Juventus vs. FC Copenhagen: 6 Things We Learned
Juventus hosted Copenhagen in the Champions League on Wednesday with the opportunity to take one step closer to the knockout stages of the competition.
The Bianconeri now know exactly what must be done in order for them to progress out of Group B.
With Galatasaray awaiting them in Matchday 6, their season hinges on one game.
After taking the lead through an Arturo Vidal penalty, dispatched in emphatic fashion, we learned the following things.
Llorente Fast Becoming the Perfect Fit Next to Tevez
Fernando Llorente continues to impress in a Juventus shirt.
The Spaniard is now adapting to his strike partner's characteristics and enhancing Carlos Tevez's game as well as his own as a result.
Llorente is starting to hold the ball up and look to combine with Tevez, feeding the Argentine with silky touches in and around the penalty area.
Equally adept at linking with Tevez with feet, head or chest, Llorente is a joy to play with.
Llorente will be encouraged by this blossoming partnership and look to improve even more over the coming weeks.
Vidal Is the Best Central Midfielder in Europe
Arturo Vidal put in a signature performance when it mattered most.
The Chilean hauled Juve to a crucial victory with a hat-trick that included two thoroughly emphatic penalties and a superb, looping header.
Vidal's all-action style allows him to contribute on both a defensive and attacking front, with his versatility allowing him to saunter all over the pitch.
Vidal is almost certainly the most complete midfielder, but his stunning performances and the vast number of qualities he brings to a side surely make him the best on form in European football.
Vidal has 10 goals in 19 matches in all competitions this season for Juventus, a sensational record for a midfielder that rivals Frank Lampard as one of the most prolific central midfielders around.
Juve will hope that the 26-year-old can maintain this stunning form in order to qualify for the knockout phase of the tournament and beyond, as the Old Lady will fancy her chances of beating anybody over two legs when Vidal is in this stunning form.
Juventus Are Favourites to Qualify Ahead of Galatasaray for the Last 16
Juventus are now in a position where they can expect to qualify for the knockout stage of the Champions League.
With a win against FC Copenhagen, the Bianconeri have a two-point gap over third-placed Galatasaray, who will host the Italians in the final match of the group.
So Antonio Conte's men will know that a draw in Turkey will be enough to take them through.
After the experience of travelling to Donetsk at that stage last season and securing a win, avoiding defeat in Istanbul will be something that the Old Lady will be confident of doing.
Roberto Mancini's side will go in search of victory, but with Juve's elite midfield, they can control the game and therefore silence the home crowd by taking the energy out of the game.
Juve Are Extra Deep at Centre-Back, Meaning 3-5-2 Is Still the First Choice
Juventus have tried several options at centre-back over the last couple of games with absences to the usual trio of centre-backs forcing Conte to utilise his squad.
Leonardo Bonucci, Andrea Barzagli and Giorgio Chiellini are the preferred starters, but Martin Caceres, Angelo Ogbonna and even Arturo Vidal are excellent options to ensure that Conte can maintain his preferred 3-5-2 formation.
Likewise, Caceres and Ogbonna are two fine defenders who provide excellent back-up and more defensive options as wing-backs, meaning that Conte is well covered defensively.
The defence is the foundation of this Juventus side and has been since Conte took the reigns, which looks to continue to be the case moving forward.
Pirlo's Performances Need to Pick Up to Earn That New Contract
Andrea Pirlo was far from poor, but the maestro was somewhat wasteful with his distribution on Wednesday in the Champions League.
Pirlo struggled for consistency in his range and tended to make life awkward for his teammates with the pace and accuracy of passing.
Pirlo's performances are not as crucial to the side due to other outstanding central midfielders, but if he is to earn a new contract, he needs to begin to showcase the Pirlo of old on a more consistent basis.
When Pirlo is able to orchestrate Juve's possession and build their attacks, they are a better side that is able to pick their moments.
Without Pirlo's ability to control matters, the game becomes more stretched and open, which could become a concern for Conte when he contemplates whether to back the Azzurri international to be the player to build the side around moving forward.
Buffon Must Command His Area Better at Set Pieces
Gianluigi Buffon is in the midst of a poor run of form, that is undeniable.
With Juve eyeing up Newcastle stopper Tim Krul, according to the Express, it suggests that the Azzurri No. 1's performances are becoming a concern for Conte.
Buffon is struggling to command his penalty area at set pieces and it was evident that Copenhagen were looking to target this weakness.
Even though Olof Mellberg's equaliser came from a throw, with the trajectory a little too shallow to expect the goalkeeper to come and claim, FCK used other set pieces to unsettle Buffon throughout the match.
Copenhagen tended not to rely on one strong centre-forward but instead crowded the space in front of Buffon, preventing him from getting a free run and jump at the ball.
With Buffon unsure of his ability to fend off aerial challenges from the opposition, it pushes Juve's defence even deeper and leaves them vulnerable to being dominated by better sides.
With Juve setting up so deep, better sides will be able to retrieve possession more regularly in the final third, which will subsequently lead to a more sustained series of attacks from the opposition.
If Buffon cannot rediscover his confidence, it may be his last season between the sticks for Juventus.