if they continue to believe then surely anything is possible.