Juventus beat Hellas Verona heavily for the second time in three days on Sunday, a 4-0 result that heaped on the pain for Verona coach Andrea Mandorlini after a 6-1 result in the Coppa Italia on Thursday. They say it's difficult to beat the same opponent twice in quick succession, with the loser getting a chance to fix the problems and create more problems in the second match, but Juventus-Hellas Verona showed the total opposite.
Two goals in the first 10 minutes put an end to any hope of Verona getting the result, and the majority of the match was fairly calm possession play from Juventus, although the home side seemed able to create a chance whenever they wanted. Verona struggled to create anything all game, with a few hopeful long balls and crosses and a solo counter from Lazaros Christodoulopoulos the best they could muster, all easily dealt with by the Juventus defense.
Martín Cáceres has been fantastic since coming back into the side at right-back, contributing even more going forward than Stephan Lichtsteiner. It will be fascinating to see how the battle for that position develops, and although it will lead to some difficult decisions it is precisely the kind of problem Massimiliano Allegri wants to have.
Paul Pogba was massive in midfield, with his recent form making that Balon d'Or seem just around the corner as he becomes more involved in everything Juventus does, taking more responsibility in central midfield and turning his incredible ability into scoring opportunities even more regularly.
After the excellent attacking performance midweek it's no surprise that Allegri wanted to reward some of the star performers, and despite failing to find the back of the net in either match Álvaro Morata seems set to finally grab the starting role alongside Carlos Tévez. The attack seems much less predictable with the younger, faster Morata buzzing around and taking on defenders, while his holdup play certainly seems good enough. Willing to track back as far as his own byline and surely in line for some better luck finishing, Morata is doing everything to make the spot his own.
The Old Lady steamrollered a Verona side that seemed to show up expecting the worst, and now lead Serie A by five points after Roma was held to a draw in Palermo. The Mastiffs will be seriously shaken by two dismal performances against the champions in Turin, but with Parma and Cesena looking very much primed for the drop, it seems unlikely the tailspin will be bad enough to put them in serious trouble. Mandorlini may not be so lucky however, as his teams past two performances, despite a few decent individuals, have been so disjointed and depressing that pressure must be mounting.
Allegri on the other hand, looks better than ever, with young players looking ready to take the next step and proven performers having some of their best moments. Although Verona offered so little resistance, Juventus played like champions all over the pitch. Since coming back from the winter break Juventus is playing its best football in a long time, and long may it continue.
Almost as soon as it began this match was over as a contest, with Pogba, Morata, and Tévez contributing to two goals in the first ten minutes, after which both sides for the most part seemed content to conserve energy and watch the clock run down. Juventus seemed able to create a chance every time they set their mind to it and raised the tempo just a touch, as Verona's deep lines were shredded at will by the intelligent movement and passing of the Juventus attack and midfield.
It was three minutes in when Pogba broke the deadlock, with Morata collecting a pass down the left side and dribbled infield, drawing three defenders before teeing up Pogba for a fantastic strike, curled into the far corner from well outside the box. Perhaps Rafael in the Verona net was a bit slow to react, but it was a fantastic strike from a player who seems more amazing every week.
In the 10th minute Juventus doubled the lead, and Morata was integral again as he collected Martín Cáceres' ball out of defense and digging out a cross, which took a kind deflection before Pogba got a shout and left it for Tévez to drive home.
Juventus continued to press in the early going, with Andrea Pirlo getting a couple decent looks from free kicks, as Verona struggled to contain the movement of the Juventus attack. With two mobile strikers, Roberto Pereyra and Claudio Marchisio constantly running behind the defense, and Pogba and the fullbacks contributing as well, the Juventus attack looks much more dangerous than just a few weeks ago. Verona finally got some possession around the 15th minute, but even with the ball they only looked interested in keeping the score down.
A couple of slack giveaways in the buildup were the only real chance for Verona to get back into the game, but Luca Toni was isolated against the Juventus defense and unable to trouble Gianluigi Buffon. Pogba continued a fantastic start to the game, able to pick a defense-splitting pass or do all the work himself, beating opponents for skill and strength.
Morata could have had a deserved goal when a chipped ball for Marchisio forced a sloppy back-header, but Rafael Márquez just did enough to put him off. The game continued fairly settled at 2-0, with Juventus upping the tempo occasionally and getting very close to a third, including a Cáceres shot that whistled wide after Pirlo's low free kick was deflected by the wall.
Around the 40th minute the Pogba show returned, as he was involved in everything on both ends. Shimmying past a man and nearly grabbing another curling wondergoal, then intercepting a pass to nearly play in Tévez, before sprinting back and easily outjumping Luca Toni when Verona tried to play long.
