Juventus 1-2 Palermo: Rosanero Exploit in Turin, Bianconeri go from Bad to Worse (Serie A Matchday 6)

After tonight’s display between Juventus and Palermo, the (Bianconero) cynic in me has this to say: at least we didn’t tie. Indeed, after three consecutive draws against Catania, Sampdoria, and Bate Borisov, Claudio Ranieri can finally get rid of the “Mr. X” tag that was bestowed upon him this past week. This time, Juventus lost.

Not only that, but they lost at home, playing one man down for the entire second half, and they lost to Palermo. Almost too good an opportunity to pass up, as we air the first episode of our famous Sunday afternoon Serie A soap opera: “Ex-Players“.

In this week’s episode, Fabrizio Miccoli, still feeling betrayed by his turbulent Bianconero past (break-ups are never easy), meets with the Old Lady again and… shoots her. Meanwhile Amauri, the tall stud from Brazil who is still struggling to get his Italian passport, gets in bed with his Rosanero lover again. Things have changed however, the sex isn’t the same. Unfortunately, he also seems to have undergone a goal-vasectomy: he’s firing blanks… Finally, since no soap would be complete without a declaration of love, here goes: Giovanni Cobolli Gigli hearts Claudio Ranieri.

If like me, soap operas make you sick to your stomach, read no further.

In order to break the drawing curse, Ranieri decided to abandon his usual 4-4-2 formation and do things differently this time: exit Camoranesi & Nedved, enter the 4-3-1-2 formation with Poulsen, Sissoko, Marchisio at the back and Sebastian Giovinco trequartista. In other words, three defensive mids with an attacking midfielder. Also exit Chiellini, Legrottaglie, and Iaquinta (all injured): the Juve coach was forced to field Mellberg/Knezevic at central back andl Del Piero/Amauri up front. Palermo’s Davide Ballardini fielded essentially the same formation on the other end, with Mark Bresciano being preferred over Migliaccio, and the scoring duties left to Miccoli/Cavani.

The initial minutes of the game, quite revelatory in their own right, finally made the entire Stadio Olimpico of Turin realize a very simply truth: as much as Juve’s 4-4-2 line-up left a lot to be desired this past week, today’s 4-3-1-2 sucked even worse. Severely lacking ideas in midfield, the Bianconeri essentially relied on Giovinco’s glimpses of genius to create something (like he did against Bate), glimpses which today were insufficient at best and non-existent at worst. The amount of playable passes received by Del Piero and Amauri remained at a very dangerous low, all the while Sissoko in playmaking version (à-la-Pirlo) should probably be an experiment not to be repeated. Not that there’s any risk for that in the near future, since the Malian midfielder managed to get sent off shortly before the break for two consecutive yellows, and will have to be suspended. But let’s proceed in order.

First came the Palermo goal, fruit of a quick aerial free-kick pass received by Cavani and slammed towards Buffon’s far post. Juve’s nº2 pouncing reflexes saved his team once, but not twice as Fabrizio Miccoli “burnt” Knezevic’s reaction time to send the ball into the back of the net. 1-0 Palermo in minute 23.

The goalscorer had very little time to celebrate, being forced off the field due to injury (shortly followed by Olof Mellberg at Juve). In came Migliaccio and Salihamidzic respectively, just in time to witness Alessandro Del Piero‘s equalizer from set pieces, an inswinging shot towards the right post which surprised goalkeeper Marco Amelia. 1-1.

Juventus Turin's forward Alessandro Del Piero (front) celebrates with teammate midfielder Sebastian Giovinco after he scoring during their Italian Serie A football match against Palermo on October 5, 2008 at the Olympic Stadium in Turin. (AFP/Getty Images)No sooner had they tied the game that Sissoko’s recklessness (although to be honest, the second yellow handed by the ref was just as unnecessary as Sissoko’s foul) created another hurdle for Juve to overcome. The 41st-minute red card left Ranieri with limited options on how to fix the midfield situation, definitely in need of some changes in the second half. When these changes arrived (Camoranesi on for Poulsen, i.e. a defensive player for an offensive one), it became obvious the Tinkerman was tempting fate: with your team down to playing with 10 men, was going for the win the most sensible choice here?

Answer: no. Black & white tombstone, thy name was counter-attack today… or should I say “counter-attack Mchedlidze“? Coming on for Bresciano, the young Georgian striker proved Ballardini right once again (his previous substitution, Migliaccio for Miccoli, had resulted in Sissoko’s red card) by receiving a well-timed pass from Fabio Simplicio and beating Buffon with a low shot. 2-1 Palermo, aggravating times in Casa Juve.

Just to rub salt on an open wound, final word should go to Mr. Statistics. Including last season, Juventus had not lost for 11 games in the Serie A before tonight, all the while Palermo had not beaten Juventus in Turin since 1962 (that’s over 46 years). Also, tonight’s match-winning-goal was Levan Mchedlidze’s first tally in Serie A… ever. Bravo to him. In the meantime, Ranieri’s got some serious work ahead of him but fortunately, he shouldn’t be too worried about losing his job. For now. But let me just add that us other Juventini aren’t as patient as big boss Gigli…


Juventus F.C.
[Match Highlights]
U.S. Città di Palermo
GOALSCORERS: 23’ Miccoli (P), 39’ Del Piero (J), 81’ Mchedlidze (P).
JUVENTUS (4-3-1-2): Buffon – Grygera, Mellberg (33′ Salihamidzic), Knezevic, De Ceglie – Marchisio, Sissoko, Poulsen (65’ Camoranesi) – Giovinco (80’ Nedved) – Amauri, Del Piero. (bench: Manninger, Chiellini, Molinaro, Tiago). Coach: Ranieri.
PALERMO (4-3-1-2): Amelia – Cassani, Bovo, Carrozzieri, Balzaretti – Nocerino (80’ Gio.Tedesco), Liverani, Bresciano (60’ Mchedlidze) – Simplicio – Cavani, Miccoli (26′ Migliaccio). (bench: Ujkani, Dellafiore, Raggi, Guana). Coach: Ballardini.


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Posted in Juventus, Palermo, Serie A |

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