Udinese vs. Juventus: 6 Things We Learned
There was a moment when the game seemed to stop.
Defender Giorgio Chiellini had the ball around 40 yards out, and no one moved. So he pushed forward and ran right into the box, right by everyone.
Juventus were already leading 2-0 at Udinese, and they would eventually win by the same score, but at that moment the home side looked like spectators, a team that no longer wanted to play at all this season.
They were like that most of the game. Udinese put a grand total of one shot on net. Gianluigi Buffon had to make the first and only save in the 87th minute. Antonio Di Natale grew more and more frustrated when he didn’t get the calls and his teammates failed to make the pass.
On the other side was a coach who never stopped yelling, who seemed to work harder on the sideline than any of his opponents on the field. Antonio Conte willed his team from the first minute, and Juventus scored early.
It was Sebastian Givonico who scored the winner, but it was Fernando Llorente who continues to fool us all. The 29-year-old Spaniard has 14 goals in Serie A this season and is the Juventino scoring down this last stretch:
Fernando Llorente: Has scored 3 goals in his last 2 Serie A apps after netting 3 in his previous 11 #Juve— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) April 14, 2014
Juventus won for the 28th time, an all-time high for the club in Serie A. To reach 100 points, they need 13 of the 15 available over the next five games. Meanwhile, Gianluigi Buffon quietly made his 483rd appearance, good for fourth in the club’s history. All the records are going down.
Here are six things we learned from their latest victory.
Antonio Conte Keeps Up the Tempo
When Llorente scored the second goal, Conte celebrated like they had won the title (they likely have). He jumped into the arms of his assistant, and the players on the bench congratulated each other, all of them on their feet.
Conte told reporters before the match that Juventus had won nothing yet, but they could still win the Scudetto in April. They’re getting ever closer.
Even into stoppage time, Conte did not sit down. He was moving around and pointing and giving instructions. You hear him after the match, and his voice is gone. Here was another game his team dominated, and yet he was never happy.
And once more: His players still respond. The intensity is all the same. All the yelling seems to work—even in this, the 48th game they played this year.
Finally: A Goal for Sebastian Giovinco
He last scored in Serie A in October against AC Milan, but since then Giovinco hasn't received all that much time to score again. He made his fourth league start on Monday, and with a curling strike he opened the scoring and ran to the away supporters, blowing them a kiss.
Many of the fans at Juventus Stadium have booed and whistled the 27-year-old striker this season. He has not enjoyed the greatest relationship with the fans, but his manager always believed in him.
“There aren’t enough people who praise Giovinco, who in my view has incredible quality,” Conte told reporters after the first match against Lyon. “He needs to believe in himself even more and realise he can make the difference at a big club like Juventus.”
Sometimes he is a bit grouchy, and on several clear and correct calls against him, he retaliated and argued with the referee.
He looks much better when he cuts by and fools defenders. He is still a bit too short to take on a cross—even though Paul Pogba supplied a few good ones.
But Giovinco did well in relief of Carlos Tevez, who has already played in 41 matches this term.
Fernando Llorente Back Scoring
Llorente went seven straight games in all competitions without scoring until earlier this month. Not many noticed—Juventus still won the majority of those games, even by a single goal. But the goals he’s scoring now are big and timely, just like the striker himself.
He came to Juventus as a free signing after spending a season marginalized at Bilbao. On Monday, he scrapped in the box for his 14th goal in Serie A. Tevez has just four goals more.
If Tevez spearheads the attack, Llorente reinforces it. He is Tevez's right-hand man but also a big reason why Juventus still maintain an eight-point lead over Roma in the standings.
He can play with almost anyone on the squad. He is a great partner in attack, and his second goal seemed to mean more to Conte than the first.
Udinese Lacking Any Inspiration
They really only came to life in the final few minutes, when Maurizio Domizzi finally forced a save out of Buffon, and Luis Muriel hit the post, but that was it. Udinese did not give Juventus much trouble.
Understandably, they are a young squad. Two teenagers started for them against Juventus. Bruno Fernandes frustrated Di Natale, and for large parts of the game the two just could not work together. The team hardly put together a meaningful set of passes.
Allan was the only one who put in any real effort. He tussled for the ball and reinforced the defence. He himself is just 23, as is Roberto Pereyra, a player Juventus admire, according to journalist Gianluca Di Marzio.
But Udinese have to keep these young players. Too often they sell them away.
Coach Francesco Guidolin Has Run His Course
Francesco Guidolin has managed this club for four seasons. Some of his decisions are strange. He kept Muriel, perhaps his most explosive player, on the bench. It was no coincidence that they played better once he came on.
This team does not look like it can give much more. Even so, Guidolin was satisfied with this performance.
“I liked my team. They played well, faced Juventus with courage, made a few mistakes, but you have to give credit to the stronger side,” he told Sky Sport Italia (h/t Football Italia). “I saw my team run for 90 minutes and try to the end, hitting the woodwork at the death.”
Those words were rather optimistic. It was a gutless performance, and Udinese did nothing until the end of the game to threaten the score.
He can’t take this team much further. Guidolin has lifted them to the Champions League, and they have played in the Europa League. They failed miserably in both competitions.
He told Sky Sport Italia (h/t Gianluca Di Marzio) after the match that he will discuss his future by the end of the season. He can’t take this club much further.
Simone Scuffet Still Has Time to Learn
Across the field was the goalkeeper the media believe Simone Scuffet can become.
Gianluigi Buffon is 36 and still playing for Italy, and he must have a few more years left to play. Scuffet is the 17-year-old phenomenon, another Italian goalkeeper whose name ends with a consonant.
But the gap in experience and quality is about as large as the gap in age.
He made a great leaping save on Giovinco almost immediately after the Italian scored the opener, but then scuffed a clearance and conceded the second goal. He lacks the strength on his feet. But there is still so much time to learn. Next season is the real test.