As the match ticked towards halftime Verona still had little idea with the ball, with Juventus dominating every matchup on the field. Still able to easily work space deeper in midfield and with constant runs beyond the defensive line, it seemed only a matter of time until Juventus grabbed its third goal of the evening.
The second half started with a flurry as Juventus tried to add to the lead, with Morata heavily involved as he just missed setting up Marchisio with a backheel and blasted wide from long range. Cáceres combined well down the right with the strikers and Marchisio, and Rafa Márquez was called on repeatedly to keep the scoreline down.
Morata nearly set up Tévez following excellent harrying down the right as he dispossessed Guillermo Rodríguez, but put too much pace on the cross.
Lazaros was the only Verona player who looked like he might get something out of the match, as he kept running hard and trying to create something either on the counter or by winning the ball in a dangerous area, but he never had enough help against a determined Juventus defense. After losing the clean sheet on Thursday, the Juve backline seemed determined to not let it happen again.
In the 66th minute Juventus finally got the third goal, with Giorgio Chiellini charging forward as the Verona defense looked on like statues. On the edge of the box a defender finally stepped out towards big Giorgio, but that only gave him space to play in Pereyra for the midfielder's first Serie A goal in a Juventus kit. With two goals in his last two games, following a barren streak since his summer move, Pereyra getting into finishing form just adds another dimension to the Juventus attack.
A few minutes later Carlos Tévez rounded out the scoring, completing his sixth brace of the season (fourth in the league,) and extending his lead atop the scorers charts with a cool finish between Rafael's legs. The move started with Cáceres winning a long ball and charging forward, laying the ball off to Marchisio and continuing his run into the penalty area. Marchisio followed suit, driving into the heart of the defense, before finding Tévez' run with a perfectly-timed assist.
As the clock ran down there was little hope for Verona to get anything at all, as Pepe and Giovinco returned to the pitch following inspiring displays midweek. Verona had perhaps its best chance of the night when a Brivio cross nearly fell for Martić but the Croatian completely missed his kick.
Juventus saw out the night seemingly looking for particular goalscorers, as the ball made its way towards Pepe, Evra, and Giovinco in good positions. None of the strikes caused any serious difficulties for Rafael however, who now leaves Turin with 10 goals conceded and the knowledge that it could have been worse.
Buffon: N/A Clark Kent didn't need to change out of his suit for this one, as Verona hardly directed anything near the goal all game.
Cáceres: 7 A fantastic shift from the versatile defender, who used his pace and energy to run the entire flank and even get into the box.
Bonucci: 6.5 Kept Luca Toni well under wraps and played his role well in circulating possession, made a couple of mistakes but quick to recover.
Chiellini: 7 Like his partner in defense Chiellini had no trouble winning the aerial battle with Lucone, also contributing an assist for Pereyra following a swashbuckling run.
Evra: 6.5 Combining well with Pogba and very good in covering for his defensive partners, Evra could have done more in the final third but, like the entire team, played a good match.
Marchisio: 7 Always stretching the defense, Marchisio was a constant menace, whether combining with the strikers and looking for a return or driving forward himself. Contributed an assist, and was very close to getting on the scoresheet.
Pirlo: 7 With the changes brought by Allegri and Pogba's growth in running the game Pirlo's role has changed, but the veteran still has the skill and awareness to unlock a defense at any moment. Good in his defensive role and deadly from free kicks, Pirlo is still a big part of this team.
Pogba: 8 The young Frenchman is showing perhaps the best form of his life, and the level seems to be rising every week. Dominant every time he gets on the ball, any weaknesses in his game are rapidly disappearing.
Pereyra: 7 Somewhat hidden for parts of the game as he dedicated a lot of effort to Marchisio-like runs to create space for others, Pereyra came to life in the second half, getting on the ball more and scoring with a confident finish after Chiellini played him in.
Morata: 7.5 Despite not getting any of the 10 goals himself, Morata has played a vital role in Juventus' back-to-back wins over Verona. His pace and directness add variety to the Juventus attack, and he has made a very convincing argument for a starting role.
Tévez: 7.5 Playing with Morata has not slowed Tévez at all, with the Argentine striker continuing to take his chances like an Olympic marksman. As always gave his strong showing in terms of effort and buildup play.
Pepe: 6.5 Only given 15 minutes, Pepe showed his technique and a good turn of speed down the wing, as well as firing in a hopeful shot or two.
Padoin: N/A Run out in midfield this time, Padoin did his thing: no frills, full effort.
Giovinco: N/A Given a couple of minutes for Tévez the Italian striker tried to dribble through the defense or latch onto a ball over the top, but it never quite came off.
Allegri: 7.5 After a 6-1 win it would be normal for a side to sit back on its laurels a bit, especially when facing the same opponent only three days later, but Allegri's rotations and motivational skills contributed to an even more impressive performance. With all his moves seemingly paying off in spades, Allegri has proven the doubters wrong and made this team better.
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