Juventus: This Week in Black and White
Last weekend saw the start of an 18 day period in which Juventus will play six games, meaning the club and her fans will see the true strength and depth of this new squad. Injuries, suspensions and the need to rotate players will see most players on the pitch, and coach Ciro Ferrara will need to prove capable of sustaining the excellent start over a difficult run of games.
The first challenge saw the Bianconeri travel to Rome again to face a Lazio side that also carried a 100 percent record into the game and while it was not a vintage Juventus performance, it was enough to secure three points. Juventus struggled in the first half and were forced to defend for the most part as the capital club continually threatened. Lazio might have won were it not for Gianluigi Buffon who yet again managed to produce a valuable performance, making numerous saves.
There was panic for Juve fans late in the first half. First, Diego was stretchered off with an injury which has seen him sidelined for a week, meaning he will be unavailable for the Champions League clash with Bordeaux. This was followed by controversy when Lazio were awarded a free kick, the ball bounced around the box and went over the line in the midst of all the commotion. However the officials adjudged Julio Cruz had pushed Nicola Legrottaglie and the goal was disallowed, leaving Lazio furious.
In the second half Giovinco was entrusted with Diego's role and despite his effort, Diego was clearly missed. But Ferrara's team showed a different quality, grinding out a result without playing well, Martin Caceres marked his debut in stylish fashion struck a low ball into the back of the net to open the scoring. Lazio threw in extra firepower in search of an equaliser but Juventus were determined to score another. And in their final push of stoppage time, Trezeguet slotted in the second for the Old Lady and followed it with a huge outburst of emotion, the joy at being back plain for all to see. Game over, two-nil.
The next piece of news was a remarkably unprofessional outburst from Sebastian Giovinco. He played well against Lazio, and it was credit to him and Juve that he was thrown on, instead of a more defensive option. He then commented: “If I was foreign, say from Brazil or Argentina, I’m sure I would play more often. Sometimes I 'regret' the fact I'm Italian.” With those words, most fans have gone from admiring the young lad to feeling disappointed with the starlet, an amazing outburst considering he knows he is Diego's back-up and is set for a run in the team.
This led us to Tuesday night's Champions League game at home to Bordeaux. Already missing Del Piero and Diego, Ferrara also had to do without Chiellini, suspended after his red card against Chelsea last season. The match was cagey, with the away side content to sit in and hit on the counter, Juve looked rusty and short of ideas, Giovinco unable to link the formation together. Playing behind Amauri and Iaquinta, he failed to spark the offense, the lack of creativity glaring in a dull first half.
There was more on offer after the break. Wendel had a 20-yard shot blocked by Nicola Legrottaglie, and then both sides had their best chance yet in quick succession. Buffon saved from Gourcuff with his feet, then Iaquinta latched onto a quickly taken free kick to round Carrasso but failed to get the shot on target from an acute angle.
Carrasso was left injured in the process, replaced by veteran Ulrich Rame, who soon had to turn wide a Fabio Grosso free-kick as Juve enjoyed their best spell. Fabio Cannavaro spotted leftback Benoit Tremoulinas out of position to release Iaquinta in the channel and the Juve striker beat Rame at his near post with a first-time strike from just inside the box.
Bordeaux made a positive response with Fernando cutting in from the right before seeing a fierce 20-yard drive parried by Buffon. That save proved vital as Fernando flicked on Gourcuff's free kick from the right and Plasil turned the ball in at the back post to equalise.
Juve had a great chance to take all three points late on as Claudio Marchisio turned Martin Caceres' left-wing cross against the bar but that would have been harsh on Bordeaux, who showed just how tough this group will be.
Ahead of this weekend's clash with Livorno, the injuries continue to mount for Ferrara, with Cannavaro out for two weeks with a thigh injury. Melo and Tiago both look doubtful for Saturday nights game, meaning yet another re-shuffle for the side as they look to continue a bright start. All eyes will be on the coach as he looks to prove he can compete on all fronts.
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