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Thursday December 6 2012
Juve dig for victory in Donetsk

Seemingly bound for elimination after three games, Juventus went on to top the most challenging of Champions League sections. Scott Fleming lauds the Bianconeri.

“The best is yet to come,” promised Antonio Conte after his Juventus side’s demolition of Chelsea two weeks ago. And how right he was. Last night’s 1-0 victory over Shakhtar Donetsk at the Donbass Arena was less comprehensive than the 3-0 win over Chelsea at the Juventus Stadium, less stylish, but it was in many ways more impressive. It was more of a statement.

The Bianconeri overcame one of Europe’s form outfits, a side they were comprehensively outplayed by in the previous fixture in Turin. They did so at one of Europe’s most intimidating arenas, the Donbass, where it took Shakhtar two years to suffer their first defeat after making it their new home in 2009.  

They also overcame the scepticism of those who insist upon ascribing Machiavellian motives to every Italian team that steps on to a pitch, with suggestions of a ‘Biscotto’, or agreed draw, rife before the game.

Shakhtar are nicknamed the Miners, but in fact it’s Juventus who have proved more adept at digging theirselves out of a hole.

At the halfway stage in Group E La Vecchia Signora’s long awaited return to the Champions League was beginning to look like a crushing anti-climax, Conte’s men trailing Chelsea and Shakhtar by one and four points respectively after drawing their first three fixtures.

At that point most observers had less confidence in Juve’s chances of qualifying for the last 16 than Conte has in Nicklas Bendtner.

The thrashings of Nordsjaelland and Chelsea boosted hopes, but winning the group? That still seemed a thoroughly outlandish proposition until 11 minutes into the second half last night, when Olexandr Kucher diverted a cross into his own net under pressure from Sebastian Giovinco.

Giovinco has endured plenty of stick since his return to Turin, and whilst he’s netted in big games, they’ve tended to be ‘cherry on the cake’ strikes, scored when the game was already won. Donetsk felt like the first occasion the Atomic Ant had been truly decisive, even if the goal wasn’t his, as Stephan ‘Pinocchio’ Lichtsteiner made sure to point out during the celebrations.

It was a night for unlikely heroes, with Angelo Alessio another of them. The stand-in boss has – perhaps unfairly – had most of the blame for the Serie A defeats to Inter and Milan piled on top of him, but on his last touchline outing before Conte’s return on Sunday, got to oversee one of the most significant victories in the club’s recent history.

“It was difficult to do without Antonio, but the team knows what it has to do and how it must move, so they helped the situation immensely,” stated the unassuming assistant.

“I want Real Madrid in the next round,” announced Leonardo Bonucci, which sounds like bluster but actually makes a modicum of sense. Juve cast the big boys asunder, but toiled against the likes of Bologna and Lecce on their way to the Serie A title last year, and it’s a theme we’ve seen repeated in this Champions League campaign.

This Juventus side performs best on the big occasions, with the odds stacked against them, so getting Lichtsteiner’s wish and drawing Celtic, or a team of that ilk, may not necessarily be a good thing.

The players might not be able to agree on what opponent they want to see pulled out the hat in Nyon later this month, but uniformity of opinion can be found on the other side of the draw. Because after their performance last night, no one wants to face Juve

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Have your say...
@marcello

#1 WRONG! juve accumulated more points than real with 12 (maybe your math bad)

#2 Juve hadn't lost in the group stage while real lost 1

#3 If you look at the points juve 12 shak 10 chel 10 nord 1 , compare bayern 14 real 11 ajax 4 man city 3

who has the toughes group game?

#4 In domestic juve 15 games accumulated 35, real 14 games accumulated 29

#5 Real ALWAYS with mourinho on bench with good striker, Juve so far WITHOUT conte on bench also without good striker
on the 8th December, 2012 at 10:55am
Spain were lucky against Portugal who deserved victory. Italy outplayed England and Germany.
on the 8th December, 2012 at 9:37am
#1, Madrid accumulated more pts than Juve with 11. #2, they were in a tougher group it has to be said. You can match up team for team and compare if you like. As for the Nazionale and the 1-1 draw, I'll remind you that De Rossi was pushed back to CB that game and had a stand out performance. I'm not saying Juve are no good, they are good. However to be ASKING to play Madrid, and the celebration over a group stage advancement .. it's a little premature to me and that defense I'm not sold on.
on the 7th December, 2012 at 8:39pm
Marcello our defence might not be amongst the great but can holdtheir own the problem in euro was lack of rotation n the defenders being thrown straight into action after an injury the whole team played badly if other players dont hold the ball help the defence out then how long can 4 man defence hold a team like spain out same with inter the team just didnt perform, chelsea had fast attackers n we held well against them coz speed aint every thing in defence, simple example giovinco vs zanetti
on the 7th December, 2012 at 5:33pm
@marcello

