BLOG ITALIA
Tuesday December 17 2013
Lightning Juventus streak clear

They might not be able to progress in Europe, but they are still too strong for Serie A. Giancarlo Rinaldi reports on how Juve moved clear in another tempestuous round of matches. 

It was a long weekend that seemed to increase its intensity like a rumble of thunder. It started almost imperceptibly with a low-key goalless clash between Catania and Verona but built to a cracking crescendo across Sunday and Monday.  When the storm had settled it was Juventus, as always, who seemed to emerge unscathed.

There is a bit of the big fish in a small pond syndrome here as the Bianconeri can crush opponents at will on the domestic front but fail to do so in Europe. That is not such a new phenomenon for the club as it used to happen fairly regularly back in the 1970s. Antonio Conte's side is throttling the life out of Serie A again this year but they need something to click on their continental campaigns if they are to do themselves justice on a more important stage.

They took out their disappointment at Champions League elimination with a suitably ruthless dispatching of Sassuolo in a game shifted to Sunday after Juve's unwanted icy extension to their stay in Turkey. Carlos Tevez - who hasn't scored in Europe's top competition in something like 5,000 years (I may have exaggerated a little) - was the main executioner with a tremendous hat-trick. Nonetheless, it is hard not to agree with Angelo Di Livio when he says this version of the Turin giants is not - for the time being at least - comparable with the one he played for.

Regardless of that fact, they remain in total control of the Serie A scene. Events even played out in their favour in a gripping and sometimes grouchy Monday night battle at the San Siro. Closest rivals Roma were held to a draw by a Milan side which finally showed some of the spirit their fans have accused them of lacking in recent times. The return of Francesco Totti to action from the substitutes’ bench was a major tonic for the Giallorossi, but not enough to give them the three points they craved.

Twice the visitors took the lead - through Mattia Destro and a Kevin Strootman penalty - but twice they were hauled back thanks to goals from such unlikely sources as Cristian Zapata and Sulley Muntari. It was as much about guts as guile for Max Allegri’s men and they showed a stomach for the fight which has seemed missing in many past encounters. Maybe being the only Italian side in the last 16 of the Champions League has finally convinced them they are not quite as poor a side as everyone keeps telling them they are.

On Sunday night, Napoli emerged victorious from another goal feast which seems to have become standard fare in Italy this season. Walter Mazzarri and Rafa Benitez were facing their managerial past when Inter visited the San Paolo. It was the Spaniard who left smiling while the Tuscan spat his fury - as he always seems to do in defeat - at a match which he felt his team dominated but left empty handed.

There was some justification to his claims but this Neapolitan side is ruthless in taking its chances and the Nerazzurri defence is becoming more generous than Santa. The Partenopei have the kind of finishers any team would envy and only another penalty save from Samir Handanovic from Goran Pandev kept the scoreline to just 4-2. A by-the-book but match-spoiling red card for Ricky Alvarez for handball when there was just a goal between the sides all but decided the game.

That defeat for Inter allowed Fiorentina to sneak up to fourth spot with a sumptuous success over woeful Bologna. Josip Ilicic started efforts to justify his hefty transfer fee with the opener followed by beauties from Borja Valero and Giuseppe Rossi. The Derby of the Appenines was all downhill for the Viola after that.

Elsewhere, Miro Klose eased the pressure on Vlad Petkovic with a double to give Lazio victory over Livorno. Torino sneaked further up the table with an away win over Udinese and the Sinisa Mihajlovic effect continued to produce results for Samp with a vital win over Chievo in the lower reaches. Parma and Cagliari and Genoa and Atalanta shared the spoils in their matches to make another little step each towards survival.

There are now just three games left before Serie A hits its halfway point and it would be easy to jump to conclusions at both ends of the table. Catania could already be consigned to Serie B and we could start stitching another Scudetto onto Juve’s shirts. But that ignores the fact that there is still plenty of action to take place in what is proving a riotous season for goalmouth action. And, of course, the new year kicks off with the little matter of the Bianconeri going toe-to-toe with Roma in a match no Calcio connoisseur can afford to miss.

Think you know your Italian football? Share your knowledge, tips and comments to win cash prizes in OLBG's tipster competition - £5,000 monthly.

Have your say...
@paul

Then whats the point Higuain in Napoli if he didn't bring them to UCL, you're argument make you looked stupid. You think just because Juve don't have Higuain they out from UCL ???

Last year went to quarter final WITHOUT higuain!!

