I'll do my best not to bore you with the same cliche lines from every player, coach, blog, and website about Juventus. We all know every next game is the most important one and only we can lose the Scudetto now. What is happening in front of our eyes, however, is something very, very special. In fact, I don't think half of us can really grasp the gravity of the situation at the moment. That will have to be reserved for the summer and more importantly, next season, when defeats are likely to be more frequent.
In the meantime, I'd like to just enjoy this marvelous quest for an undefeated season and bow in front of our warriors that continue to leave us in shock as we wipe away team after team with another convincing performance. Serie B-destined Novara was the latest to fall in the trap of Conte's man as they left their own stadium having conceded 4 goals . Let's keep it short and see how it all unraveled at the Stadio Silvio Piola.
It was a game of firsts, in a way, as both the starting strikers scored while one of them even grabbed a brace. Vucinic opened the scoring with an instinctive/lucky one-timer from Pirlo's cross, followed by Borriello's header from a Giaccherini cross. Both of these goals came ~20 minutes apart in the first half as Novara chose not to sit back and defend for their lives a-la-Cesena.
In the second, Vidal quickly put the game away for good on a rebound from a Vucinic miss. Conte reacted by resting Vidal and Marchisio and switching Giaccherini to a more central role. Vucinic then sealed off the game with Juve's 4th on the day and his second of the match.
Buffon: 7 - Other than a free-kick straight at him, Gigi had very little to do once again. Despite Novara's open play, they failed to create any troubling chances for our keeper. He must be getting bored out his mind back there.
Bonucci: 7 - It's easy to nitpick on our players but the truth is our defense has been solid all year and absolutely fantastic the last few weeks. Leonardo is a big part of that. Had another strong game and only made one small mistake that was easily corrected. Btw, it's his birthday today, so HAPPY BIRTHDAY Bonucci!
Barzagli: 7 - Another quiet but excellent game by Barzagli. Was happy to see him put his money where his mouth is after last week's post-game interview.
Chiellini: 7 - Overpowered Novara's players with his strength and let little slip by him. As usual.
Lichtsteiner: 6.5 - After 34 league games so far, we all know what to expect from 'Steiner. He runs a ton, is a great defender, and lacks flair and technique to be continually dangerous in attack. He did put Vucinic through which created Vidal's rebound goal, though the pass should've been intercepted before it even reached Mirko.
Pirlo: 8.5 - I'd have to go back and look at my previous ratings this year to find the highest mark I've given a player, but il Professore Andrea Pirlo truly deserved his man of match 8.5 rating against Novara. Carved the opposing defense with ease and showcased his rich passing arsenal for the umpteenth time this season (and in his career). What a joy it is to watch him closely every week now.
Marchisio: 7 - Conte wisely saved his legs in the second half after another stellar 60-minute performance from Marchisio. The MVP trio has run a lot this season and it's good to see Conte and Marotta are already trying to find good back-ups for next season.
Vidal: 7.5 - King Arturo couldn't help himself and got on the scoresheet for the 5th time in the last 8 games. He's picked up exactly where Marchisio left off with his scoring in the last month. Glad to see Conte resting him a bit in the second half as well.
Giaccherini: 7.5 - Given a starting spot in yesterday's match, the diminutive midfielder made the most of it against a confused Novara defense. He showed a lot of energy on the left side of the pitch and grabbed two assists in the game.
Vucinic: 8 - He seems to have found a bit of form lately and luck is clearly on his side. Two goals in just 66 minutes, he's finally playing with the consistency we've been expecting from Big Game Mirko. I have a feeling he will continue his magic against Lecce...
Borriello: 7.5 - Since it's sometimes hard for me to find the time and review mid-week games, I was happy to skip the Cesena game since I would've had to be objective and praise the one player I loathe - Marco Borriello. Nonetheless, here we are with him as our starting striker and scoring for the second time in two games...well scheisse. I guess I'll have to say it - Borrielo has been playing with passion and determination, and I'm happy to see him score the decisive goal against Cesena and now another 4 days later. You happy? Good. Now, can we all please stop kidding ourselves and NOT sign Borriello in the summer? Puhlease?!
Padoin: s v - I'm not giving him a rating not becasue he didn't play enough minutes, but literally because I didn't see him do anything good or bad. Maybe I was distracted by a certain Dutchman...
De Ceglie: 6.5 - Decent sub performance from Paolino.
Elia: 7 - ELIA PLAYED! ELIA PLAYED! I KNOW, I CAN'T BELIEVE IT EITHER, BUT HE WAS DEFINITELY IN THERE I SAW HIM I SWEAR. NATURALLY I GAVE HIM A 7 JUST FOR ACTUALLY RUNNING AROUND WHEN IT'S NOT HALFTIME!
Conte: 7.5 - Continues to take every game seriously and prepares our boys for any challenge that may arrive. I admit I was disappointed to see Borrielo start but the inglorious bastard paid off Conte's confidence with another goal. Conte has now officially equaled Capello's unbeaten record of 91/92 (when he coached AC Milan) and has a chance to break it by drawing or winning against Lecce on Wednesday. Since the league had 18 teams in 1992, Capello's AC Milan went the whole season (34 games) undefeated, a record that Conte can also break if Juventus avoids defeat for the last 4 games.