Juventus vs. Pescara: 6 Things We Learned
But the weekend's action in the league raised more questions for Juve than it answered, and though they eventually laboured for the win, they were far from convincing.
So what were the main talking points?
Serie A Is All But Wrapped Up
Juventus' lead at the top of Serie A is now a seemingly unassailable one.
Of their remaining games, perhaps only next week's tie with Lazio can be considered a difficult one.
“We just wanted the win and we achieved it. This was certainly an important result for our journey in Serie A,” said Paul Pogba after the game.
Their closest rivals, Napoli, have a much harder run in to the end of the season and would now need a miracle to overturn the Bianconeri, because Walter Mazzarri's men must face Milan, Inter and Roma in the coming weeks.
Juve's attention will now be totally focused on the mother of all comebacks against Bayern Munich.
“We have got to think positive," said Pogba. "We will be ready against Bayern and certainly believe we can turn this around.”
If Pescara Can Score, so Can Bayern
Pescara are dead last in Serie A, and unlike last year under Zdenek Zeman in the second division, they've really struggled for goals.
So if even they can score against Juventus in Turin, German giants Bayern Munich will fancy their chances.
Guiseppe Rizzo's ridiculous challenge on Arturo Vidal changed the game completely, as it was only the resultant penalty that allowed Juve to score their first.
Prior to the sending off, the game had been a completely one-way affair, but the Old Lady couldn't break the visitors, down despite laying on the pressure for almost all of the prior 78 minutes.
Once Rizzo was gone, Pescara had no chance, but Emmanuel Cascione's stunning consolation goal in the 83rd minute showed that Juve are anything but impregnable at the moment.
And with the strike force Bayern will bring to Turin, that should worry Antonio Conte.
Ivan Pelizzoli Is Better Than His Career Suggests
How long ago do those Italy call-ups seem now? In 2003, Ivan Pelizzoli was one of the world's most exciting young keepers.
Then wearing a Roma shirt, not only was he among Serie A's best-paid players, he was in incredible form and looked destined for great things. In 2003-04, he conceded fewer goals than any other stopper on the peninsula and earned himself his debut in the Italy jersey.
Unfortunately, Pelizzoli couldn't consistently harness his undoubted potential, and a string of erratic performances saw him lose his starting spot in the capitol to a young Gianluca Curci. Since then, he's struggled to find a home, traveling to Italy's lower leagues and even to Russia for a spell.
Against Juve, we saw a vintage Pelizzoli. The keeper put in a man-of-the-match performance between the posts for the Delfini, and were it not for his heroics, it would have been an absolute rout.
Vucinic Will Be Happy Following a Successful Warm-Up
Mirko Vucinic looked a little off the pace against Pescara, but will have been happy to return to the Juve starting 11 and grew into the game as it progressed.
Certainly showed no signs of rust with his penalty, taking the spot kick confidently and opening the scoring for his side. After that goal, the Montenegro captain improved again and showed his class with a sublime second strike.
Both he and his manager will be very happy with the weekend's work, because Vucinic will be vital if Juve are going to overturn Bayern's two-goal lead.
Sebastian Giovinco's Injury Will Worry Juventus
Sebastian Giovinco's ability is something that divides opinion, but the Italian was certainly Juve's brightest player against Pescara before being substituted after an injury.
It had been feared that it was a serious, long-term injury for the forward, but the club have announced that the prognosis was more positive and that they'll continue to assess his situation in the coming days.
On their official site, a statement read:
After departing the clash with Pescara midway through the first half on a stretcher, Sebastian Giovinco underwent an MRI scan at Turin’s Fornaca clinic to assess the condition of his right knee. The tests, which rule out any serious injury, have revealed heavy bruising to the bone and medial collateral ligament. A strain of the striker’s femoral biceps tendon was also displayed. Giovinco’s condition will be monitored over the coming days.
Giovinco would certainly have been useful in the upcoming Champions League tie. His manager will be sweating on this one.
Pescara Shouldn't Dwell on the Loss—it Could Spur a Fight for Survival
Having been under the hammer against one of Europe's best teams, humble Pescara held on for almost 80 minutes.
So forget the result—it was a fine performance from the Delfini.
Yes, they're bottom of the league and yes, there's a mountain to climb if they want to stay in Serie A next season. But they're only six points from safety and have still to face a couple of their fellow relegation fighters.
There are difficult ties against Roma, Napoli, Milan and Fiorentina to come, but there's also the tantalising prospect of "six-pointers" against Siena and Genoa, both of whom are also in danger of the drop.
It'll be difficult, but if they can play like this for the rest of the season, it's not impossible.