Juventus: Third Win Is a Charm, and Now They Lay Six Points Out of Fourth Place
Juventus has done it. They've won three games in a row for the first time in nineteen months. It started off with the team fighting out for a 2-1 win against Brescia, with Del Piero the hero. After a break for international friendlies and qualification matches, Juventus stuck it to Roma, winning 2-0 and doing much to get the monkey of crisis off their backs.
With two straight wins in the bag, Juventus welcomed Genoa to the Stadio Olimpico, hoping they had enough to pull out a victory.
The game started off pretty badly for Juve: their midfield struggled with what I like to call "the jitters" for the first fifteen minutes. They were error prone with their passes— oftentimes a player would pass to another but the ball would fall just short and get picked off by a Genoa player. The midfielders' slow start prevented the Juventus attack from gaining traction, so Genoa was dictating a majority of the play at the beginning.
Despite that, the midfield was not the main issue during the start of the game. They may not have created attacking moves very well, but that doesn't compare to the error that most fans were concerned with. In perhaps the most surprising own goal I've ever witnessed, the ball deflected off the side of Leonardo Bonucci's foot, and flew into the goal.
At first, the announcer who had been calling the game thought Motta was at fault, and my immediate reaction to this was more so dark humor than frustrated fan. I mean, if someone was going to score an own goal and I had to pick, I would have picked Motta. There is no other play on the Juventus squad whose reputation should be tarnished with an own goal, but with Motta, it fits.
Marco Motta was probably the worst Juventus player on the field on Sunday. His poor play (keeping with his tradition of playing poorly) enabled Genoa attacker Floro Flores, though Flores' own ability certainly helped him here, to equalize in the 57th minute.
By the way, Floro Flores is a great name. Granted, his name is Antonio Floro Flores, but god, Floro Flores. That man could sponsor anything. "Hi my name is Floro Flores, and I'm here to tell you about Tampax Sport..." I mean, I would buy it. The name takes perhaps the greatest syllable in the English language (flo) added with the power of an oro (thank you, Spanish) and then adds in another flo. The man's got a fantastic name, and he's a fine soccer player as well.
Now, a 2-1 lead is something I would never have expected Juventus to come back from, at least not judging by their recent form, but they pulled through. Simone Pepe is to thank for the first goal, Pepe of course being one of the silent heroes of this team. He's not flashy, and he doesn't hog the ball (though he did fall victim to Krasic, the Serbian God of Ballhogging, last week against Roma), he simply does his job.
The equalizer came from, of course, the Golden Boy. Matri continued his excellent form and scored on a beautiful goal. His footwork in the box was sublime, and was perhaps my favorite moment of the game. Later on, the other striker Beppe Marrotta bought in January, Luca Toni, scored the game winner. It was a great moment. The stalemate had been lifted, and Juventus was on their way to winning their third game in a row, assuming they could keep the lead.
Spoiler alert: They kept the lead. They finished off the game with a win, thanks to the aforementioned players, and the best back up goalie in the world, Marco Storari.
Rivals Fiorentina are up next, and a game with fourth place Lazio looms ahead. If Juventus are to finish fourth, and I am worried that recent success may lead to complacency, they must finish strongly. Beat Lazio, and the rest of the schedule isn't that bad. They have a chance at the Champions League, if they can keep the fighting spirit they've recaptured recently.
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