Last but not least, you and some others on these blogs can hate on Juve all you want, fact is Juve will always be successful domestically & Internationally Also we have reached enough international finals to prove our quality and that none of our success is bought. We may go out in the last 16, we may reach the final, one fact remains we can dream as we have enough quality. Milan on the other hand won't get past this round.
on the 7th December, 2012 at 4:56pm
@marcello

And as far as the CL is concerned, realistically most of us Juventini will be happy with a semi final as it is our first run in the CL after a long absence and that is nothing to sniff at. However there is nothing that says we can't beat Real, Barca or Bayern in a Final. Of course overall those teams are better but im sure we can compete on even terms with each.
on the 7th December, 2012 at 4:41pm
@marcello

Why juve should fear real? Juve top of the group n top of the table WITHOUT conte on the bench. If you think real was so good then howcome they on the 3rd la liga table and on 2nd as a group phase WITH mourinho on the bench playing the mind games.

Fact is a fact. All juve need is world striker then juve would round circle casilas. Had we still have del piero he prob gonna have standing ovation in bernabeu again and real going to close the curtain.


Forza Juve
on the 7th December, 2012 at 4:38pm
@marcello

First of all when it comes to the Euros, the first game that we played against Spain showed our class and strength. No excuses just class, in the final game CP changed everything from formation to tactics, not to mention that we had less time to recover and quiet honestly had more players injured than expected. No excuses mate just facts. Spain certainly has more depth and individual quality than Italy but on any given day we can play on even terms with Spain that mate is a fact.
on the 7th December, 2012 at 4:36pm
And please stop with the excuses for the Italian national team in the Euro's, not enough rest .. please. I am and have always been a Nazionale supporter, but call a spade a spade, Spain outclassed our team. AND .. our team's defense is almost the entire Juve backline. Saw big leaks in that defense, and it's nowhere near the greats La Nazionale had at one time (Cannavaro, Baresi, Maldini, Costacorta, Nesta, etc). Inter, and a STRUGGLING Milan both gave that defense problems. Watch what happens.
on the 7th December, 2012 at 3:44pm
This must be the best quote of all from a Juve fan, "Now that Conte is back, Juve will be destructive again. I bet that Juve will become semi-finalist this season." YES , be content with your semi-final finish. It's no wonder Juve still trail Inter and Milan in CL cups .. can't buy it in Europe. Real's defense isn't better than Juve's, never said that .. but their strikers are much better. Can't wait to watch Ronaldo & Di Maria run circles around Barzagli and Bonucci
on the 7th December, 2012 at 3:40pm
as a juve fan, i need to address the idiot juve fans out there right now. Which moron was it that said they want Juve to draw Madrid? Juve are a Pot 2 team. To even think Juve can compete with Madrid and their manager, is ridiculous. Mourinho would play mind games with Conte and the game would alreayd be lost from that point. If that did not work, Ronaldo would singled handedly dominate Juve's defence. Spanish teams are too fast. I hope we draw Celtic, easiest route.
on the 7th December, 2012 at 2:48pm
Marcelo is on his own here. Poor guy. Juve have a better defence AND goalkeeer than Madrid. he just need a fast worldclas 1,80-85 cm tall striker.
on the 7th December, 2012 at 11:26am
@marcello oh and forgot to mention juentus was also one of only 4 teams to go threw with no games lost
on the 7th December, 2012 at 10:51am
@marcello only 5 teams scored more point in the group phase then juventus. only one team psg conceded less goals (3) compared to the 4 of juve. only psg had a better goal average and juventus had the 4th highest goals scored.

so firstly the defence can not be that bad and seeing that we dont have a big name striker and are still 4th highest can you imagine where we would be if we had a cavani or van persie!!!

