Juventus-Udinese: Cautious Optimism

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Juventus-Udinese: Cautious Optimism
Dino Panato/Getty Images
Leonardo Bonucci celebrating his goal

What else can be said about the 2009-2010 Juventus season? It was a long, painful season, full of disappointments and defeats. All the problems that the team had last year were personified in one game, the 3-0 thrashing delivered to Juve by Udinese, and so going into this game the Juventus squad must have been yearning to redeem their team's honor.

Well, redeem their honor they certainly did. Juventus ran like a well oiled machine today, every player did their job well, and they all linked up together. All the lessons that the players had been learning over the past few games have come together, and now (hopefully) we have a fully formed Juve squad, as opposed to the rough draft version that showed up for the first two games.

In fact, Juve has been getting better every game, they were disappointing against Bari, inconsistent against Sampdoria, and last Thursday they played well against Lech Poznan in the Europa League, tying 3-3 thanks to a last minute goal from the Polish side. But today, everything went together, the defense held up, the midfield dominated the game and created chances, the wingers played fantastically and the strikers were clinical.

The back four played well, Motta and Bonucci were definitely the Defensive All-Stars of the day, Grygera played alright when you consider that he was playing out of position, but Chiellini did fail to live up to what was expected. That being said, Giorgio still had a fine game.

Claudio Marchisio is finding his form, and he (much like the team) has gotten better each game. He was everywhere today, creating plenty of chances for the strikers and winger, scoring a goal and managing to set up a nice goal for Iaquinta.

Claudio's midfield compatriot Felipe Melo rebounded very well from his lackluster performance in Thursday's European match. He carried out all of his defensive duties fabulously and aggressively, earning a yellow card in the process. Who knows, if Felipe Melo plays like this every game, maybe he can be forgiven for his actions towards Juventus supporters after the defeat at Craven Cottage last year.

Now, if the midfield was good, then the wingers were amazing. Simone Pepe erased any worries that Luigi Delneri might have had about playing Zydnek Grygera out of place, Pepe helped out on the defensive front very well, and he was no slouch on the attack either.

But the man of the match has to be Milos Krasic, he played superbly for all 90 minutes, testing the goalkeeper within the first five minutes with a nicely aimed shot that was barely deflected. He was all over Udinese's defense, and caused them a lot of trouble, with two assists. Krasic is really impressing with his recent form, and he's certainly on the way to justifying his $20 million price tag.

And now, the strikers. The starting two were Quagliarella and Del Piero. Both were very dangerous for the Udinese defense. Quagliarella scored on a beauty of a shot, he certainly showed that he's quite the acrobat, and Del Piero played with a lot of intensity, especially during the first half.

Vincenzo Iaquinta came on as a substitute and scored as well. It seems that Iaquinta is almost 100% fit, and so soon Juventus will have another top-choice striker available.

But, this victory was notable for reasons other then the fact that it was Juve's first in the Serie A this season. Perhaps it is because Udinese so handily defeated Juve last season, but this last victory seems to symbolize a rebirth for Juventus. The team has been playing well lately, and in today's game it all finally clicked. Perhaps we have finally put last season behind us, and maybe, just maybe, we could mount a serious challenge for the Scudetto. Who knows?

Of course, our chances at a Series A title will certainly depend on the outcome of the upcoming Derby d'Italia, now only two weeks away.

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