WITHOUT HIGUAIN!!!

read that again
on the 29th December, 2013 at 8:00am
did higuain score in the champions league would juventus be in the champions league if they signed higuain,i think they would juve are a better team than napoli higuain would of scored numerous goals for juve buy cheap pay the the price juventus did pay the price early exit and cant beat a bunch of postmen.
on the 23rd December, 2013 at 9:05pm
higuain at juventus = still in the champions league you idiot
on the 23rd December, 2013 at 9:01pm
@romafans
Juve two seasons ago played unbeaten and at this stage into the league, they were far leading by points. Ok my arguement is this, then juve were playing only in Serie A which they didnt have any stiff competitive games in Europe. They did so and and stayed at the top of the table and won the league unbeaten, now let me ask this about Roma, whom are not playing in any compertive games but yet still trail with 5point. Well lets see how strong Roma get this result in Juve Arena. Forza juv
on the 23rd December, 2013 at 12:31am
@BOSS

I may not good in typing english since it's not my first language, but I'm smarter than you.

Only idiot would come and whine to the league that they don't like.

And only idiot thinks that the world only have one language.

Yes of course you can come and go whatever you like, but that doesn't change that you're an idiot.
on the 22nd December, 2013 at 8:46pm
Balodiver I will come and go wherever I please. I will criticise the league all I want. Also, have you tried educating yourself on how to type in English. Your skills are poor.
on the 22nd December, 2013 at 2:02pm
Very good point Nicola, well said - Buon Natale everyone & forza JUVE x
on the 21st December, 2013 at 9:41am
Quick note to all haters of seria a, grab your bottom lip over your faces and keep pulling over your head, and in one swift gulp (SWALLOW)!. Haters will be Haters........
on the 20th December, 2013 at 1:55am
@paul

And where is Napoli in CL now? What the point of your argument?

@Boss

Why are you still here if you don't care about this league? Tyson fighting 5 year old boy? Get your meds before you go into this crap serie A the league that you say so crap but you like to come and eating it.

@Emil

By your comment if Catania owned a stadium they will win Serie A too?
on the 19th December, 2013 at 9:34pm
i don't care if he don't work for the team i want my forward in box and only in the box banging goals in not running round the pitch mate another person clueless about football scoring goals in serie is obviously easier than scoring goals in the champions league higuain scores in the champions league tevez 12 million no cl goals,forward = stay in penalty area and bang goals in thats what hes paid for juventus showed their ambition with the cheap option with tevez.
on the 18th December, 2013 at 11:15pm
And it was me that was calling Roma a Christmas break team. Didn't doubt for a minute juve would win this league. I don't care what happens, or who gets injured, juve's competition just isn't competitive.

Note I didn't say juve were good, just that the competition is abysmal. It's like Tyson fighting a 5 year old boy. In Europe however, those 5 year old boys turn into men, and show the best team in Italy why they are limited to Italy.
on the 18th December, 2013 at 8:15pm
@roma4ever

You wishing too much. Roma were leading 5points and now whos on top?

What happen to those who said it will be #17 straight win? (over confident romas fans hahaha) Not gonna happen.
on the 18th December, 2013 at 8:26am
let's see what happens in the winter break.
on the 17th December, 2013 at 11:13pm
Daniele de Rossi made a comment that juventus had a few favourable calls go their way in the past few games. My comment to Daniele is yesterdays game with Milan the hand ball with Dodo of Roma which was a clear penalty and in plain view of the ref which would've given milan the lead, (wow) talk about eating your own words. The call wasn't rewarded to Milan it's pure sheer frustration. Forza Juve.
on the 17th December, 2013 at 9:51pm
hahahahaha are you all mad . ROMA !!!!!!!!!HAHAHAHAHA thats juves competition . roma and crapoli couldnt win a raffle . omg im so glad inter and milan are crap also . juve will probably win for the next 3 years given the current filth of teams . the day a team with michael bradley wins the serie A i will never support juve again ahahahaha you people are delusional .
on the 17th December, 2013 at 9:45pm
i willcontinue to say . crapoli and roma were Never going to win the serie A . its a good thing crapoli is out of the cl also . higuain is a big waste of money . crapoli might not even finish 2nd . as anonymous said they are two different types of players and tevez is good enough for serie a . juve won the league since the start of november hahaha again bow down to the gods of serie a . it is the objective of any big club to win 1 trophy each season . juve will get 6 to 7 trophies in 3 years .ha
on the 17th December, 2013 at 9:37pm
So scoring 10 goals in 16 matches is the same as not scoring goals? Sure Higuain has scored four goals in CL, but he is not working his ass out for the team the same way Tevez is doing. They are two different attackers - Higuain has not been performing better. So until now the big fee is not justified.
on the 17th December, 2013 at 9:19pm
thats what happens when you spend 12 million instead of buying higuain ,the logic doesn't fit you wont spend that amount on higuain and buy tevez but you bomb out of the champions league so you do the mathon lost revenue and the cost of higuain, tevez hasnt scored in the champions league for two years this is why i don't feel sorry for juve big ambitions means big transfers. nothing to do with conte he put the players on the pitch and they still cant score goals buy a better forward.
on the 17th December, 2013 at 7:19pm
@ Roma4ever: I look forward to the end of the season!! All I will say is your boys and Manager have themselves to blame, is it 16 games unbeaten and now ONLY 5 points behind?
My fellow Juve supporters, whilst disappointed with the CL exit, they will hopefully read your comments, burst out laughing then queue up after me to tell you something on similar lines.
FORZA Juve! :-)
on the 17th December, 2013 at 7:11pm
@ Dennis Emanuelson was ok but he's not a left back so was caught out for the first goal. I completely agree that Muntari, NDJ, Poli and Monty are an odd midfield combo especially with only Balo upfront. Balo could do nothing without service.

