Carpi vs. Juventus: Winners and Losers from Serie A
Given the Sunday lunchtime kickoff, Juventus knew their final outing of 2015 offered a chance to put pressure on the sides above them in the Serie A table. The early start allowed the Bianconeri to add to their points tally before the other matches began, and they would do just that, notching a 3-2 win.
The result marked the club’s seventh consecutive league victory, a streak that has seen them return to contention and shrug off a dire start to the campaign. Massimiliano Allegri stressed the importance of the clash at his pre-match press conference:
It’s a must-win game for us. We approach it on the back of a run of important successes, but let’s not forget that we’ve dropped plenty of points against so-called "smaller" sides. We mustn’t put a foot wrong tomorrow.
The game before the Christmas break is a potential banana skin, along with the opening fixture of the season and the first match back in January. We do however possess a team full of responsible players and I’m certain we’ll approach the encounter in the correct fashion.
Indeed, there was reason for that caution after already seeing the side fail to beat the likes of Udinese, Chievo, Frosinone and Sassuolo this term. After a nervy opening that saw them fall behind, Allegri’s players would rally to ensure they left the Stadio Alberto Braglia with all three points and a testing win.
What follows is a look at some individual performances from this encounter focusing on the best and worst displays from this last game of the calendar year for both sides.
Winner: Marco Borriello (Carpi)
Knowing his side would see very few chances in this encounter, Marco Borriello made the most of his 15th-minute opening. Some sloppy passing in midfield allowed the striker to burst forward, and he made no mistake in slotting past visiting goalkeeper Gigi Buffon to find the bottom corner.
Loser: Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus)
Leonardo Bonucci has been in excellent form this year, but he allowed Borriello far too much time and space for that opening goal, standing off the former Juve striker rather than simply pressuring him out wide.
It was an uncharacteristic mistake, and Bonucci is fortunate that his team-mates quickly rallied to overcome that setback, particularly after he netted an inexplicable own goal right at the end of the game.
Winner: Mario Mandzukic (Juventus)
With Carpi in the lead, Juventus stepped up the pace. After both Juan Cuadrado then Paulo Dybala failed to hit the target, Mario Mandzukic followed up their efforts to get the Bianconeri back level.
Sami Khedira, Claudio Marchisio and Giorgio Chiellini all had chances to put Juve in front, but it would again be Mandzukic who delivered. The Croatian rose to meet Patrice Evra’s cross, and his powerful header left Carpi goalkeeper Vid Belec with no chance of preventing his side from falling behind.
Loser: The Serie A Top 3
The last thing the likes of Inter, Napoli and Fiorentina would have wanted to see was a return to form for Juventus, and watching them take care of Carpi before their matches began this weekend only put additional pressure on them.
Indeed, despite his Inter side sitting atop the standings, coach Roberto Mancini still included the Bianconeri among the favourites for the title (h/t Football Italia). Seeing them record yet another win will only add to that belief.
Winner: Massimiliano Allegri (Juventus)
With his counterpart at Inter beginning to feel the stress of a title battle, Juve boss Massimiliano Allegri can enjoy the winter break knowing many of his decisions have begun to pay off. His slow introduction of the likes of Daniele Rugani, Alex Sandro and Paulo Dybala is now bearing fruit, with all three now in good form.
In addition, Allegri’s choices in attack have proven smart, with Simone Zaza netting twice in midweek and Mandzukic doing the same on Sunday.