Juventus in December: Wins Against Catania, Lazio Keep Title Hopes Alive
The results earned during December serve as a perfect microcosm for Juve's entire season.
The month started with an underachieving draw in the snow at Lech Poznan, eliminating Juve from the Europa League.
But then, in league play, Juventus performed impressively against Catania and Lazio (who Juve dethroned, albeit for a short time, in second place on the table) before ending the month by grinding to a halt with draws against Manchester City (in a meaningless Europa League game) and Chievo Verona (the Flying Donkeys, as they are known.)
The game in Poland was an especially painful one, as the team was missing several first-team players (Quagliarella, Aquilani, etc), so it was not the 'full' Juve on display. Either way, the team still failed to win, drawing for a FIFTH consecutive time in Europa League play.
The draw meant that Juventus were mathematically eliminated and, with Juve, probably Italy's fourth Champions League spot.
Juventus still had one more Europa League game to play, at home against Manchester City, but more on that later.
With the exception of the European exit, December started off pretty well for Juventus. They beat Catania in a game that really showcased the team's inconsistency, at least in the first thirty minutes.
Juventus started off very slowly, playing at a perfect level of mediocrity with exceptionally atrocious performances coming from Fabio Grosso (of course) and Felipe Melo (who played below his usual form) until Simone Pepe opened up the scoring in the thirty fifth minute.
Catania quickly equalized, but Fabio Quagliarella would not let them win. Fabs scored twice and had a legitimate goal disqualified over referee error. The ball crossed the goal line, but the referee was unable to see it and called it off.
This incident is one of many in recent memory that show the need for goal-line technology.
A week later Juventus, who were in third place, hosted Lazio, who were in second place. The game was a true duel and very entertaining. Juventus started off very well with Il nuovo Capitano, Giorgio Chiellini, scoring off of a corner in the second minute.
Just minutes later Lazio equalized and the game stayed a tie for a long time.
Despite the score being equal, Juventus controlled the match. They had plenty of scoring chances, but didn't capitalize on any of them, before trailing off towards the end of the game.
It appeared as if the Lazio/Juventus train was on a one way stop to Drawsville, but a late Milos Krasic goal gave the win (and the long-term momentum, it would appear) to Juve.
Fresh off of their big win over Lazio, Juventus hosted Manchester City, the richest team in the universe. The game was totally meaningless for Juventus, as they had already lost their chance at moving on to the Europa League knockout round.
Juventus youngster Niccolò Giannetti scored the first goal, giving Juventus a chance at a first Europa League victory, but Man City striker Jo would score to make the score one all.
The game was a good chance for the young players to display their talents against a tough team and that's pretty much it. The game ended in a draw, meaning that every single one of Juve's Europa League Group games ended in a draw.
That's impressive, drawing in six games. That means that Juventus tied three different teams, twice for each team. It's a real shame that Juventus did so poorly in European competition, as a Europa League run would have been good for building both confidence and experience for the club.
Now in second place, Juve faced off with the Flying Donkeys of Chievo Verona.
This game should have been a victory that pushed them very close to first place Milan (who had lost to Roma the day before the Juve-Verona game), but Juventus did not win.
The game started off badly enough, with Verona winning a penalty shot. Storari, however, made a fantastic save to stop the penalty shot and keep the scores at zero.
An impressive overhead 'Playstation' shot from Quagliarella gave Juventus the lead in the thirty first minute and Juve held the lead for some time.
Verona were given an advantage in the fifty second minute, when Juve youngster Manuel Giandonato was given a red card. Down to ten men, Juventus still did not concede the lead, but they could only hold out for so long. A last minute goal from Sergio Pellissier would end the game in a one all draw.
It's a bit funny that just a week after Juventus won a game off of a last minute goal, they were forced into a draw from a last minute goal.
And so that is where Juventus stands. They are now in fourth place, two points behind Napoli and Lazio (who are tied for second in points, but Napoli has the superior goal differential and so they are in second) and five points behind league leaders AC Milan.
The January transfer window is a mere five days away and Juventus are sure to bring in some new faces to plug their holes.
Who will be brought in?
Only time will tell, but I'm hoping for some fullbacks.
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