Serie A Matchday 16: Super Show at Stadio Olimpico, Lazio-Juve ends 3-2 for the Bianconeri

Serie A

Note: Sorry for the lack of updates on Friday. Like I mentioned before, I’m spending the holidays in Italy with limited internet access.

Booyah!! Was this a spectacular game to watch!!! 90 minutes, 5 goals, 3 of which marvels of wonderful passing at work. In the end, the winning equation for Juventus had two simple components: Cristiano Zanetti and Alessandro Del Piero. The former inspired the latter with two amazing 70-yard passes in the second half, and when called into action, the Juve captain certainly didn’t fail the rendez-vous with the net. Two very important goals for Del Piero, who earned tonight his first starting role in a while (also because Iaquinta was left at home with influenza). Lazio managed to score two goals through Goran Pandev, but not more due to some amazing saves of SuperGigi Buffon.

Serie A Matchday 16 - Lazio 1-3 Juventus

The 1st half of this match was quite litterally a symbol of balanced effort from the two sides: from one end to the other, ball possession shifting quickly, and about as many chances created on either side. I’m jumping the gun here, but no surprise in seeing the half end on a tied score (in this case, 1-1).

It all started with minute 14, and the first real chance for the Bianconeri: from a Del Piero free-kick at the corner of the box, the ball was lofted forward to find the header of Chiellini, who missed the bar by a hairbreath. Onto the other hand minutes 17-18, first Pandev (great Buffon save) then Stefano Mauri (point-blank volley over the bar from a good position) gave some really big scares to the Juve supporters, but the score remained unchanged. For now.

Indeed, at around the half hour of play Juve pulled ahead, in what seemed more like a lucky series of pinball deflections than a real goal: another Del Piero set piece finding the noggin of Chiellini, ball forward to Hasan Salihamdizic and ensuing poked shot into the net. I guess I should mention that “Brazzo’s” shot hit David Trezeguet on the way in, and looped over the last line of Lazio defense enabling the goal. 1-0 Juve.

The Bianconeri’s lead only lasted 7 minutes however, and it went a little something like this: aerial ball by Oleksandar Kolarov, flick by Tommaso Rocchi for Massimo Mutarelli, through to the goal line, looping cross for Pandev, open net, goal. Bummer for Buffon and for Juve, 1-1.

There was little left to see in this 1st period, save for a small head-on collision between Lionel Scaloni and Pavel Nedved, which forced the Czech midfielder to be substituted at the half. Speaking of substitution, and the fact that (according the Ranieri’s post-game interviews) Juve were wasting too many passes in midfield, this was a good time to insert Tiago for the aforemention injured Nedved. Now, the Portuguese playmaker might have had some rough matches with the Bianconeri this season (played very little, and when he did he failed to impress… which eventually forced Ranieri to relegate him to a bench role), but in this one he did everything right. In fact,  his technique and passing were a real bonus for Juve, who could then hit Lazio hard and put the nail in the coffin in quick succession.

The two Juve goals of the 2nd half were near-perfect photocopies of one another: ball stolen in defense, ends up to Cristiano Zanetti who then sends a perfect ball to Del Piero across the field. Scaloni’s marking is left a lot to be desired in each occasion, and allows the Juve captain to slip through, get inside the box and overpower Ballotta with his left foot. 3-1 Juve with strikes in the 48th and 70th.

Lazio did what they could, fighting to reduce Juve’s lead and prove that their bad performance vs. Real Madrid was only an accident. Alas, their defense was all over the place (in a bad way), and the midfielders weren’t doing much better: in minute 61 (before Del Piero’s second goal) Tiago stole the ball from Gaby Mudingayi, and set it up on a platter for Trezeguet on the edge of the box. The Frenchman’s finish however found the foot of Ballotta in opposition.

On the other end, Lazio’s attack wasn’t having much luck either. Rocchi tried on 3 repeated occasions to find the net: the first two with headers (good saves by Buffon on rather weak shots), then with his foot (on this one, Buffon was absolutely miraculous with his one-handed save to safeguard Juve’s one-goal lead).

Eventually the Biancocelesti did find the way of the net once again, when Rocchi was sent deep onto the left wing and crossed an accurate ball for Pandev‘s second header of the night, and final 3-2 scoreline. Between that and Juve’s third goa howeverl, Zanetti and Nocerino had been working their asses off in order to keep the ball as far away from the Lazio players as possible. And they pretty much did their job. There were perhaps some refereeing decisions which could be left to discussion (especially some non-P.K. calls e.g. the fouls inside the box by Salihamidzic/Chiellini on Kolarov/Pandev, to which can be added a blatant challenge by Ledesma on Del Piero, in the second half), but overall they cancelled each other out and all in all, this was a deserved victory for Juventus.

With this win, Juve temporarily bounce ahead of Roma in 2nd spot, waiting for the Giallorossi’s game on Sunday.


S.S. Lazio
[Match Highlights]
Juventus F.C.
GOALSCORERS: 29’ Trezeguet (J), 36′ Pandev (L), 48′, 70′ Del Piero (J), 93′ Pandev (L)
LAZIO (4-3-1-2): Ballotta – Scaloni (75’ De Silvestri), Siviglia, Cribari, Kolarov – Mutarelli, Ledesma, Mudingayi (86’ Meghni) – Mauri, Pandev, Rocchi (bench: Muslera, Stendardo, Manfredini, Baronio, Makinwa). Coach: D.Rossi
JUVENTUS (4-4-2): Buffon – Zebina, Legrottaglie, Chiellini, Molinaro – Salihamidzic, Nocerino, C.Zanetti, Nedved (46’ Tiago) – Del Piero, Trezeguet (bench: Belardi, Grygera, Olivera, Birindelli, Marchionni, Palladino). Coach: Ranieri


Posted in Juventus, Lazio, Serie A |

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