Sunday night wasn't Juventus' best game. Far from it, actually. Maybe it's because we've been spoiled with beatdown after beatdown of opponents on the domestic front the past few months, maybe it's something else entirely. But either way, Juve didn't resemble the dominating force that have run roughshod over Serie A the past past four months.
Because of all that, Juventus needed a moment of magic. They needed something to get them over the hump and into the lead once and for all.
Carlos Tevez provided it.
Tevez's 14th goal of the season not only moved him into a tie atop the Serie A scoring list with Giuseppe Rossi, but was the difference in Juventus' 1-0 win over city rival Torino in the Derby della Mole at Juventus Stadium. It was a simply stunning goal from a simply great player — one that has brought the two-time defending champions that extra something they've been missing under Antonio Conte.
And for further confirmation of that, we turn to captain Gigi Buffon, who himself is a pretty good player in his own right.
#Buffon: Top players make the difference in tricky games. @carlitos3210 was the one who decided today's #JuveTorino.— JuventusFC (@juventusfcen) February 23, 2014
With the goal and the three points, Juve continued their derby dominance over Torino. But Sunday's match was anything but dominant. Both teams were sound defensively, limiting the potent attacks that each possess. It was just a defensive, tactical battle — one where Juve sat back and reacted to their opposition more than usual — in a hotly contested derby encounter.
That's not the first or the last time it will happen between Juventus and Torino. That's for damn sure.
Juventus have not lost a Turin derby since 1995. They have not even conceded a goal to Torino since 2002.— Paolo Bandini (@Paolo_Bandini) February 23, 2014
And that couldn't have happened without the brilliance of Tevez. He sure has been one heck of a signing, huh.
Random thoughts and observations
- Nothing against Angelo Ogbonna, but how nice was it to have Andrea Barzagli and his glorious beard back in the starting lineup? I missed that guy.
- And the guy who switched over to the other side of the three-man defense with Barzagli's return, Martin Caceres, was pretty good in his own right against Torino. I'll say it over and over again: It's such a luxury to have somebody like Caceres just waiting in the wings whenever Juve need him to play. Will he make mistakes? Sure, but the overall end product — like how he seemingly shut down Alessio Cerci on Sunday — is almost always something that helps Juve win games.
#Conte: We did a good job in containing the threat of Cerci with Caceres and Asamoah. #JuveTorino— JuventusFC (@juventusfcen) February 23, 2014
- There was quite a bit of talk about the Cerci-Ciro Immobile partnership, almost as much as there was about how well Tevez and Fernando Llorente have played this season. But the two Toro strikers COMBINED for 50 touches against Juventus. Fifty total. For comparions sake, Andrea Pirlo had 97 touches in the game. Immobile and Cerci combined for five shots total — none of which were on target.
29 - Ciro Immobile had 29 ball touches in #JuveToro, only one more than Gianluigi Buffon (28). Disappointing.— OptaPaolo (@OptaPaolo) February 23, 2014
- Just a question for the general public: How would you grade Tevez's goal celebration? I think I'd give it a solid 8 out of 10.
- Giampiero Ventura was, of course, talking about the non-penalty when Omar El Kaddouri thought he was tripped by Pirlo in the penalty area. Just one question for Ventura: While there was contact between El Kaddouri and Pirlo, did he happen to see the absolute mess of the tackle that his player made? That was as much of a flop as there ever was one. Better luck next time, Omar.
- Juventus unbeaten run update: 17 games, 44 goals scored, 9 goals allowed.
This has been a Juventus unbeaten run update.
- Sorry, Roma. We're back to plus-9.
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