Verona 2-2 Juventus: 6 Things We Learned

Jack Alexandros RathbornContributor IIIFebruary 9, 2014

Verona 2-2 Juventus: 6 Things We Learned

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    Felice Calabro'/Associated Press

    Juventus slipped up at Verona after leading 2-0, which proved to be a rare lapse of concentration and professionalism from the champions in a 2-2 draw on Sunday.

    A Carlos Tevez double had given the Bianconeri a comfortable lead, but Luca Toni gave Hellas some hope and the Old Lady failed to see out the game.

    Juanito Gomez stretched for a header, deep into stoppage time, and with Gianluigi Buffon already committed, the smallest of deflections allowed the ball to divert past the Azzurri No. 1.

    Wild scenes followed of celebrations, led by the manager Andrea Mandorlini, and with Roma being held by Lazio, perhaps Juve missed a chance to close the title race.

    Here are six things we learned.

Title Race Still Alive

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    Felice Calabro'/Associated Press

    Juve's lead at the top of the league is nine points, but Roma have a game in hand, so theoretically that gap could be cut to six points.

    With Roma also having the luxury of hosting their rivals at the Olimpico later in the season, Rudi Garcia will be suggesting to his players that the gap could be as little as three points.

    Obviously Roma would have to beat Parma when they replay their match that was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch last week, and with Roberto Donadoni's side currently in a decent spell of form, that will prove a tough ask.

    But with Juve still holding European commitments, Roma may find themselves still in with a chance as the season builds to a crescendo.

    Juve need to be mindful of the fact that if they allow the gap to decrease to three points or less going into their second meeting, the Giallorossi will have every chance of claiming the title late on in the season.

Carlos Tevez Still Top Dog in Attack

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    Felice Calabro'/Associated Press

    Carlos Tevez reaffirmed his position in the attacking hierarchy for Juventus.

    The Argentine scored a smart brace to take his tally for the season to 13 goals, a superb return in his debut campaign in Italy.

    With Fernando Llorente surge in form over the past couple of months, aligned with Tevez dropping off the pace somewhat recently and the signing of Pablo Osvaldo, the former City star's place was a little less secure than before.

    But Tevez proved how alive he is inside the penalty area, which is critical for a side like Juve who possess several sharp shooters from outside the area.

    His second goal was ruthless, gliding past the defender before driving the ball between the goalkeeper and the near post.

    Tevez will remain the cornerstone of this side's attack while Conte maintains the 3-5-2 system, whether he will be able to hold off Llorente and Osvaldo when Conte inevitably switches to the 4-3-3 is another question.

Romulo Filling the Void Left by Jorginho

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    Luca Bruno/Associated Press

    Romulo has taken his game up a notch since the departure of Jorginho in January.

    The Brazilian has stepped up indirectly, as Marco Donadel is the most central figure of the midfield.

    But Romulo is making up for the loss of creativity from Jorginho, with his consistent delivery from set-pieces in the channels, the former Fiorentina player chalked up two assists today.

    With a range of passing to help develop Verona's attack, as well as to flick a switch and bypass the midfield into the feet or chest of Luca Toni, the 26-year-old is entering the best period of form he has experienced in Italian football.

     

Mandorlini Is a Candidate for Manager of the Season

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    Felice Calabro'/Associated Press

    Andrea Mandorlini should be manager of the year in Serie A 2013/14.

    The Italian tactician has done a marvelous job for Hellas, who were promoted from Serie B last season.

    Not only will Verona stay up comfortably, but they are still in with a very good chance of making Europe for next season.

    To make matters tougher for Mandorlini, he has needed to cope without star player Jorginho since January, after the Brazilian was sold to Napoli.

    There are still some months left of the season, but it seems to me that Mandorlini is the leading candidate for manager of the season.

Osvaldo Adds a Different Dimension

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    Massimo Pinca/Associated Press

    Pablo Osvaldo made his debut for Juve against Verona and he immediately showed what he can do in a cameo performance.

    The Azzurri international brings diversity to Juve's attack, by operating inside the penalty area and remaining alive when the Bianconeri manoeuvre the ball from one side of the pitch to the other.

    Osvaldo has a wonderful first touch, but, unlike Tevez, he is strong enough to manipulate the position of the defender he is up against to release a team mate into a channel of space inside the penalty area.

    Osvaldo combined particularly well when the play was coming from the left, with Kwadwo Asamoah and Paul Pogba performing delicate passes into the striker's feet, before he would return the ball or work a yard of space and unleash a snap shot.

    Osvaldo also pulls away from his marker very quickly and with his willingness to take the shot on first time, he was able to strike a post.

    More is to come from the player on loan from Southampton, who will tend to play mostly from the start in the Europa League, but it is a promising start.

Asamoah's Role Slightly Altered by Pogba's Movement

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    Massimo Pinca/Associated Press

    Kwadwo Asamoah's role in the side has changed noticeably in recent weeks.

    The Ghanaian was a centre-midfield upon arriving in Turin, but Antonio Conte has transformed him into a left-midfielder, to pretty good effect.

    Despite holding down a place in the side, it is evident at times that Juve miss a more natural wide player on the left, in contrast to Stephan Lichtsteiner's complete game on the right.

    But in recent weeks Asamoah has been more willing to venture inside, often persuading Paul Pogba to drift to the wing and use his run as a decoy to facilitate a passage inside.

    The pair combined pretty well throughout the game against Verona and it could be a tactic that is continued over the coming weeks to make Juve's attack less dominant towards the right flank.