Juventus 2-3 Cagliari: Biondini, Jeda, and Matri Making Rossoblu History (Serie A Matchday 22)

You know, punters have always given great importance to statistical records. winning streaks and whatnot, but I always say “there’s always a first time” and that “records are meant to be broken“. As much as it feels great when it happens to the good guys (i.e. you, or the team you are cheering for), you’re left with nothing but a feeling of confusion & emptiness when it happens to your opponent. Juventus vs. Cagliari was the latter.

41 years exactly, back to the year of the Lord 1968. While students in Paris were rioting and bringing down the French government, Helmut Haller, Roberto Boninsegna and Gigi Riva had travelled to Turin, in order to get the last recorded Cagliari victory on Juventus soil. The last until Saturday evening, when Biondini, Jeda, and Matri emulated their glorious ancestors and pushed Del Piero & friends against the ropes. After their mid-week loss to Udinese, the Bianconeri may want to quickly strike the last five days from their collective memories. Or at the very least make an useful lesson out of them: the Serie A can be tricky and there are no “safe” matches.

Tactically, the only surprise on Claudio Ranieri’s end was the introduction of Olof Mellberg in lieu of Grygera on the right side. Everything else went according to expectations: Sissoko-C.Zanetti in the middle (although the Italian midfielder would rapidly have to leave the field to injury, replaced by Marchisio), Nedved-Marchionni on the wings, Del Piero-Amauri in attack. On the other end, Allegri really put his fearlessness on display by fielding an offensive 4-3-1-2 formation, Cossu in support of lone strikers Jeda-Acquafresca. The four-man backline was misleading in that the Sardinians had clearly made the trip to Turin to win.

Indeed, Cagliari’s build-up to this match was quite satisfactory statistically (the Rossoblu has raked three consecutive Serie A wins), and the first few minutes of the game highlighted their offensive propensities. It only took the visitors 15 minutes to see their efforts rewarded, when Davide Biondini gathered a right-wing cross from Fini and leapt above Marchionni to head the ball into the net. 1-0 Cagliari, and this despite Juve’s early opportunities with Legrottaglie and Sissoko.

The Old Lady didn’t just stand there to watch though. The “thunderstruck” moment of Udine had already passed, and even though their reaction was more physical than technical, scoring goals needs little adjectives as long as it gets the job done. Sissoko’s equalizer (heading a left-wing corner-kick from Del Piero) was shortly followed by Pavel Nedved’s right-foot effort, recuperating a missed clearance from the Cagliari defence. 1-1 and 2-1 Juventus in quick succession, with the Bianconeri now back in the driving seat and hungry for more.

At this point Ranieri changed his tactics a little bit, setting Marchionni into a more central position as the upper arc of a diamond formation. Up front and visibly excited by his call-up to the Brazil national team (even though Juve said they would not give the striker permission to leave, on account of some kind of FIFA deadline being missed), Amauri stepped up and earned cheers from the crowd for his sudden bursts of pace. The Bianconeri forcing was constant but despite a few extra chances (an external left-footed shot by Nedved wide), the score didn’t change further and both teams went at the break 2-1.

In the second half however, Juventus seemed to wane and fall off the pace with each passing minute of the match. In particular, Ranieri’s tactical choice to always keep his backline very far up the field for the offside trap, turned into a veritable double-edged sword when faced with the super-fast Cagliari counters. Jeda’s equalizer following a good Canini-Cossu combination was only the first example, with the former sending a through ball to the latter, who then adjusted a simple pass for the Brazilian striker’s finish. 2-2 and counting, because Cagliari still had one left where that came from.

Meanwhile, Ranieri put Iaquinta on in place of Marchionni with Del Piero shifting back to a play-making role: the idea was reinforcing the central midfield, but the move instead ended up only weakening the Bianconeri’s wings. And Chiellini’s 70th minute injury (recurrence of his muscular problem) made only matters worse, because Cagliari completed their overtake manoever just 5 minutes later through a Jeda-operated and Matri-finished counter-attack. 3-2, with Juve’s Scudetto ambitions taking a serious dent and Cagliari’s taking another good step forward towards avoiding relegation. No doubt Haller, Bonisegna and Riva enjoyed that.


Juventus F.C.
[Match Highlights]
Cagliari Calcio
GOALSCORERS: 16’ Biondini (C), 31’ Sissoko (J), 38’ Nedved, 51’ Jeda (C), 78’ Matri (C).
JUVENTUS (4-4-2): Buffon – Mellberg, Legrottaglie, Chiellini (71’ Grygera), Molinaro – Marchionni (69’ Iaquinta), Sissoko, C.Zanetti (20′ Marchisio), Nedved – Amauri, Del Piero. (bench: Chimenti, De Ceglie, Poulsen, Trezeguet). Coach: Ranieri.
CAGLIARI (4-3-1-2): Marchetti – Pisano, Canini, Bianco, Agostini – Biondini, Conti, Fini (84’ Parola) – Cossu (69’ Lazzari) – Jeda, Acquafresca (61’ Matri). (bench: Lupatelli, Astori, Matheu, Larrivey). Coach: Allegri.


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Posted in Cagliari, Juventus, Serie A |

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