Back in June, during the World Cup, Maicon scored a very unique goal against North Korea. You see, he attempted to play a cross to the other side of the field, but he didn't get the ball quite where he wanted, no, he got it somewhere better. He scored. You may remember it, I surely do. I figured that I would not see a goal like that one for a long, long time. I was wrong.
On Saturday Juan Manuel Vargas scored a very similar goal, firing a cross into the box that was soon deflected into goal by the head of Marco Motta. Such a stroke of bad luck was rather symbolic of Juve's season so far, I thought. Because this season I've been telling myself that had this one event gone differently, or had this one player not missed that one game, Juventus would be definitively known as the best team in Italy.
The fact that Juventus is sitting in third place, six points behind league leaders Milan, and only three behind second-place Lazio, is not because they're the third best team in Italy. They're not, I truly believe they are the best team in Serie A, regardless of standings, this team is packed with talent. Maybe not consistency, but Delneri's getting them there. It's because they've had bad luck when it comes to injuries and little things like fouls or having a ball called as a goal kick as opposed to a corner kick.
I do believe that this Juventus team can and will win the Serie A. They beat Milan, they tied Inter (who might refute my point that Juve is the most talented team in the league, but have no shot at success with Rafa Benitez holding the reins) and they've displayed real fighting spirit and grit. Unlike other post-Calciopoli editions of the Bianconeri, this year's team does not go down easily.
Case in point: this past game. They gave up a fluke goal within the first five minutes, meaning they had to fight and claw for 85 more minutes when Fiorentina could sit back and get as many men as possible behind the ball. By the way, Fiorentina did a great job of shutting down Juve, much credit is due to Vargas, and left-back Manuel Pasqual, who did a great job of keeping Krasic occupied, shutting up Juve's greatest threat.
Despite the challenge that Fiorentina put forward with their defense, and with their threatening counterattacks, and despite the fact that shot after shot was either barely deflected off of the goal posts or saved by Artur Boruc, Juventus didn't give up. The 26 shots they had against Fiorentina are a testament to their persistence.
Juventus didn't win for a reason. The forwards really failed to trouble Fiorentina. Quagliarella, Del Piero (and his eventual substitute Iaquinta) all were disappointing. They desperately needed to create goals, since Krasic was canceled out by some great defending.
It took a lovely free kick from Simone Pepe, one of almost Delpierian proportions, to equalize the game for Juve. From there, well, they kept making chances to get ahead, but they couldn't finish.