Prognosis: Champions League? With Derby D'Italia Victory Juventus Is In The Hunt
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There's an old expression saying that first impressions make everything. I, personally, tend to agree with said expression, but Alessandro Matri does not. In fact, he's recently devoted his life to proving it wrong.
Well, that's what I assume after the last two games. Matri's debut came and went without any real impact, which led to skeptics (like me) confirming their feeling that Matri wasn't Juventus material and was only there to fill the gaping striker hole.
Then, away against his old team Cagliari, he scored his first, and second, ever goals as a member of the Bianconeri in Juve's 3-1 win.
That game shut up the skeptics (like me) and showed us that Matri definitely had the class to play for Juve. If there was any doubt about that after the Cagliari game, then his performance in Sunday's victory over hated rivals Inter destroyed it.
Matri provided the only goal of the game, a header off of a Frederik Sorensen cross. While he benefited from the double coverage of Milos Krasic, he must be credited for besting Inter's backline (especially Andrea Ranocchia) and for not flubbing the easy header he made.
I mention the 'easy' header because another, probably even more talented striker, Samuel Eto'o, missed an almost wide open shot on the Juventus goal much later in the game. It was towards the end, and in the split second before Eto'o took the shot I (and probably many other people) was sure that Inter had equalized.
But then he took the shot. It went wide of the goal and hit the right post, before being cleared amidst a huge panic in the Juventus box. A few minutes later Eto'o would miss another opportunity when he failed to strike the ball cleanly.
While many haters will say that Eto'o's mistakes secured Juve's win (rather than a draw), they fail to recognize the great game that the Juventus defense had.
For the first time this season the play of the fullbacks was better than the play of the centerbacks. Although Sorensen did have some jittery moments at the beginning of the game, he (somewhat) quickly settled down and did a fantastic job of neutralizing Eto'o, one of the best strikers in the world. The young Dane, at only eighteen years of age, deserves much recommendation for besting a truly great striker.
On the other end Giorgio Chiellini, continuing his cameo as a left-back, went through a real dog fight with Maicon. Thanks to the defensive talent of Giorgio, Maicon was left frustrated at the end of the game, unable to break through and make a difference for Inter.
I must note that I keep noticing Bonucci making occasional bad decisions. I peg this down as inexperience, and the fact that he isn't too conscious of the referee's eyes. He's starting to make a habit out of getting frustrated and then doing something stupid, like fouling another player. So far he hasn't found himself in trouble because of it, but I fear that it might start to bite him. On Sunday he, after losing his mark, clearly shoved the other player (a member of the Inter attacking corps, but who exactly I cannot remember) and luckily for Leonardo the referee did not see.
Those watching at home did though, as he was in the center of the picture.
Having said that, he's still a fantastic defender, and his defensive partnership with Chiellini is one of the best in the world.
Elsewhere, Milos Krasic had a tough game. Not because he played badly, but rather he got some tough breaks. He was double covered, so he couldn't really have any notable attacking moments though this did help the rest of the team.
Also, he missed a foul call from the referee because his reputation as a diver still haunts him. I didn't get too upset about the call (or lack thereof) by the ref, as he had also hadn't called another blatant foul thirty seconds earlier. That foul was by a Juventus player and had a free kick been awarded Inter would have had a great opportunity to score.
Up top, the combination of Matri and Toni again bonded excellently. I mentioned Matri earlier, but his partner Toni played fantastically and helped every other Juve player on the field before later getting subbed off for the returning Vincenzo Iaquinta.
By the way, was anyone else disappointed about the lack of a certain Juventus legend? I know Delp was getting some much deserved rest, but I would have liked to have seen him in action for a little bit against Juve's most hated rival.
Maybe next year Alessandro.
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