Del Piero (pen) 70
Two teams having miserable seasons clashed at the Stadio Olimpico in Turin. Lazio’s reluctance to attack and Juventus’ impotence in front of goal saw both sides play out a 1-1 draw.
New Juventus Coach Alberto Zaccheroni did not make any drastic changes to Ciro Ferrara’s set-up. There was no change with respect to personnel and tactics as the familiar 4-3-1-2 formation was employed. One notable difference is that Paolo De Ceglie started and played a full 90 minutes instead of Fabio Grosso. This was a welcome change indeed as De Ceglie was fast, kept his passes short and simple and produced some decent long balls into the box. For a change, Amauri had a slightly better evening as he connected to some of the crosses and produced lay-offs for his teammates. Felipe Melo made absolutely no effort to respond to his ever-increasing criticism and was overshadowed Momo Sissoko, as usual. Martin Caceres played for barely 15 minutes but showed why he should be starting every game ahead of Zdenek Grygera. The Czech full-back did not have a bad game but he could not prevent Stefano Mauri from scoring and does not have the extra attacking dimension that Caceres provides.
It is unreasonable to expect Zaccheroni to make wholesale changes in his very first game and maybe his options were severely restricted due to the long injury list. But if he keeps the same tone throughout the rest of the season, then Juventus will never recover from the problems and it would be very difficult to justify Ferrara’s sacking. It will be interesting to see what kind of changes Zaccheroni will make once he has a full squad at his disposal, especially with respect to Sebastian Giovinco. The youngster did make it to the bench for this match but was probably not fully fit to play.
For some reason, Lazio were scared to come out of their own half. It looked like Coach Davide Ballardini had laid out a game plan to play for a draw and instructed his players to do so. The Aquile had just 37% possession in the match and produced a total of nine shots as compared to Juventus’ 18. Alex Manninger was tested only twice throughout the entire match, one of which resulted in a goal.
There were not many talking points in a relatively drab affair between the two sides except for the controversial penalty. Mobido Diakite’s contact on Alessandro Del Piero was hardly enough for a penalty call but Referee Massimiliano Saccani thought otherwise. The Bianconeri had the lion’s share of possession and were rather comfortable until this point. After Del Piero dispatched the penalty, Ballardini decided to push forward and introduced Tommaso Rocchi for Ousmane Dabo. The Old Lady’s organization broke down for rest of the game and they conceded an equaliser. The inability to defend set-pieces is a major reason for Juventus’ failures this season. Overall, Juventus looked only a shade better under the new Coach, otherwise it was the case of old wine in a new bottle for the Bianconeri.