Sánchez 9, Pepe 65, Di Natale 76
Udinese have had a difficult season so far and at the start of this game, they were fourth from the bottom in the table. But this did not stop them from producing a fine display in front of the home crowd to win comfortably against an impotent Juventus side.
Coach Pasquale Mario opted to start a 4-3-3 with Alexis Sánchez, Simone Pepe and Antonio Di Natale spearheading the attack. The Udinese captain has been in red-hot form this season and it was his superb control and strike that hit the crossbar as early as the 9th minute. Sánchez shrugged off Paolo de Ceglie with ease to tap in a simple rebound. This awakened Juventus players as they started dominating possession and trying their best to attack the Udinese goal. They produced a number of shots, but all of them wayward and never really troubled goalkeeper Samir Handanovič. There was no pace, no creativity and no cutting edge from any of the Juventus players. Alessandro Del Piero tried to create chances but was not helped by his teammates. His free-kick in the first half that was easily parried away by Handanovič was the best chance Juventus could muster. All of the Udinese defense, especially Cristian Zapata, was having a field day against a joke of an attacking force.
With the way Udinese forwards sliced through Juventus’ defence, it was clear that they would score another one. Surely enough, the goal came in the form of Simone Pepe as not a single Bianconeri defender marked him. The goal net was ripped at the hinges due to Pepe’s shot and was perhaps symbolic of the tattered state of The Old Lady. A couple of half-chances followed but Juve could not convert them. Udinese soon added a third goal as Di Natale rounded off a superb team move with a brilliant strike. While the Capocannoniere favorite will certainly make the trip to South Africa, he has not been able to take his superb club form to international level. With a severe shortage of potent attacking force in the national team, the Azzurri faithful will be pinning their hopes on Di Natale.
Everything went wrong for Juventus as they failed to score against a side with one of the worst defensive records in the league. Alberto Zaccheroni chose a 4-4-2 formation which was never going to work. Claudio Marchisio is not nearly as effective on the left wing and his performance proved it. It is well known that Felipe Melo and Momo Sissoko are extremely poor passers of the ball. In such a situation, there was no link-up between midfield and the forwards. Amauri was at his static worst and his negative attitude was not helping the team. Antonio Candreva is in better form than most of his midfield teammates and should have started the game along with Sebastian Giovinco and Vincenzo Iaquinta.
With this result, it is increasingly likely that the Old Lady will not qualify for the Champions League. As a result of this humiliation, Juventus imposed a media blackout. It remains to be seen how the Turin crowd will react to this situation when they host Cagliari next week.