Serie A Recap: Juventus Score Late to Beat Bologna
Another week, another dramatic win for the Bianconeri.
In a game that should never have been a close affair, Juventus needed a goal from Paul Pogba in additional time to claim three points from their encounter with Bologna at a soaking wet Juventus Stadium.
In these next slides, we'll analyse the good and the bad from tonight's fixture and take a look ahead at the all-important game against Inter Milan.
Juventus Have an M-V-P-P Midfield
With Arturo Vidal suspended and an important fixture against Inter Milan coming up, Antonio Conte decided to give some key players a rest and play some of the backups.
Martin Cáceres played an excellent game and deserves a mention, but it was Paul Pogba who stole the show.
Starting for the suspended Vidal, Pogba played a fantastic game. He hit the upright in the first half on a stunning shot from outside the box and saw a goal disallowed for a push that was hardly there. He did an excellent job in defense, intercepting a ton of passes and using his big frame to regain possession of the ball, and he was excellent in the build up.
It was his perfect pass that found Emanuele Giaccherini, who only had to head it back to Fabio Quagliarella for the easy finish.
After seeing his heading goal disallowed in the first half, he got his revenge by scoring a goal in extra time that ultimately gave Juventus the three points.
Pogba arrived in Turin with great expectations, but nobody expected him to have such an impact this early. He seems to be improving with every minute he gets, and his development gives Conte the chance to rest Claudio Marchisio and Arturo Vidal. With Juventus seemingly playing every three days, that's not a bad thing.
De Ceglie Is Not Developing at All
Juventus pride themselves on their depth, but it is only natural to have a bit of a drop in performance when you sub out your starter for his backup.
That said, the Bianconeri got very little from their substitute wingers.
Mauricio Isla wasn't terrible, but he wasn't exactly great either. He contributed very little to the attack, as his crosses failed to hit the target all night.
He didn't have a great night, but he was nowhere near as bad as Paolo De Ceglie.
Look, I know a lot of fans still have high expectations for De Ceglie, but Conte brought in several wingers for a reason. De Ceglie is not a quality player, and I don't believe he'll ever be.
He had difficulties in transition all night and contributed next to nothing in possession. Defending a lead, he played a horrible ball back to the centre that was easily picked up by Saphir Taider and blasted home for the equaliser.
Coaches teach you never to play a ball like that when you're 10. If I did it at the age of 12, I got slapped in the back of the head by my dad.
De Ceglie is a nice player to have for depth and to give your starters a rest, but he's going to cost Juventus points sooner or later.
Juventus Need to Learn How to Close Games
This game was far too exciting.
Juventus started the game at a very high pace, clearly intending to blow Bologna out of the water and silence the critics that saw some kind of conspiracy in the team's win over Catania. Bologna couldn't keep up with the pace and was lucky not to concede before the break.
In the second half, Juventus again turned up the tempo and found the net after 54 minutes.
After the opener, the Bianconeri had several chances to put the game away but failed to do so. Instead of building, everyone seemed to be firing at the goal blindly in the hope to get their name on the score sheet. Juventus became nonchalant, and it resulted in an equaliser in the last 20 minutes of the game.
As a top team, you can't allow an inferior opponent to claw their way back into a game. We saw it against FC Nordsjælland, and we saw it again tonight.
Juventus got lucky to claim the three points tonight, but they should have never put themselves into that situation to begin with.
Nicklas Bendtner Confuses Me
After 45 minutes of play, I was ready to make a slide on how Nicklas Bendtner needs to shut it and play if he wants to claim a starting position.
During that first half, he looked every bit as sluggish and unprepared as he did against Catania.
Mind you, he still presented more of a danger than Alessandro Matri, but only barely. He was slow, often out of position, losing the ball left and right and generally unproductive.
In the second half, that all changed.
It actually looked like Bendtner had some kind of epiphany on the field. He suddenly started timing his runs a lot better, was able to hold on to the ball and started created chances.
He played a beautiful ball to Quagliarella, which should have been a goal, and followed it up by freeing up Isla on the wing within the same minute. He then produced a run past three opponents before he was brought down hard by a defender, who somehow got away with that.
He was lost during the final push, but that was mainly because Sebastian Giovinco and Mirko Vucinic claimed every single ball and refused to pass it once they did.
Maybe it was just a spur of the moment, or maybe Bendtner is getting better as he gets more minutes. I'm sure fans everywhere are hoping it's the latter.
So I Guess There's No Conspiracy After All
After last week's events at Catania, Juventus really have no right to complain about the referee.
I'm still going to.
After all the fuzz about how Juventus are favoured by the referees, it was clear that this man was going to make sure he would not grant the Bianconeri the benefit of doubt even once.
Bologna had already stated they would play Juventus aggressively, and they sure did. But while there's nothing wrong with playing the game hard, towards the end of the game the Bologna players were simply pushing the Juventini off the ball and tripping players, knowing full well they'd get away with it.
The referee, Andrea Romeo, did nothing to stop this.
He also had some problems with corner kicks. As in, he didn't like them.
Both teams could have just given up on corners altogether, as seemingly every corner kick ended in a foul committed by the attacking team. Even if a defender wrapped his arms around the attacker and pulled him down, it was still an offensive foul.
The disallowed goal by Pogba was ridiculous. The contact was very, very minimal and is something that happens over 9000 times per game.
Romeo's decisions were nowhere near as bad as the ones that were made against Catania, but it is worth mentioning that Juventus don't always benefit from the referees.
Inter Milan Will Be a Challenge
Inter Milan fell behind early against Sampdoria, but fought their way to a 3-2 win. Under Andrea Stramaccioni, the Nerazzurri are playing great football and have climbed all the way up to second place in the table, just four points below Juventus.
Inter will travel to Turin on Saturday in what will be a pivotal matchup in the Serie A title race.
They have a surprisingly strong back line with emerging stars Andrea Ranocchia and Juan Jesus and a lot of scoring potential with players like Antonio Cassano and Rodrigo Palacio.
Juventus will have to win the battle for the midfield and will need a strong performance from its back three in order to contain the Nerazzurri.
This game should be a great test for the Bianconeri, who will see Arturo Vidal return from serving a one-game suspension.