There is one freaky statistic going on the Serie A league these days, and it concerns a certain club from Northern Italy, more specifically Turin. Just have a look at KwSport’s Juventus page, in particular the “gol” section: you will find that since the 2007-08 season started, the Bianconeri have scored 33 out of 40 of their goals in the 2nd half!! That’s 82.5%!!! Does it really come as a surprise then, to see Juventus come from behind at the Stadio Friuli of Udine today, and reverse their 0-1 half-time deficit to a 2-1 final scoreline, courtesy of the goals by Mauro Camoranesi (playing his first starter game since his injury) and Vincenzo Iaquinta (coming on in minute 76 and litterally scoring on his first touch of the ball)? Second-half magic, 100% made in Juventus.
Tactically, this game was also the opportunity for some of Juve’s key pieces to make their return (some from injury, some from suspension), namely Gigi Buffon, Giorgio Chiellini, Mauro Camoranesi, and Cristiano Zanetti. The presence of the world’s nº1 goalkeeper notably made a huge difference in the Bianconeri’s victory today, because despite a few initial problems (on which the entire Juve team shares the blame), SuperGigi showed once again why his hands are worth their weight in gold.
In the first half, there was litterally only one team present on the field and it wasn’t the visitors. Udinese might just be coming back from a painful 5-0 loss to Napoli, but they were showing nothing for it: coach Pasquale Marino evidently had his troops well-prepared for this match, because the Bianconeri (for the day, Juve was wearing their away blue shirts) were aggressive, made perfect use of short passes, and utilized every space to perfection, wings included (Damiano Ferronetti and Andrea Dossena were a real thorn in Juve’s backside the first period). Fabio Quagliarella in particular (who just came back from his Azzurri goal vs. Portugal) was constantly varying his position from right to left, often provoking Juve’s right-back (Jonathan Zebina, also back from injury) into one-on-one challenges.
The first goal of the match (as early as minute 6) came precisely from Udinese’s left-wing, with Quagliarella provoking, entering the box, and slamming a powerful shot onto the first post. Buffon couldn’t manage to parry the ball away to safety, clearing it onto the feet of Andrea Dossena instead: hard shot into the roof of the net, and 1-0 Udinese.
Normally, you would have expected a team of Juventus’s caliber to benefit from the early cold shower (and shake things up a bit), but instead the Turin Bianconeri continued their slumber and allowed their Friuli color-cousins to keep attacking unopposed. In minute 21, Gaetano D’Agostino hit the post straight from the corner-kick (with Buffon standing to watch), and 5 minutes later a Chiellini slip set up Antonio Di Natale with a golden opportunity, what you may call a ‘moving penalty shot’ straight in front of the net! Fortunately for Juve, on this one Buffon really saved the day by parrying Di Natale’s shot into corner. A real miracle on which the Juve keeper received the congratulations of Udinese’s nº10.
The half thus ended on a 1-0 Udinese scoreline, with Juventus really trying very little to change the result. Del Piero and Trezeguet weren’t receiving many playable balls, also due to the good pressure applied by Udinese onto the Juve midfield. Surely however, all that was going to change once the Mr. Claudio Ranieri had a talk with his boys, or rather (considering the terrible performance of his team in the first 45), a scream.
And indeed it did. After the break, Juventus came back onto the field with a lot more determination and more fighting spirit. Udinese did get another good chance in minute 54 (a Floro Flores one-time finish from a deep pass, saved by Buffon), but at the hour mark Juventus tied the score on their first real chance of the game! On a corner-kick delivery by Alessandro Del Piero, the Udinese defenders man-marked the usual Juve target men, leaving Mauro Camoranesi completely undisturbed for the strong headed finish past Samir Handanovic’s hands. 1-1.
Much like the first half had been seen a complete domination by Udinese, the second period was turning into a real siege from the visitors, with Juventus tying the game and obviously being hungry for more. The ensuing 15 minutes went by essentially inside the Udinese half, with penalty calls being claimed on either side (Andrea Coda on Alessandro Del Piero, and Giorgio Chiellini on Cristián Zapata) but not given. All the way to minute 76, time for one of Udinese’s ‘old glories’ to make his way onto the Stadio Friuli pitch: the moment of Vincenzo Iaquinta (on for a poorly-incisive David Trezeguet). And boy, was he not going to waste time: just 20 seconds after coming onto the field, the ball was lofted forward to Pavel Nedved, who controlled on the edge of the box, switched the ball from his right to his left, and trickled a penetrating pass for Iaquinta inside the box. The ex-Udinese man then touched his first ball of the game, and sent it past Handanovic’s arms low into the net! 2-1 Juventus.
There was still time for Buffon to pull yet another miracle save (parrying away a powerful left-footer by Gökhan İnler), Antonio Floro Flores to miss a few chances from close range, but eventually the game came to a close and brought a vital 3 points to Juventus. In light of the Champions League qualification battle, Ranieri’s team will be needing every point they can get, and surely getting out of their 6-points-in-4-games series is great news. As for Udinese, they played really well in the first half but suffered the technical superiority of their opponents over the whole game. Coming from their brutal 5-0 defeat to Napoli however, the team responded well and based on that, Marino shouldn’t have too much trouble to keep his team motivated until the end of the season.
|GOALSCORERS: 6’ Dossena (U), 60’ Camoranesi (J), 76’ Iaquinta (J)|
|UDINESE (3-4-3): Handanovic – Zapata, Coda, Lukovic – Ferronetti (87’ Candreva), D’Agostino, Inler, Dossena – Floro Flores, Quagliarella, Di Natale (bench: Chimenti, Zapotocny, Colombo, Isla, Eremenko, Siqueira). Coach: Marino.|
|JUVENTUS (4-4-2): Buffon – Zebina, Legrottaglie, Chiellini, Molinaro – Camoranesi (86’ Sissoko), Nocerino (70’ Palladino), C.Zanetti, Nedved – Trezeguet (75’ Iaquinta), Del Piero (bench: Belardi, Salihamidzic, Grygera, Tiago). Coach: Ranieri.|