The one thing that Juventus has been doing consistently so far this season is playing inconsistent.
In just a three-day span, the Juve faithful saw two different sides to their beloved team. After a 5-1 thrashing of Sampdoria a week ago, the weekend saw Juve stunned by Napoli 3-2 after a second-half collapse.
Tuesday's Champions League match didn't bring a heavyweight, instead it brought Maccabi Haifia. The same Maccabi Haifa who are still looking for their first goal in Europe this year. And like every game before, the Israeli champions were shut out.
But it wasn't a classic Juve performance. It was the same scoreline as it was in Turin, 1-0, this time on a goal by Mauro Camoranesi.
The match started very slow with neither team really taking hold. Juve had the first chance of the game when Diego spun in a free kick, but much like the matchup in Turin two weeks ago, Maccabi keeper Nir Davidovitch would make the first of his numerous saves.
Diego again had a chance from a dead-ball opportunity but Davidovitch again denied the Brazilian playmaker from opening the scoring.
Maccabi struggled to get anything on goal as the first half went along. Juve started to control the ball more and more, but again, much like the matchup two weeks ago in Turin, nothing came of it. In fact, it was Maccabi who looked like they would take the lead midway through the first half if not for Juve keeper Gianluigi Buffon again proving why he is the best in the business.
Buffon's lone save of the first half was, like so many times this year, of the miraculous variety. It was a clear defensive blunder as Vladimir Dvalishvili knocked down the corner in point-blank range of the Juve goal. On his back, Buffon reached up and swatted the ball away after it had gone behind him.
Juve answered right back four minutes later. Amauri almost broke the deadlock after a charging run down the right flank, but like the other Bianconeri chances in the first half, it was Davidovitch making the key save.
Just when you thought Juve and Maccabi were going to go into their locker rooms with a 0-0, Mauro Camoranesi got the lone goal of the night. Martin Caceres, sporting a Zorro-like mask, received a ball over the top and sent in a low cross that found Camoranesi at the top of the box. The Italian international banged it into the top left corner of the net and stunned the crowd two minutes into stoppages.
The second half started much like the first, the only difference being Maccabi's increased possession time. Juve struggled to get any kind of offense going. But so did their opponents.
The second was a much more physical half than the first—just ask Diego. It seemed as though every time the tiny Brazilian got the ball, he was being fouled. It didn't stop him though. He kept attacking and being the player that the Juve offense went through.
In just a matter of minutes, it was Diego and Amauri combining for two scoring chances. The first came off of a free kick that found Amauri just barely offsides. The second saw the Brazilian striker whiz a shot wide after receiving a great through-ball from his countryman.
Diego himself almost scored after dribbling through what seemed like half the Maccabi defense and midfield. But like Amauri's chances just minutes earlier, it went just wide of the right post.
As the second half went on, Juve seemed to ease the pressure and pay more attention to sitting back, defending and keeping their lead instead of extending it. Maccabi came close to leveling the terms with 13 minutes to go when substitute Lior Rafaelov's cross missed both Shiomi Arbeitman and Mohammed Ghadir at the back post.
A touch would've been enough, but both players couldn't get even the slightest one onto the ball as it went over the line.
It was the last chance for the home side and from then on, neither team put anything on goal. The whistle sounded and even though it was far from pretty, Juve had captured three points with the 1-0 victory.
With Bordeaux booking their place in the knockout round, it's a battle between Bayern and Juve for the second spot. Luckily for the Turin giants, they now have a four-point cushion, sitting second in Group A.
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