Week One in Serie A saw Chievo travel to Juventus, where new coach Ciro Ferrara was looking to inspire his revamped squad to getting a good start following Inter's home draw with new boys Bari. Adamo Digby reviews the action from Turin's Olympico.
Juventus started this match with a number of selection problems. Ferrara decided not to risk his captain, Alessandro Del Piero, resting him from the squad to protect his bad back. Amauri partnered Iaquinta in attack, ahead of debutant Diego.
In goal, Buffon, protected by Grygera, Cannavaro, Chiellini, and Salihamizic, was selected ahead of Molinaro. Tiago was in midfield, flanked by Poulsen and Marchisio due to Sissoko's injury and Melo's suspension.
Juventus came flying out of the blocks, with Chiellini going close with a shot early on. Diego was at the heart of everything Juventus did going forward, and was assisted ably by the rehabilitated Tiago. The Portuguse looked assured in possession and determined to repay the faith shown in him by Ciro Ferrara.
After a number of fouls on Diego, a free kick swung in from the wing was met by Iaquinta, who excellent header nestled in the far corner of the net, 1-0 Juve.
Pinzi and Pellisier went close for Chievo, before Iaquinta brought a great save from Sorrentino at the other end, after some excellent work down the right by Amauri. A good cross from Diego was then headed over by Chiellini.
The pace of the game dropped towards halftime, as both teams became eager for the whistle. Salihamizic picked up a knock in a challenge and was replaced by Paolo De Ceglie as the second half began.
Early on, the second half was much slower tempo than the first, as both teams searched for an advantage, before Pellisier went close. That seemed to stir Juventus back into action, Diego again driving them forward, playing in Amauri, who was unfortunate to see his attempt come off the post.
Diego was the next to come close, chesting down after some scrappy play, his volley rising just over the bar, much to the relief of the stranded Sorrentino. Another lull in play brought cries of "Pavel, Pavel Nedved, Nedved" from the bianconeri faithful. The man in the Czech's old No. 11 responded by blazing a shot way over the bar.
Primavera squad player Luca Marrone was then brought on for the impressive Tiago, in an amazing show of faith from rookie Juve coach Ferrara (Sebastian Giovinco and Martin Careces will hope to benefit from that faith in games to come). Juventus continued to work hard, pressing Chievo all over the pitch, perhaps trying to force an error, their best way of securing a second goal.
Camoranesi came on for Diego on 88 minutes. The diminutive Brazilian can be very happy with his debut; he was impressive, and full of the running and creativity sadly missing last term. The game was fizzling out by this point, a great cross from Luciano just evading Pellisier and providing a heart-stopping moment for the Juve defence.
Juventus held on. Chievo's stubborn effort will cause teams problems this season, but Juve always seemed to have a couple of gears left in reserve. Those will be needed in the coming weeks, but overall Ferrara's man can be pleased with their first weeks work in Serie A.
Ferrara himself will have learned plenty about his team today. His positives will be the clean sheet, his well-functioning midfield, and a seemingly faultless debut from Diego. The fullback issue now seems the biggest concern, with Grygera and Salihamizic failing to provide the width, an essential part of the new 4-3-1-2 formation.
So, with three points in the bag, it's onto the next game, where the Giallorossi will provide a much sterner test. Here's hoping Juventus have another good performance in the capital.
Buffon 6, Grygera 5.5, Cannavaro 6, Chiellini 6.5, Salihamizic 6 (sub 46 De Ceglie 6), Poulsen 6.5, Tiago 7 (sub 75 Marrone 5.5), Marchisio 6, Diego 7.5 (sub 88 Camoranesi), Amauri 7, Iaquinta 7.