What a difference one week of "rest" (I really doubt anyone that trains under Conte knows what that word means) makes. Against Roma, Juventus were tired, sluggish and predictable. Against Siena, Juventus dominated from beginning to end, creating a number of chances and converting at the right moments. The win couldn't come at a better time.
First of all, it comes after last week's loss, giving the team confidence ahead of the Napoli clash. Second, Juventus have opened a six-point gap with Napoli, this puts all the pressure on Mazzarri's squad ahead of our game on Friday. Lastly, Juventus have guaranteed that no matter what happens next Friday, we will be ahead of Serie A for at least two more weeks.
Doesn't get much better than that!
But enough about Napoli, let's talk about the Siena match. Juventus welcomed Conte's old team with a few concerns: Caceres was not going to feature, Chiellini was not ready to play 90 minutes, Vidal was unavailable, and Barzagli and Pirlo were one yellow card away from missing the next match. A few years back this lack of personnel would have been disastrous, but not anymore, with our depth and consistent playing philosophy Juventus were able to overcome injuries and suspensions. Besides the regular starters, Conte played Peluso on the left side of defense, Pogba in place of Vidal, and Vucinic and Giovinco up front. From the onset of the match, it was clear that Juventus were going to dominate possession and that Siena were going to use Emeghara's pace to try to get something out of this match.
During the first 20 minutes there were clear signs that Juventus wanted to win the match. One example was a nice exchange between Pogba and Vucinic that should have tested Pegolo. A few minutes later (30 minutes into the match to be exact), a dangerous Vucinic pass was parried away by Pegolo into the onrushing Lichtsteiner who touched the rebound to put the ball in the back of the net. Although the goal was lucky, it was ultimately Lichtsteiner's determination that made it possible. Juventus continued to pressure and 34 minutes into the match, Pogba missed a clear chance.
During the second half, Giovinco got into the game and sent a dangerous cross that Vucinic could not convert. Thirty minutes into the second half Pirlo set up Giovinco from a free kick and the Atomic Ant put it away. His celebration was subdued probably because the fans were whistling and being a nuisance for the whole match (more on this later). Almost 10 minutes after Giovinco's goal, Siena tested Buffon twice: the first time Gigi was able to deflect the ball to the crossbar and out; the second time, the ball hit the post and bounced out. Just when Siena looked like they were going to score a goal and trouble Juventus, Pogba scored with his trademark power shot from far away.
The second half was also important because it marked the first time since December in which Giorgio Chiellini stepped on the pitch. I said it a few times before: injuries are temporary and this team will recover their assets soon enough. Sunday, we welcome Keyser Giorgio to a team that has discovered in Caceres and Peluso, two able substitutes should he need rest. Bentornato Giorgio, you were missed!
Buffon 7.5 Maybe a little high considering how little he had to do today, however, his intervention to deny Emeghara's header was worth waking up at 6 a.m.
Peluso 7.0 A month ago he was the reason why Juventus were going to loose the Scudetto and get demoted to Serie C1. Sunday he stopped everything that came his way. He also completed the highest number of passes.
Bonucci 6.5 Besides his comical miss in the first half when he couldn't connect with the ball from a corner (similar to Giovinco's miss against Roma) he was largely untroubled. He sat back and didn't let Emeghara trouble him.
Barzagli 7.5 In my match notes I wrote: "A Siena player was just denied by Barzagli, AGAIN." I can't say anything that hasn't been said about him so I will leave you with this tidbit of information: Barzagli had more tackles than Peluso and Bonucci together.
Lichtsteiner 7.5 MOTM I would be curious to know how much Lichtsteiner run. He was everywhere today, and I mean that in a good way. Did I mention he scored a goal that speaks volumes of his never give up attitude?
Marchisio 7.0 He had a typical Marchisio match. Hardly noticeable, however, his four key passes — one less than Pirlo's game high of five passes — and three tackles shows how well he did today.
Pirlo 6.5 His assist for Giovinco was very clever, he also had five key passes according to Whoscored. He wasn't very flashy today, but he certainly did the job.
Pogba 7.0 He does not bring the intensity that Vidal brings to the team, but when he is playing at the top of his level, he is technically superior to the Chilean. I wouldn't mind seeing Pogba start ahead of Vidal against teams that park the bus.
Asamoah 6.5 I just don't see all the criticism for good ol' Kwadwo. Defensively he was solid and offensively he created room for himself in a number of occasions. I don't know if he made a single cross, but who would have been the recipient? Giovinco?. Also remember that he only has been with this team for a little over four months.
Giovinco 6.5 Yes he scored a goal, but he also was nowhere to be found for the first 45 minutes of the match. No matter his performance, the whistling from the stands was not only unnecessary but disrespectful and idiotic.
Vucinic 6.0 Vucinic's assist for Lichtsteiner's goal was the highlight of his match. He is still not at his best level. Let's hope Big Game Mirko comes with all guns blazing next match.
Things I think I think
- Pogba's powerful shots from a distance remind me of Nedved's shots a few years ago. Anything that reminds me of Nedved must be good for Juventus.
- King Giorgio is still not match fit. I wish he was at the top of his game but he is not there yet. I hope he can feature soon, but I don't think he should start against Napoli.
- What is the problem with the fans? The sense of entitlement is just ridiculous. To whistle at our own player is just idiotic, never mind that the team is winning and never mind that Giovinco scored a goal. This behaviour is probably what Conte wants to get away from in a different league. I am not saying that the fans' behaviour in other leagues is exemplary, but Italy is well known for its ridiculous fans. I hope Conte's words shut them up.
- Here are my two cents on Conte's words about moving to a different league. He didn't say he is moving right away so there is no need to panic. The rumors of Conte moving to a different league are getting stronger probably so that he can improve his contract, and you know what, he deserves an increase. I personally don't think Conte will leave us next season, but I also don't think he will be like Ferguson and stay with Juventus for over 20 years. With that out of the way, I rather focus on winning the scudetto and going far in Champions League.
- We enter a decisive week for the club. Two positive results against Napoli and Celtic and Juventus can look forward to the Champions League quarterfinals with a nine-point gap with the League's second place.