haters always try their best to put one down but stats are stats!!!
on the 7th December, 2012 at 10:44am
@italian canada: i lol'd for that hahahaha
on the 7th December, 2012 at 8:49am
One thing people fail to mention is the game Pogba had, he had a great game showing great composure, Juve big 3 in the back are among the best in Europe! No longer do we hear about Bonucci mistakes, he has become a huge imposing presence in the back for juve and Italy this past year, with a 2 man front Juve will always go wanting for much needed goals 3-5-2 leans heavily on Defence first, Conte has gotten great striking support through his mid field and thats what it will take for Juve to contu
on the 7th December, 2012 at 4:06am
Marcello.... You clearly don't have any football knowledge regarding Italian football, with your ludicrous remarks! Euro2012 match opener Italy 1 spain 1.... Should of won! Euro2012 final Italy 0 spain 4.... All round unlucky day! Less time to prepare, 24hours less in fact, best defender we have Chiellini limps off after 15mins, let's not forget T.Motta coming on as final sub and lasting 5mins, then having to play against spain with 10men for 35minutes! So the final is not a fair view in my eyes
on the 7th December, 2012 at 3:51am
What a game, one of the bet I've seen all season. Juve played out of their skin and outdid all my expectations away to a team who are on par with most top clubs on their day. The performances of Lichtstiener and Pogba especially deserve much praise for never falling under 99% in sheer work rate and commitment. This should really set the tone for after xmas.

Bring on Real.
on the 7th December, 2012 at 1:52am
Hope Juve buy a great striker this winter..
on the 7th December, 2012 at 12:35am
Imagine if we had Cavani up front paired with Giovinco or Vucinic? We would be a phenominal top european class team. The Cavani dream aside... I do not expect a top-class striker arriving in January - or even in the summer. The Juve we have now is the one we all need to get used to.
on the 6th December, 2012 at 10:35pm
So glad the land didn't let us the fans down or our incredible manger King Conte and we are playing well at the moment but I just think we're getting ahead of ourselves, yes we topped our group and top of Serie but we seemed to be making to many mistakes on the field in front of the goal and in defense at the moment we're getting lucky but teams like Real would take advantage if those chances but never less we have showed the hole of Europe and the World that we mean business.

FORZA JUVE!!!!!
on the 6th December, 2012 at 10:33pm
..........what can you say?????? I suppose. It was natural, Juve are the 'old lady' of European football, she's back to strut her stuff!,, FORZA JUVE!
on the 6th December, 2012 at 10:19pm
Marcello, I get so tired of people bringing up the 4-0 defeat against Spain. It's funny how people forget that Italy had less time to rest for both the semi final & final. More importantly half of Italy's team were carrying injuries: Chiellini, Abate, Barzagli, De Rossi, & Balzaretti; and others such as Cassano & Montolivo were running on empty. Spain were great, but they did not face the real Italy that day. Juve are a very solid team, & will be very tough to eliminate.
on the 6th December, 2012 at 10:07pm
@ marcello

Hah !

Juve back line is better than the back line of Real Madrid. Not to mention the goalkeeper too.

Pray that Juve don't demolish Real Madrid when they face off.

FACT, Juve didn't concede in the last three CL games.

So,

Go play with a lollipop or something.
on the 6th December, 2012 at 9:53pm
Now that Conte is back, Juve will be destructive again. I bet that Juve will become semi-finalist this season.

Finally, we don't have to deal with Alessio again.
on the 6th December, 2012 at 9:48pm
@marcello

Juventus have been playing without their coach on the bench and without top striker like Real has, and yet still end top of the group also top of the table in serie A.

No matter who will be the next team, the coach will be there to assist them.

No Fear

Forza Juve
on the 6th December, 2012 at 9:39pm
This is comical. 3 out of the last 4 goals from Juve in CL have been 2 deflections and an own goal. They have BIG problems finishing, and that defense is going to get exposed if they play a team like Real. I'm guessing the other reviewers didn't watch that Juve back-line in the Euro's when they got worked by SPAIN. Inter did the same. Juve, pray you don't get Real. Pray.
on the 6th December, 2012 at 8:24pm
If Juventus maintain this style of play, as they did last year, beleive me, they will reach beyond any expectations
on the 6th December, 2012 at 6:44pm
Really hope Juve win the Champions League or at least get to the Semi Finals then maybe the so called "experts" from the Globally Financed Media Overhyped Money League can shut up and not keep disrespecting Serie A
on the 6th December, 2012 at 5:30pm
We have yet to see 'Conte's Juve' in the truest sense of the word this season. Carrera, and to a lesser extent Alessio, have done a good job in his absence - top of Serie A and Group Winners is all the Juve faithful could ask for. Now we need to ship out Bendtner and Matri, buy a decent striker in January, and with Conte back on the bench the rest of Europe's top teams should be very worried indeed!

Bravo Juve - back where they belong!
on the 6th December, 2012 at 5:24pm

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