KING ARTURO THOUGHTS
When Arturo Vidal was signed from Bayer Leverkusen, few could've predicted the effect that he would have on Juventus in the long run. He came in with a pedigree of playing determined, high-pressure football but his technique level and his ability to stay consistent on the big stage had not been proven. At least not to those that had only watched him a handful of times.
Today, in his third year with a Juventus jersey, Arturo Vidal is a symbol of this Conte era. He is not only consistent and a metronome for this team in both defense and attack, but he's also become the top scorer under Antonio Conte with 32 goals in all competitions. Teams across Europe dream of signing Arturo for their midfield, though the only signing he'll be doing anytime soon is putting pen to paper on a new contract with the Old Lady.
A couple more fun facts that I grabbed off Twitter for those that may have missed them:
- On Wednesday against FC Kobenhavn, Vidal notched a hat trick - the first ever of his career
- Vidal's hat trick was only the third in the Champions League in Juventus' history. He joins Pippo Inzaghi and Alex Del Piero on that list
- As is the custom, Vidal took the ball home, signed by his teammates. He dedicated the milestone to his son and daughter (which is on the way in wifey's belly)
Il pallone me lo porto a casa!!! Forza Juveeee!!!! pic.twitter.com/ht085CzGCE— Arturo Vidal (@kingarturo23) November 27, 2013
Only a win was going to suffice on Wednesday, and Juventus duly delivered. With Barzagli and Lichtsteiner still out, Caceres and Padoin came in respectively. Marchisio was dropped after the weekend game against Livorno for the Pirlo, Pogba, Vidal trio in midfield. Our now staples attacking duo of Tevez & Llorente started up front.
Aggressive from the very start, the Bianconeri dominated every aspect of the game in the first 45 minutes. For all the work, they were only able to score through a Vidal penalty in the 29th minute. Copenhagen's 11 men behind the ball on defense did not make things very easy.
One thing was evident very early though - with Llorente coming into form and defenses closing down ground quickly, Juventus is slowly migrating to more high balls to Llorente as the target man in lieu of the usual, direct, pass-to-feet attacking style. After all, this is one of the main reasons why Llorente was such a lucrative signing - his height and strength allows us this alternative, while his technique enables all the players around him to expect quality put downs and passes.
In the second half, everyone knew that Juventus had to kill the game off with another goal but things didn't quite pan out that way. Former Juventus defender Olof Mellberg had other plans when he equalized the score after a defensive scramble off of a corner kick 10 minutes into the second half. In many ways, the goal served as a wake up call for our Bianconeri to keep pursuing the win and not sit back content.
Just 5 minutes later, Fernando Llorente who was fantastic throughout the whole match, was brought down in the area for a second penalty and another chance for Vidal to increase his tally. Once again, King Arturo stepped up confidently and put Juventus up 2-1. The cherry on the top came 2 minutes afterwards when a lovely Pogba cross was placed beautifully by the on-rushing Vidal for the third goal and Juventus victory.
Buffon: 7- Another boring night for Buffon, thanks to these three magnificent men to follow.
Caceres: 7.5 - For the second game in a row, he's come in to replace Barzagli and the defense hasn't missed a beat. He was Juventus' most effective defender on the night with 7 tackles. Bar a couple small hick ups, he was excellent. Quite a refreshment for the older, more methodical Barzagli in that slot.
Bonucci: 7.5 - The timing and anticipation of his tackles makes me so proud of him sometimes. He has that knack to put his head down and focus on shutting plays down and he does it with authority. I was as happy to have him back in the middle of the defense as Jorgensens wasn't.
Chiellini: 7 - Was a bit less flashy than the other two alongside him but still had a very good game.
Padoin: 6.5 - He'll never be the difference maker, but he fills a void and when other players step up and carry the load, I'm okay with him on that right side.
Vidal: 8.5 - I said what I needed to say about him above, but it is truly a pleasure to have this guy on a team you love. With Pogba's continuous improvement on defense, he's getting more comfortable attacking, similarly to how he played the last two years alongside Marchisio. Two great penalties and an excellent header for the hat trick. Arturo Vidal Ale!
Pirlo: 7.5 - Class was surely in session on Wednesday as il Professore ran the Copenhagen team in circles for most of the game. Given space with the midfield and defense sitting so deep, he dazzled with beautiful passes around, through, and over Copenhagen. Found Llorente whenever he wanted to and switched play a lot more equally on both sides. Really good game for the maestro.
Pogba: 7.5 - Was very involved in the first half and delivered a beautiful cross to Vidal for the third goal. Almost scored with a curler in the beginning too. The best part was that he spent very little time wasting on the ball. Got rid of it quick and played a higher pace passing game. He is really developing fast.
Asamoah: 7.5 - There's a different type of confidence coming out of Asamoah lately. He's fierce, determined, and aggressive. Is starting to see a lot more of the ball and always provides great width. Keep it up!
Tevez: 7 - In games where we use Llorente as the main target man, Carlitos is seeing less of the action in the build up of the attack. He's had a few quieter games now, but his movement and threat is never ending. He'll have to adjust to playing off the ball a bit more, and our midfielders will have to be ready to put him through from further away as well. Just something to iron out, I'm sure as time goes by this season it will.
Llorente: 8.5 - Two games in a row he's been my man of match. No, I'm not starting to create a bias here similarly to how I did with Mirko a while back. Simply said, if Llorente hadn't played the way he played, Juventus would've struggled to win the penalties and the game. Almost every ball went through him, and he guarded each and every one of them with prowess. His technique, vision (with his back to the goal), and his passing was on the level needed for a Juventus win in the Champions League. He's a born competitor. As he comes into form, Juventus can only get better from here on out. That's kinda scary to think about. Just imagine if we had proper wingers that could put the ball on his head every time? Man.
Marchisio: 7 - Provided fresh legs and played pretty far up on the field. By the time he was warmed up the game was in garbage time and there was little to contribute really.
Conte: 7 - Was correct to give Caceres the starting spot once again in defense instead of being tempted to use Ogbonna and Caceres on the right flank. The dip in performance after the break may not have been his fault directly, but I do wish Juventus came out a bit more determined to put the game away. His mentality for this situation is the best one we could ask for - the Champions League destiny for this year is in our hands and our hands only. No looking at other team's scores, no looking at draws. Win in Istanbul and we're through. It's that simple (at least on paper). Oh, and yeah, Vidal should've come out as soon as we scored the third goal. Rest our stars Continho!