I swear, this has been the most bittersweet season I can remember. As a devoted fan, you watch every game, you will your team to victory, and you are ecstatic every time your team pulls it off. Yet as a Juventus fan, you expect a lot from the team, a standard that only legends before current players have set, a level of quality you grow accustomed to over time.
Juventus is winning, edging ever so close to that third consecutive Scudetto, a feat whose difficulty is understood by every true fan. It's a glorious achievement, really, to stay focused and determined for three straight seasons in a league like the Serie A with teams like Roma breathing down your neck.
But that same Juventus is playing far from great, struggling to create concrete chances, lacking in creativity, grinding for 90 minutes to pull off a single goal victory over teams like soon-to-likely-be relegated Bologna. And mind you, this has been the case for quite a few games this season. What can you do though? You take the good with the bad and you celebrate another very important victory as the season draws to a close. Five points from 4 matches is all we need. You can really start to taste that trophy.
It didn't take long to find out who will be Juventus' aggressor on the night in pursuit for the win. With Tevez and Vidal on the bench, young Paul Pogba took over as the metronome of the team from the very beginning. In just 5 minutes, he tested Bologna's keeper with a close range shot shot, then followed it up later with a close header off a corner.
In the meantime, the two players in charge of scoring up front, Llorente and Giovinco, were just starting to get a feel for each other. The Atomic Ant performed a very good Tevez impression with his impeccable work rate to aid to Llorente's dominance in the air and as a target man.
Bologna rarely had possession for longer than a few seconds, which allowed the defense and especially the returning Barzagli to work on his match fitness before the Benfica game on Thursday.
As Juventus tried to create something out of nothing against Bologna's parked bus, frustration grew at Juventus stadium as the score was still 0-0 after an hour of play. That's when the genius of Pogba settled the game, with the young Frenchman controlling a pass from Isla superbly before slotting home a great shot outside the box to beat Curci.
It was Pogba again who had the best chance to really close the game out later on, but his half volley from close range was straight at the Bologna keeper.
It wasn't pretty, and it surely wasn't convincing, but here we are just 4 games from the end of the season with Juventus marching confidently towards a third Scudetto.
Buffon: 7 - Bored out of his mind until the 85th minute, this was nothing but an easy scrimmage for San Gigi.
Barzagli: 6.5 - Newly returned from injury and looked rusty therefore. Got beat a couple times and had a couple errant passes that could've cost Juve against a better team. It was great to see him back though, we'll need his experience if we are to close out the two titles we are battling for.
Ogbonna: 7.5 - Thought he was great for the full 90 minutes. Won countless headers in the back and was always a force during set pieces in Bologna's 16. A very composed performance for the young center back.
Chiellini: 7 - Didn't have a whole lot of work to do defensively but did everything right when called upon. A solid performance from our King Giorgio.
Isla: 7 - Really pushed high at every opportunity and provided as much width as he could in attack. His crosses left plenty to be desired but that is to be expected. Could've closed the game out but Curci came up with a fantastic save to deny him some 20 minutes from the end.
Pogba: 8 - An enjoyable performance by Pogba who was clearly the difference of the game. He was determined to score and got his goal after an hour of play with a great outside shot. Showed some great skill on the ball too - something the fans always appreciate. He's young and over-emotional at times, but he certainly came through when most needed.
Pirlo: 7 - Found it hard to make a big impact when faced with 10 Bologna men behind the ball. Had several free kicks from which he unfortunately failed to score.
Marchisio: 7.5 - It was one of those vintage Marchisio performances really, running his heart out and battling for every single ball. He covered the whole pitch remarkably and really put in work on Saturday. Wasn't much of a threat offensively but overall I thought he sacrificed himself for the team every second he was on the pitch.
Asamoah: 6.5 - Wasn't as active as Isla on the right but had a hard-nosed Garics in front of him. Had a couple decent balls in the box but they didn't really find any of our strikers.
Giovinco: 7.5 - He probably lost something on the pitch during warm up as he spent the majority of the game rolling around looking for it. Nah, just kidding. While he did theatrically dive on several occasions, Gio actually had a very good game, working hard and slotting between Bologna's lines quite often. Wasn't able to score or create for someone else, but certainly did his best under the circumstances.
Llorente: 7 - He is a limited striker when we have poor delivery from the wings, and Saturday really showed that. Giovinco enjoyed some great put downs from Llorente's aerial prowess and the Spaniard really worked well to carve out his space in front of Bologna's defense.
Padoin: sv - Leave it for Danny to totes call it - Simone got some garbage time minutes and looked all sheepishly ecstatic as usual.
Vidal: sv -
Conte: 6.5 - I do believe that the majority of the issues I bitched about at the very beginning of this recap fall solely on Conte's shoulders. His inability to switch things around and become less predictable have miraculously only caught up with him in Europe, while in Italy we are scraping by towards our third consecutive title.
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