Forza Matri: With Win Over Cagliari, Juventus Keeps Europa League Chase Alive
I had a wonderful dream Saturday.
I dreamed that Juventus had more than one effective striker, solid fullbacks and effective play on the wings.
Perhaps the most surreal thing about the dream was that Juventus accomplished all of those things in one game.
Luckily for me, it wasn't a dream, it was real life. Juve played very well and they recorded a 3-1 victory over Cagliari.
Going into the game, there were two things that piqued my interest. One, Alessandro Matri's return (after his very recent transfer) to his old team Cagliari and two, the return of Luca Toni.
This meant that Juventus would have two, as opposed to one (Del Piero) effective striker playing. Gone are the days of Del Piero and Amauri or Del Piero and a youth squad striker.
Now, Del Piero can be used as a super sub and occasional starter, a must more appropriate role for a player his age (not that his abilities have dropped, but he plays better when he doesn't have to start every game and play a full 90 minutes).
As the game started, something else surprised me. Giorgio Chiellini, a.k.a. one of the best center backs in the world, was playing as a left-back, a position which he has played before.
Chiellini had played competently as a full back before, so I was hopeful for this game.
In this case, Chiellini's odd attacking ability (for a defender) helped him greatly. As a full back in Delneri's 4-4-2, he was counted on to support the wingers, a crucial element of the team's attack.
Elsewhere in defense, Leonardo Bonucci (fresh off of a one-game suspension) and Andrea Barzagli held down the center. Both played well, especially Barzagli, who was certainly worth the pitiful amount Juventus paid for him.
Opposite from Chiellini was Frederik Sorenson, in right back. Sorenson's really got some potential, and he always shows flashes of future dominance, but for the time being, he still needs to get more experience as a player.
I hope Juventus will permanently sign him this offseason, as I really believe he's got a future as a top defender.
The midfield, per the usual, played well. Marchisio was, I thought, one of the better players on the night.
But, it was not the defense nor the midfield which really won the game for Juventus—it was Delneri's tactical ability.
After halftime, tied 1-1, he switched from a 4-4-2 to a 4-3-2-1, something which I certainly wasn't expecting. The back four was unchanged, but the midfield switched from the usual (Aquilani and Melo in the middle with Marchisio playing center left, but slotting to the wings to defend) to something new (Aquilani and Melo in the middle with Sissoko as a defensive midfielder), while the wingers were shelved all together with Del Piero playing as an attacking midfielder.
Luca Toni was also brought in, to replace Del Piero's striker spot. The strikers, I must mention, were a highlight of the game, especially in the second half.
New boy Alessandro Matri had already scored the first goal of the game, but he soon scored a second goal, putting Juve ahead. Later, Toni would head in his first goal as a Bianconeri.
The tactical switch made by Delneri was critical in achieving victory, and proves his ability as a coach. Hopefully, this will silence the recent calls for his removal.
Finally, the best moment of the game, for me, was when the ESPN3 announcer referred to Alessandro Matri as "handsome."
This was obviously the best way to describe Matri, and in no way was it out of context.
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