The second week of a busy month of matches saw Juventus face two very different challenges. A home game with Livorno with a large number of injuries would give fans a first look at a number of reserve players. This was followed by Serie A's first midweek round and a difficult trip to Genoa.
The Livorno game saw Juve eager to both keep hold of their 100 percent record and restore confidence following the previous week's Champions League draw with Bordeaux. They would have to cope without Del Piero, Diego, Cannavaro, Tiago, and Melo, meaning a rotation of the squad was unavoidable.
This disrupted Juventus early on, with the Amaranto having a great chance four minutes in. Lucarelli's wayward shot turned into an assist for Francesco Tavano, but Gigi Buffon came to the rescue—it wouldn't be the last time in a busy game for the back-to-form number one. Soon after he misjudged a throogh ball and was dispossessed by Tavano, but the angle was too narrow to curl it in.
At the other end, Camoranesi narrowly missed from the edge of the area, before his cross was met by Vincenzo Iaquinta's towering header six yards to open the scoring. Livorno pressed on and Buffon claw a Candreva shot out from under the bar. Closer still was Pulzetti's cross over the head of an unmarked Tavano in the middle, then Candreva was just wide with a powerful shot. The Juventus goalkeeper was in outstanding form, he look comfortable and assured, very much back to his best.
Trezeguet shot just over with a highlight reel volley, but Claudio Marchisio doubled Juve's lead with a wonderful goal. The in-form midfielder's run was perfectly timed, meeting Camoranesi's through ball for a delightful chip over the goalkeeper. Livorno again tested Buffon, Candreva's slide-rule pass to Lucarelli put the striker clear through on goal, but the keeper rushed out, blocking the shot with his knee to deflect the ball over the bar. From the corner he made another crucial save on Diniz.
Paolo De Ceglie replaced Giovinco at halftime, moving Camoranesi to the trequartista role —more on that shortly. Trezeguet again came so close to a goal on 62 minutes, his acrobatic volley smacking the outside of the near post. Not to be outdone, Buffon consolidated his man of the match performance with a point-blank save from Danilevicius' snapshot, repeating the feat after Candreva rifled in another good effort.
It was an efficient performance from Juve, always seemingly out of reach. They really stopped playing at halftime, rather than press their advantage, an indicator of the busy spell they are in. The only real causes for concern were the ineffectiveness of Giovinco in the trequartista role, and the way Livorno's wide-men had so much time and space. With Bayern Munich to come, the latter maybe the most pressing issue for Ferrara.
On to Thursday night's game in Genoa then, where Juve grabbed the opening goal as early as the sixth minute. Iaquinta continued his great form, drilling a shot into the bottom corner from the edge of the area. It capped a great move which started with Marchisio's run and cross down the left, Camoranesi stepping over the ball, letting it run to Iaquinta who made no mistake.
In stark contrast, Amauri continued to struggle in front of goal throughout. The Brazilian striker has not scored in his last 16 games, and it showed with two first half misses after great crosses from Grosso. Mesto's 31st-minute equaliser showed the Brazilian how its done, leaping to meet a Sculli cross and head firmly beyond the reach of Buffon. Picking the ball from the net was about the only action he saw in a poor first half.
Juve commanded the second half immediately. Marchisio's ball over the top was perfect, Iaquinta had just Amelia to beat, but his poor control let the keeper close enough to put off the striker and his shot was deflected wide for a corner. Buffon finally made his first save of the game in the 71st minute when Sculli's dipping shot needed help over the bar.
Moments after Iaquinta had a goal correctly ruled out for offside, Genoa seized the lead, very much against the run of play. Hernan Crespo may be slowing down, but hisaerial prowess is still there for all to see and he headed powerfully past Buffon at the near post following a cross from Mesto.
Then Chiellini tapped in what he thought was an equaliser, but for the second time in the second half the assistant's flag rightly denied Juve. They finally got it right six minutes from time, as Trezeguet converted Chiellini's header across goal to capitalise on Genoa's inept defending of set pieces. Two all then, and a fair result.
Many fans will point to this being an improvement on last years defeat, and I would have to agree. If Juventus continue to pick up points like this then the title will be a much closer race this time round. Inter moved ominously into the top spot for the first time. The Old Lady must hope she has the legs to keep up!
No let up in the schedule, the week ahead sees Bologna and Bayern loom large. Diego and Del Piero are expected fit by the weekend, vital players who may just make the difference. Their creativity will be yet another weapon in Ferrara's armoury, lets hope he can make it work.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!