Juventus Fury at the Olimpico: 5 Goals to Get Past Empoli and Qualify for Quarters (Coppa Italia Round of 16 L2)

Coppa Italia Tim Cup 2007-08

Quite the goalfest in Italy this week. After the thumping 5-2 display at the San Siro this week-end, the fun continued on Tuesday, for the Coppa Italia Round of 16 return leg, Juventus-Empoli. As it turned out, this match revealed the two faces of Claudio Ranieri’s reserve side, taking great inspiration from a very famous Robert Louis Stevenson novel. Taking turns playing Dr. Jekyll tonight, protagonists such as Marco Marchionni, Pavel Nedved, Vincenzo Iaquinta, and Alessandro Del Piero. In the role of Mr. Hyde, we found Zdenek Grygera, Jean-Alain Boumsong, Tiago Mendes, and Emanuele Belardi. Thank God this was only an Italian Cup game… but wait, isn’t this the only cup Juve are competing in this year?

Coppa Italia Round of 16 Leg 2 - Juventus 5-3 Empoli

The answer to that last question is, sadly, yes. So you’d think that Ranieri’s choices for Juve’s “mini-Champions League” competition (as the Bianconeri have called it) would include a higher concentration of regular starters in the line-up, I mean especially since Empoli had obtained a 2-1 victory in the 1st leg, which gave them a fairly good opportunity of going through to the next round. No? I agree with giving the reserves a chance to shine, but looking at Juve’s starting 11 the only regular starters in sight were Chiellini, C.Zanetti, and Nedved. So… great confidence or sheer madness from Claudio ‘the Tinkerer’ Ranieri?

The first 10 minutes of tonight’s match pointed strongly towards the former. It took Juve very little to take, believe it or not, a double lead thanks to the goals by Marchionni (deep run down the right, dribble to the center and left-footed finish) and Nedved (slamming rebound from the edge of the box after a shaky goalkeeper clearance). 2-0 Juve with 9 minutes on the clock.

Unlike Ranieri however, Empoli coach Alberto Malesani didn’t shy away from his usual starters: Vannucchi, Abate, Antonini and Pozzi were all present, and it was no coincidence to see the last three combine to provide Empoli with the reduction of the lead first, then the equalizing goal. On the first occasion, a deep run on the right wing by Ignazio Abate found the foot of a faster-than-Grygera Luca Antonini for the finish. Then just seconds before the break, it was Nicola Pozzi putting his mark on the 2-2 tally, exploiting a cross of… once again, Abate. Juve were thus in an awkward position: having to score twice to qualify to the next round. The fact that Giorgio Chiellini had to leave the field, on what likely seemed a twisted knee injury (early reports are talking about 1 month recovery time) certainly didn’t help make things easier.

Nevertheless, the 2nd half started like an exact copy of the 1st: only 5 minutes on the clock and ball in the net for Juve. Exploiting a long pass forward, Iaquinta shielded the ball from his marker then slammed a low diagonal shot past Daniele Balli. 3-2. Three minutes later another goal, Juve once agai… wait no. Huh… I thought this was like the 1st half? Yeah, except this time the goal came Empoli’s way, thanks once again to some very shaky defending (on this one, Boumsong the culprit and Pozzi the scorer). 3-3.

So, once again, Juve were being forced to score a double tally to earn their ticket to the Quarter-finals. 10 minutes passed, and Iaquinta took the first step by converting an open-net chance after a Raffaele Palladino rebound shot. 4-3… could the scoring ever stop at the Olimpico tonight?

As it turned out, Ranieri’s team would also be helped by fate a tiny bit, because after picking up a knock, defender Francesco Pratali couldn’t return to the field and Malesani couldn’t replace him, having already reached the total of maximum substitutions allowed. So, Empoli had to finish the game 10 vs. 11, bad stuff against a fully pumped Juventus. In minute 76, Iaquinta once again exploited a pass from Nedved to set up a shot inside the box, but his finish was thwarted by Tosto. Illegally that is. The ensuing penalty shot was transformed by Del Piero, and Juve had the lead they needed.

To keep the suspense alive the Bianconeri even had the luxury of blowing away three unmissable chances in the final minutes (twice through Salihamdzic and once through Del Piero), but it didn’t matter in the end: at the end of 90 minutes, the show for the Stadio Olimpico faithful had included 8 goals, and the qualification of their favorite team to the Quarter-final stage of Coppa Italia. Could you ask more? A new pacemaker maybe?


Juventus F.C.
[Match Highlights]
 Empoli F.C.
GOALSCORERS: 5’ Marchionni (J), 9’ Nedved (J), 32’ Antonini (E), 45’, 50’ Pozzi (E), 48’, 60’ Iaquinta (J), 76’ pen. Del Piero (J)
JUVENTUS (4-4-2): Belardi – Birindelli, Grygera, Chiellini (19′ Boumsong), Molinaro – Marchionni, C.Zanetti, Tiago (46’ Salihamidzic), Nedved – Palladino (62’ Del Piero), Iaquinta. (bench: Buffon, Castiglia, Esposito, Trezeguet). Coach: Ranieri.
EMPOLI (4-5-1): Bassi (46’ Balli) – Raggi, Adani, Pratali, Tosto – Abate (65’ Buscè), Piccolo (61’ Marianini), Moro, Antonini, Vannucchi – Pozzi (bench: Marzoratti, Ascoli, Giovinco, Saudati). Coach: Malesani.



Posted in Coppa Italia, Empoli, Juventus |

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  • 3 Responses to “Juventus Fury at the Olimpico: 5 Goals to Get Past Empoli and Qualify for Quarters (Coppa Italia Round of 16 L2)”

    1. [...] Vincenzo Iaquinta then gave Juve the lead again before Pozzi equalizing again. Iaquinta and Del Piero put the match beyond reach when they scored in the 61st and 79th minutes respectively. [...]

    2. [...] both Empoli and the presence of Jean-Alain Boumsong (He lives!) and Tiago Mendes in their own team to win 5-3, a result that put them through to the quarters by the completely loony aggregate score of [...]

    3. [...] trailed Torino 1-3 after a dreadful away display. But both teams turned things around, Juve with an almost comically exciting 5-3 victory, highlighted by wide open attacking and their own awful defending, while defending champions Roma [...]