Coppa Italia Round of 16 – Empoli Beat Juve in Leg 1, but Iaquinta Keeps Bianconeri Alive

Coppa Italia Tim Cup 2007-08

For Juve, this was a “mini-Champions League” match, as the Bianconeri milieu had dubbed the Coppa Italia for the 2007-08 season. Unfortunately for Ranieri, the cup adventure was brought to a brutal halt Wednesday night, as his team conceded its 3rd defeat of the season in the first leg of the Round of 16. For a large part of this match the Bianconeri were only a pale copy of the solid and determined formation who’s been delighting Serie A fans in the Italian league so far, while Empoli (led by on-loan Bianconero Sebastian Giovinco), was well-organized through most of the 90 minutes. The only time the home team capitulated was when Iaquinta came on to score his late goal in the second half, a goal which is keeping Juventus alive.


Coppa Italia Round of 16 - Leg 1 - Empoli 2-1 Juventus

If you were to called tonight’s team a “Juventus nº2″ you would make Ranieri very mad, because the Bianconeri coach refused that terminology for his starting players. However, when big stars such as Buffon, Trezeguet, and Nedved aren’t even on the match sheet, it’s hard to find alternative tags to be quite honest. Someone who was there tonight was capitan Del Piero however, back to a starting role after his benching in the past two games. To assist him in the Juve front, youngster Raffaele Palladino, back to a striker’s role. In midfield, Ranieri proposed Marco Marchionni and Hasan Salihamidzic for wing support, with Tiago and ex-Empolese Sergio Almirón. On the other end, Alberto Malesani gave his on-loan Juve players (Claudio Marchisio and Sebastian Giovinco) the chance to lead up the assault on the old lady, by fielding the pair behind Ighli Vannucchi and the lone striker Nicola Pozzi.

The match took quite a long time to pick up, probably due to the cold temperature at the Stadio Castellani tonight. Del Piero did get on the scoreboard in minute 3, and that would have probably contributed to making this game exciting right from the start, but his goal didn’t count because play was stopped. Then a minute later some good passing between Giovinco and Pozzi set up the latter for a shot, wide.

Eventually 20 minutes in, the home team took the lead: Giovinco launched a pass from midfield for Antonini, eluding the guard of Marchionni and Almirón, the Empoli midfielder went for the cross and found Nicola Pozzi, whose header hit the crossbar and bounced over the line. Was it really over? The Juve player protested the call, but for the linesman there was little doubt and referee Farina let the goal stand. 1-0 Empoli. Knowing Juve, one would have expected the Bianconeri to set off an immediate reaction. However, this was a different ‘Old Lady’ team tonight, and the only real shot worth the highlights reel was a Nicola Legrottaglie effort from 20m. 1-0 Empoli at the break.

In the 2nd half, the Italian expression “piove sul bagnato” (litterally “it’s raining on a wet field”, which could be translated to “from bad to worse”) took perfect meaning very early in the half, because Empoli went 2 up: exploiting a fast counter-attack and Vannucchi’s well-weighted ball, Ignazio Abate (yet another U-21 Azzurrino) found the space to beat Emanuele Belardi for the second time. 2-0 Empoli, but even more rain for that metaphorical wet field was to come: in minute 61 the Bianconeri had to play the rest of the match 10 vs. 11, when Almirón earned 2 yellow cards in quick succession (foul on Giovinco, yellow, one word too many to the referee, ‘nother yellow).

At this point, Ranieri decided it was time to bring in the heavy artillery: out Palladino, in Iaquinta. Good move, because in minute 81 Del Piero skilfully took a fast free-kick for the ex-Udinese striker, who reduced Empoli’s lead. All in all, not too bad of a result for the Bianconeri, but they will have to do a lot better in Turin on January 16th.

 Empoli F.C.
[Match Highlights]
Juventus F.C.
GOALSCORERS: 20’ Pozzi (E), 51’ Abate (E), 81’ Iaquinta (J)
EMPOLI (4-3-2-1): Bassi – Raggi, Vanigli, Pratali, Antonini (76’ Marzoratti) – Abate, Marianini, Marchisio – Vannucchi, Giovinco (88’ Moro) – Pozzi (46’ Volpato). (bench: Balli, Rincon, Tosto, Saudati). Coach: Malesani.
JUVENTUS (4-4-2): Belardi – Birindelli, Legrottaglie, Criscito, Grygera (65’ Molinaro) – Marchionni (68’ Nocerino), Tiago, Almirón, Salihamidzic – Del Piero, Palladino (65’ Iaquinta). (bench: Vanstrattan, Boumsong, Pasquato, Esposito). Coach: Ranieri.

Posted in Coppa Italia, Empoli, Juventus |

Related Posts:

  • Juventus Fury at the Olimpico: 5 Goals to Get Past Empoli and Qualify for Quarters (Coppa Italia Round of 16 L2)
  • Coppa Italia – 3rd Round
  • Lazio 2-1 Juventus: Biancocelesti Turn It Around at the Olimpico (Coppa Italia Semi-Finals, First Leg)
  • Coppa Italia Semi-Finals – First Leg Action Favors Roma, Inter and Lazio Tie
  • Inter Milan Knock Out Juventus, Mario Balotelli: A Star is Born (Coppa Italia Quarter-Finals, Leg 2)
  • Comments are closed.