Lyon 0-1 Juventus: 6 Things We Learned
Juventus took a step closer to a place in their own final with a 1-0 victory in the quarter-final of the Europa League at Lyon.
The Bianconeri edged a tight encounter at the Stade de Gerland with a late Leonardo Bonucci goal to ensure they have one foot in the semi-finals with the second leg to come at home.
It is worth emphasising that Juventus are not quite excited about winning this competition just yet, but with the opportunity to pick up the trophy in the Juventus Stadium, and once they reach the next round, they will almost be able to touch it.
That moment is not far away after Thursday's victory. Here are six things we learned from it.
Carlos Tevez's European Woes May Begin to Become a Concern for Conte
Carlos Tevez had a miserable evening in Lyon, failing to score and being forced off with injury in the second half.
The Argentine has now gone 24 matches in European competitions without a goal—a run that stretches back to 2009.
That year, Carlitos scored in a 2-2 draw with Porto for Manchester United, but almost five years have passed, which must concern Antonio Conte.
Given that Conte's ultimate goal now is to break through in Europe, after a probable third successive scudetto, the necessity for a striker who is capable of scoring in the big midweek games will become paramount.
Tevez has been a great success in Turin thus far, so the trust in the former Manchester City striker will remain for now, but with a likely semi-final to come, the 30-year-old will need to start producing soon.
Exhaustion May Be an Issue for Conte
Juventus appear to be treading water as the season comes to a close.
They have struggled somewhat in recent weeks, needing a moment of genius from Andrea Pirlo on more than one occasion to decide matches.
The Bianconeri couldn't cope with the intensity of Napoli last weekend and appeared to hand the initiative to Lyon on occasion during Thursday's game.
Injuries to Angelo Ogbonna and Andrea Barzagli have meant that Conte has been unable to rotate the back three in recent weeks.
The inclusion of Mauricio Isla from the start on either flank recently has not been a great success, instead disrupting the flow of the side's wing play.
While Tevez has been in sparkling form, he has not been supported by any of his strike partners to the extent that Conte would have hoped.
Conte may need to take a risk in the next few games by widely rotating the side, potentially dropping points and allowing Roma to gain encouragement that the title race is not over yet.
But with two intense semi-final matches and a final in the Europa League possibly to come, Juventus will need to be firing on all cylinders and have plenty left in the tank.
Osvaldo Is at Risk of Missing the World Cup and Not Earning a Permanent Move
10 - Pablo Daniel Osvaldo had 10 touches in the first half, fewer than any other player. Lost. #OLJuve— OptaPaolo (@OptaPaolo) April 3, 2014
Dani Osvaldo's form is worrying.
The Azzurri international has flopped since moving on loan to Juventus from Southampton.
Aside from two goals in two matches against Trabzonspor, the 28-year-old has not scored in the other nine appearances.
The former Roma striker may now be worried about missing out on Cesare Prandelli's Italy squad, with the fine form of Ciro Immobile, Mattia Destro and Antonio Cassano all pushing for a place alongside the likes of Mario Balotelli, Alberto Gilardino and Giuseppe Rossi, provided he is fit.
Not only that, but unless Osvaldo's form makes a turn for the better, the Old Lady may not be prepared to sanction a permanent move for the player.
Juve's Midfield Needs Freshening Up
Juve's midfielders are all in the midst of a dip in form.
Outside of Andrea Pirlo's sublime free-kicks, "The Maestro," Paul Pogba, Arturo Vidal and Claudio Marchisio are badly lacking inspiration lately.
The system may need tweaking in order to freshen up the roles of these exceptional midfielders, whose roles have grown somewhat stale.
Conte has found it difficult to appease Marchisio's need for games due to the superiority of the other three, but a move toward a diamond, at least on the odd occasion, could reinvigorate this marvellous quartet.
Conte Still Undecided on His Favoured Striker Partnership
Carlos Tevez is Antonio Conte's No. 1 striker.
But the second choice has been and remains unclear.
For a while it was Fernando Llorente, but the Spaniard has gone off the boil, while Dani Osvaldo's form has not been quite what Conte had hoped for.
Mirko Vucinic is returning from his latest injury, and Conte appears content to reintegrate him into the squad after he failed to earn a move away in January.
Conte also seems keen to help Sebastian Giovinco become a success in Turin, after two largely frustrating years since rejoining the Old Lady from Parma.
It is probably fair to say Fabio Quagliarella remains the only striker who is out of contention for a start.
Conte has somewhat caused this problem with his reluctance to allow the board to sell any of his strikers.
With six strikers competing for a maximum of two places, Conte is unable to juggle this selection dilemma and appease everybody.
It is a lesson he will hopefully learn from moving forward, and with a better equilibrium, the strikers may be in a better period of form at the right moments.
Juve Must Now Turn Attention to Finishing the Title Race
Juve are for all intents and purposes into the semi-finals.
A quick look at the schedule will show that the Bianconeri have three league matches before the first leg of the semi-finals.
With Roma back to their best, it is important not to give the Giallorossi any hope that they can get back in the title race. The gap is currently eight points, with seven matches left.
With the pressure largely off the second leg against Lyon, Juve have an opportunity to resume their dominance in Serie A.