@ Zoli just about summed up the performance. Completely agree.
on the 17th December, 2013 at 6:43pm
@ Daniel Giambrone re Monty it's probably a combination of those factors. Personally I think Monty's best position is left of centre where he played for Fiorentina. At Milan Allegri has played him in every position in midfield. When he plays in front of the defence it just annoys me because we use to have Pirlo in that position! If we're going to play with a proper DM then it has to NDJ or Muntari (who isn't very mobile). Muntari and NDJ cannot play together as they're both immobile!
on the 17th December, 2013 at 6:38pm
Italian in Canada, Juve started the season with a fairly settled side in comparison to Roma. Not only did Roma have a new coach, they also had to integrate: De Sanctis, Maicon, Benatia, Strootman, Ljajic & Gervinho into their first 11. Juve did start the campaign in a sluggish fashion. I don't think that the Con Fed cup did their pre season preparations any favours. As for Europe, they didn't play with the intensity that we have seen for the past two years. That, & they were not clinical enough.
on the 17th December, 2013 at 5:35pm
" Maybe being the only Italian side in the last 16 of the Champions League has finally convinced them they are not quite as poor a side as everyone keeps telling them they are."

Actually and sadly, they are. Getting out of the group was pretty much like the Roma game. It somehow happened. We didn't lose but we didn't win. Two more games and the CL season is over. I don't know how much longer will Balo put up with the surrounding mediocrity. Probably not too long.
on the 17th December, 2013 at 5:19pm
Agree with most of the comments. Conte must change tactics and some rotational options. 352 for Europa league is a no no a better formation would be 3421 which covers defense more efficiently in the mid and allows the two support strikers to help the midfield advance the ball quicker. Pretty much a 6 man midfield.
on the 17th December, 2013 at 4:37pm
It was a good game from Juve, although I wish there was an alternative to Asamoah. He had three very good scoring opportunities and took none of them, otherwise it was a good performance. Juve will most likely be taking their third scudetto this term.
on the 17th December, 2013 at 4:35pm
It seems that you Giancarlo Rinaldi are a big Juve fan!!! WELL, buddy boy let me tell you this; they are so lucky this year, but their luck will come to an end before the end of the season, that is when Roma will take over and win the Scudetto BIG TIME. This goes for you and for you all Juve Fans. Better to swallow it today rather you schoke it later.
on the 17th December, 2013 at 3:53pm
If Llorente was in form for the first few champion's league games the results would have been different. Vucinic has to go ! The team can't rely solely on pirlo so either we find his replacement or learn to play without him.
on the 17th December, 2013 at 3:34pm
The ref was poor especially against Milan with some strange decisions even if Zapata seemed to score with his hand. Booking Kaka and not Maicon for similar fouls was just 1 of his many odd decisions. Gervinho is a very skilful player with not 1 football brain cell in his head. His decision making is quite baffling while Llajic really has to step up to the plate. Muntari, DJ, Poli, Monto is an odd midfield combo. Welcome back Totti but I thot he slowed Roma down a bit but he is crucial to them
on the 17th December, 2013 at 2:28pm
Great game yesterday and a few observations, I was pleasantly surprised to see Zapata, Muntari, Emmanuelson and De Jong put in very good performances especially the 1st 3. Kaka was okay, Monto & Balo were poor. Roma on the other hand should be thankful that the average and wasteful Bradley is not a 1st teamer. Dodo is a waste of space but they really should be converting on their numerous chances. DDR should be urged to go forward more often, he could no worse than Bradley. The ref was poor
on the 17th December, 2013 at 2:21pm
Great game yesterday and a few observations, I was pleasantly surprised to see Zapata, Muntari, Emmanuelson and De Jong put in very good performances especially the 1st 3. Kaka was okay, Monto & Balo were poor. Roma on the other hand should be thankful that the average and wasteful Bradley is not a 1st teamer. Dodo is a waste of space but they really should be converting on their numerous chances. DDR should be urged to go forward more often, he could no worse than Bradley. The ref was poor
on the 17th December, 2013 at 2:21pm

Post new comment

Your email address is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
If you have your own website, enter its address here.
Maximum 500 characters.
CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Image CAPTCHA
Enter the characters shown in the image.
Your responses will be moderated, and sometimes edited, by Football Italia before appearing on the site. Please keep your comments clean and try to keep them relevant to the blog above. We reserve the right to reject views that we deem unsuitable for publication.