Post-elimination aftershock? Not for Juventus, no sir! The Zebras have turned into Bengal Tigers, landing straight on their feet after their European fall.
Their Saturday 4-1 win over Bologna demonstrated one thing and one thing only: depression only lasts for as long as you let it (in Juve’s case: 45 minutes). After a rocky first half ended with a one-goal deficit, Ranieri’s boys put on a spectacular turn-around, led by a Salihamdzic/Giovinco pair absolutely on fire and a reborn Capitan Del Piero.
A great way to kick their European Blues (and never-ending streak of injuries) goodbye and put the pressure back on Inter, now temporarily at -4 in the Serie A standings.
Tactically, Ranieri must have made an habit of putting up emergency line-ups this season, as yet again the Juve manager was faced with a full-blown injury situation. With Legrottaglie, Camoranesi, Marchionni, Nedved, Trezeguet, and Amauri all unavailable (and that’s just citing a few), the Bianconeri striking pair for the Bianconeri was formed by Del Piero-Iaquinta, supported on the wings by Salihamidzic and Giovinco. On the other end, Sinisa Mihajlovic offered us his usual thick-midfield 4-5-1 line-up, lead by Serie A topscorer Marco Di Vaio.
Juve’s post-elimination state of depression, as we stated, lasted only 45 minutes, but it was a first half in which Bologna capitalized big. Exploiting the fragile psychological state of their opponents (coupled with their many absentees), Mihajlovic’s boys put pressure on the wings through Valiani and Bombardini, all the while counting on the penetrating power of their main striker up front. It was precisely Di Vaio who in the 24th minute found a great through ball for Massimo Mutarelli, well able at eluding Molinaro’s offside trap and beating Buffon under his legs. 1-0 Bologna.
Juventus absorbed the shock but managed to get their heads out of the water, just 10 minutes before the break. Giovinco progressively stepped up to the plate, first finding a fortunate (or unlucky, depends where you stand) crossbar straight from the corner-kick, then following up with a long-range effort that Antonioli parried on the ground. The final highlights of the half belonged to Del Piero, successively missing a short-range shoulder/header and one of his trademarked free-kicks from good positions. The score at the half was 1-0 Bologna, much to the displeasure of Claudio Ranieri (who would immediately make changes by replacing Tiago for Christian Poulsen).
The music drastically changed in the second period however, and this right after kick-off. Not even 3 minutes had gone by when a Giovinco free-kick found the header of Hasan Salihamdzic, skilled with the redirect into the bottom-right corner. 1-1. The equalizer almost caused Bologna to panic. With the exception of a good Di Vaio short-range header (excellent reflexes by Buffon to keep the ball out), the Bianconeri progressively started to take control of the match, forcing Antonioli to earn his paycheck on Giovinco and Del Piero.
Eventually however, the pressure got the best of the Rossoblu: from the right, Salihamdizic crossed towards the opposite wing to Iaquinta, who was left so unmarked the ex-Udinese striker even had time for tea & biscuits before laying the ball back for an oncoming Sebastian Giovinco. Super-Seba armed an outswinging one-time effort that left Antonioli no chance, and it was 2-1 Juventus.
The final 15 minutes were an all-Brazzo/Alessandro Del Piero show: the Bosnian midfielder providing the assists, the Juventus captain the goals (the first following a beautiful fake-shot on Terzi, the second picking up his own rebound after a save from Antonioli). 3-1 and 4-1, and also a welcome return to goalscoring efficiency for ADP, who had been “silent” since his January 14th match against Catania. In the general Stadio Olimpico Bianconeri party (which also included first Serie A appearances for Primavera’s Daud & Immobile), Pinturicchio even came close to the hat-trick with an effort off the crossbar, deep into stoppage time.
A good day for Bianconeri fans worldwide, myself included. Waiting on good news from San Siro on Sunday.
|GOALSCORERS: 24’ Mutarelli (B), 49’ Salihamidzic (J), 71’ Giovinco (J), 75’, 87’ Del Piero (J).
| JUVENTUS (4-4-2): Buffon – Grygera, Mellberg, Chiellini, Molinaro – Salihamidzic, Marchisio, Tiago (46’ Poulsen), Giovinco (88’ Daud) – Del Piero (91’ Immobile), Iaquinta. (bench: Chimenti, Zebina, Ariaudo, Esposito). Coach: Ranieri.
| BOLOGNA (4-5-1): Antonioli – Zenoni, Terzi, Britos, Lanna – Bombardini (74’ Osvaldo), Mutarelli (52’ C.Amoroso), Volpi, Mudingayi, Valiani (62’ Adailton) – Di Vaio. (bench: Colombo, Marchini, Mingazzini, Castellini). Coach: Mihajlovic.