Inter score three, Juve win it at the death. In the end it’s all the same: three points in the bag, and the Serie A standings unaltered.
And so, because points are more important than goals or scoring chances, several facts go unnoticed at the end of Sunday’s match. Two of them are that despite their win, Juventus played one their worst games of the season, and that Lecce, despite their evident technical inferiority, fought hard to come from behind and would have at least deserved a tie at the end of the night.
Instead, what people will remember out of Lecce-Juventus are mainly two things.
The first, is that Sebastian Giovinco scored his first Juve goal. In the absence of Alessandro Del Piero La Formica Atomica finally got his chance to shine and, emulating his idol captain, did not pass it up. His beautiful free-kick provided the Bianconeri’s first goal; his moves, his touches, and his accelerations gave Juve supporters a glimpse of what may very well be the Black & White future of the next decade. This is how champions are born people.
The second thing people will remember, exemplied by Amauri’s goal in the 90th minute, is more of a reminder of sorts. It embodies a team spirit that, in months of uncertainty, courtroom frustration, and Serie B agony, has still remained intact: La Juve non molla mai.
Go and ask your Italian friends what it means…
Thanks in large part to the never-ending list of infirmary ward residents, this wasn’t exactly an easy game to deal with for Claudio Ranieri. In addition to “habitués” Trezeguet, Buffon, Tiago, Camoranesi (etc. etc.), last-minute forfaits included Del Piero and Iaquinta, which pretty much forced the Tinker-man to christen the unique Giovinco-Amauri partnership up front. On the other end, manager Mario Beretta relied on the goalscoring prowess of José Ignacio Castillo and Simone Tiribocchi (nicknamed “Il Tir di Fiumicino“, meaning the “truck of Fiumicino” -the Roma airport- probably a pun based on his name & big corpulence).
Much to the chagrin of paying spectators however, the first half of this match was a sorry excuse for a football game. Ranieri had planned on sending his team forward without taking unnecessary risks at the back, and his boys must have taken him to the letter because there was not a single shot on goal the entire first 45 minutes. Giovinco was constantly bogged down by his markers, Nedved & Marchionni uninspired, while Sissoko & Marchisio were doing exactly what was being asked of them (cover) but not much more. Thus, the only real “chance” before the break was a risky challenge by Lecce keeper Benussi, not appropriately exploited by Nedved and Sissoko.
Inevitably in a match like this, the only way to break the tie would have to be one single event. Such as a free-kick for example.
Del Piero being absent, Juve’s resident expert became a 21 year-old product of their Primavera, and its seems that ADP’s lessons have been paying off: in the first real shot of the match, Sebastian Giovinco found the winning trajectory to put his team in the lead. Top corner, and 1-0 Juventus.
Instead of ending it, Juve’s goal had at least the merit to “wake up” the game just a little. Beretta made some tactical changes (Caserta & Giuliatto on for Ariatti and Schiavi), and told his lads to push up the field. It worked. Caserta in particular became the inspiration provider for crosses and assists, such as those arriving in the vicinity of Tiribocchi and Castillo. Both strikers’ aim left to be desired however.
Eventually though, Beretta aced his last substitution (Daniele Cacia) because Lecce had their equalizer. Giacomazzi crossed it from the right wing, and the newly-arrived player armed a beautiful volley straight into Manninger’s bottom corner. 1-1 with 7 minutes to spare.
Was it enough for the Salentini to get one point out of this game? Amauri certainly didn’t agree. In the last minute of regular time, the Brazilian striker was on the receiving end of a Paolo De Ceglie cross, and slammed the ball hard onto the ground for the winning header. 2-1 Juventus.
It just seems Amauri can’t stop scoring GWGs (the count is 8 at the moment). Will he be able to do the same next week, when Juve host AC Milan to elect the real anti-Inter contender? We will know soon…
|GOALSCORERS: 57’ Giovinco (J), 83’ Cacia (L), 90’ Amauri (J).
| LECCE (4-4-2): Benussi – Schiavi (70’ Giuliatto), Stendardo, Fabiano, A.Esposito – Munari (81’ Cacia), Giacomazzi, Vives, Ariatti (70’ Caserta) – Tiribocchi, Castillo. (bench: Rosati, Polenghi, Diamoutene, Konan). Coach: Beretta.
| JUVENTUS (4-4-2): Manninger – Grygera, Legrottaglie, Chiellini, Molinaro – Marchionni (82’ De Ceglie), Sissoko, Marchisio, Nedved – Giovinco, Amauri. (bench: Chimenti, Mellberg, C.Zanetti, Ekdal, F.Rossi, Yago). Coach: Ranieri.