I had to start with this masterpiece of a free kick. Beautifully struck, curled right in the corner to make it unsaveable. Class is in session, says il Professore. Enjoy.
This was a quick and easy one, wasn't it? 3 Goals in 28 minutes, then a deserved red card by Manfredini and the game was in the bag after half an hour.
In all honesty, we played a vastly inferior opponent which left us a ton of space in the back and we were smart to take advantage of it quickly and efficiently. Then the game got a bit more boring, though we didn't stop creating chances since all of our strikers were hungry for goals and we had numbers. Unfortunately, none came along in the second half.
It was a great weekend for Juventus overall in Serie A too. Inter lost to Lazio despite having most of the chances, then Bologna came back from behind to beat Napoli 2-3 on the last fixture of the weekend. If you haven't had a chance to see Kone's equalizing goal in that game, do give it a peek. It's a beaut.
With two more game to go till the half-season mark, Juventus are officially Campioni d'Inverno for the second year in a row. Kobe Bryant would be pleased.
Not much to write home about tactically. The most interesting thing that happened in the second half was Lichtsteiner playing center back with Padoin playing in his wing back position. Other than that, a 3-5-2 as usual, dominated possession and play from start to finish, and anything else I could say I can also cover individually by player in the pagelle. So let's hit em.
Buffon: 8 - Seeing Marrone right in front of him again instead of Bonucci only sharpened Gigi's focus throughout the game. Right after our first goal, the young midfielder-turned-centre-back slipped and allowed Dennis a one-on-one chance with Buffon but Gigi saved it in style to ensure Juventus stayed on the right course. He also handled any outside shot with ease and dominated his area on crosses. Good game by our Captain.
Barzagli: 7.5 - Played 60 minutes like he usually does - with concentration, determination, and great positioning. Helped out in attack quite a bit once we were a man up. Let little slip by him defensively despite dealing with Maxi Morales on that right hand side. Happy he got some rest, too.
Marrone: 7 - It was good to see the youngster in the starting line up for the suspended Bonucci. He started a bit shaky with that slip up but luckliy Buffon bailed him out. Then he gathered himself and played a confident game with some timely interceptions. 180 solid minutes for Marrone in 4 days - not bad for our Primavera-bred young prospect.
Chiellini: 7.5 - Made sure everything in the back was in order and put in his usual strong performance, despite the advantage in goals and men. Had noticeably more forward forays since he was given more space, though mostly with an amusing effect.
Lichtsteiner: 7.5 - Played a very attacking game once again, this time helped out by the man plus in midfield. Pushed Maxi back and kept him off the counter attack until the Swiss was switched to centre back. Handled that unusual position just as well.
Vidal: 8 - Linked up very well with the rest of our midfield and attackers, though he didn't quite have his shooting boots on for the day. His tackling and dribbling were on point though. Complimented our scoring midfield beautifully.
Pirlo: 9 - A marvelous game for il Professore, scored that awesome free kick then went on and simply controlled the game with his passing like the maestro that he is. To really illustrate that, listen to this: the Beard completed 96% of his passes in the game. Man of match hands down. One thing that may have gone unnoticed was his commitment in recovering the ball in midfield and covering for whomever had rushed forward from our defenders and wing backs. He was left with plenty of space, that is true, but he certainly showed his class by using it to our full advantage.
Marchisio: 8.5 - Could've scored a couple but the one he placed in the bottom right corner was a great one. With the pressure of the scoreline off, he was more relaxed and played a great game. Our midfield really had a field day today.
Asamoah: 7.5 - Perhaps the least used player on the pitch for Juventus, Kwado was rarely in the midst of the scoring opportunities from that left flank. Pirlo sent in a delicious ball to him late in the game which he tried centering but was unable to set up Quagliarella or Giovinco for the tap in.
Vucinic: 8.5 - Played an excellent 60 minute stint. Opened the scoring very early with a great finish and his celebration was so goddamn cute - giving the thumbs up to his son because apparently that's what Aleksandar does every time he sees him on the pitch. Our whole midfield and attack was playing well today, linking up quickly and accurately. It felt like a scrimmage for most of the game, actually.
Giovinco: 8 - Did everything right but score a goal. Was all over the pitch from the very start, his touch was excellent on most occasions, linked up very well with both Vucinic and Quagliarella, and was unlucky not to get on the scoresheet. He even beat Consigli in the second half but was offside by a smidge. Had a ton of chances to score in retrospect, really should've found the net on at least one. And to think that this was the guy with a reputation of always scoring when the games are already won!
Quagliarella: 7.5 - He kind of pissed me off with his constant bitching to everyone that didn't put him in a scoring position. Then realized he should quit that bullshit and try to actually score himself, which he almost did on a couple occasions through his trademark long shots. Consigli had a great second half though, and Giovinco and Quagliarella were unable to score an on-side goal during their time on the pitch.
Conte: 8 - In his first Serie A home game of the season on the bench, Conte was in his true relentless mode. After every goal he screamed more instructions to the players and hardly cracked a smile all game. The fans were once again very happy to have him back and orchestrated a beautiful Con...Te banner at the start of the game. Since I didn't do an official Cagliari recap, let me say it here - Bentornato Mister!