It is frightening how little positives are there to take out of the poor performance of Juventus. You would run out of negative adjectives before finishing describing the dreadful display, so the way to do it is to give credit where it’s due, namely Andrea Stramaccioni. Despite being the most horrible result in football, the 0-0 draw is probably the only weapon a small team, which also finds itself in a certain crisis, has against the reigning champions. Had Stramaccioni been given the point before the game, he would have taken it with both hands.
This, however, is no excuse for the lack of reaction from Max Allegri. With Arturo Vidal injured and Claudio Marchisio suspended, Allegri decided to switch to 3-5-2 to accommodate his best three available centre midfielders, Paul Pogba, Andrea Pirlo and Roberto Pereyra. Despite also starting — and playing awfully — in the Coppa game against Parma, Fernando Llorente replaced Alvaro Morata in the first XI. Being unable to find a response to the opponent’s defensive tactics was rather disappointing for Allegri, especially with Kingsley Coman, Morata and even Simone Pepe on the bench.
Stramaccioni had a good start of the season with Udinese but lately, his team didn’t quite perform, winning just three of the last 15 Serie A games and just one on home soil. Juventus won the last six meetings between the two bianconero sides, so prior to the match, things were looking good in the quest to extending the gap at the top of the table to nine points, as Roma were earlier held to a 1-1 home draw by Empoli.
But the former Inter manager had other thoughts, as he did his homework brilliantly, leading his team to an almost flawless defensive display, with some huge help from Allan, the best men on the pitch by far, who man-marked Pogba throughout the game. So there it was — another stubborn defence in front of Juventus’ attacking lines and the result was the same old and increasingly annoying one.
Players were way too static in attack. With Pogba and Pirlo marked, there was no inspiration or a clear idea for a breakthrough, as Pereyra seemed unable to find his place in midfield. Two chances wasted by Carlos Tévez and Llorente, together with the crossbar hit by Pereyra, ensured Stramaccioni would get his point. And in all fairness, it would have been harsh for Udinese to lose the game, as they fought for every single ball, containing Juventus’ attacks comfortably for the majority of the time.
Just over the 10 minute mark, Juventus were caught completely unaware at the back as Antonio Di Natale played a great ball for Bruno Fernandes who was through on goal, but made a horrendous first touch, allowing Leonardo Bonucci and Martin Caceres to double back. Fernandes had to go for the goal then but his shot was weak and off target.
Juventus were lacking pace in attack, being unable to break down the opposite defence. Pogba tried a couple of long shots but gave goalkeeper Orestis Karnezis no problems, while Tévez was quick to recover a lost ball outside Udinese’s box in the 17th minute, only to blast his shot off target.
First big chance of the game was missed in the 23rd minute by Cyril Thereau who found lots of space on Caceres’ side, with the Uruguayan out of position, but his shot was straight at Buffon. The goalkeeper denied the Frenchman but the ball bounced to Fernandes outside the box, whose shot went over the crossbar.
Llorente missed a huge chance just before the 30 minute mark. For once, Pirlo delivered a great cross from a corner-kick, finding Llorente unmarked in front of goal but the Spaniard somehow missed the target, putting his header wide. Buffon denied Fernandes again one minute later, making a good save at Portuguese’s long shot, sending the ball behind for a corner kick.
It wasn’t much of spectacle until the half time whistle, as Juventus looked very slow and predictable in the build-up. No real ideas in the last third and Udinese were defending rather comfortably, also being a threat on the counter.
The second half started in pretty much the same way the first one ended and Juventus only created the first big chance in the 58th minute when Pereyra struck the crossbar right on the corner with a powerful volley from just outside the 6-yard box.
In the 65th minute, Tevez and Pereyra linked-up nicely inside Udinese’s penalty area, but the former’s shot from a good position went way over the crossbar.
Di Natale had a good chance to put Udinese upfront in the 84th minute after a poor headed clearance from Pereyra. The ball reached the diminutive striker inside Juventus’ box but his volley went over.
Tévez missed a glorious chance to win the game for Juventus just a minute later. Morata found lots of spaces down the left flank and then played a low cross inside the box for Pogba, who laid the ball for Tévez. The Argentine uncharacteristically failed to hit the target.
It was the last chance of the game and Juventus had to settle for a point, wasting the chance to move 9 points clear ahead of Roma.
Buffon: 6.5 Made a couple of good saves in the first half, denying Thereau and Fernandes a goal which could have proved costly for Juventus
Caceres: 5 Was at fault for Udinese’s big chances in the first half, as he was caught completely out of position twice
Bonucci: 5.5 Tried his best in helping the team’s build-up play, delivering a few good long balls. A bit shaky in the first part, but defended well in the second
Chiellini: 6 Made a few good clearances but wasn’t very involved in the game, making none of his usual attacking rushes.
Lichtsteiner: 5 Was of no use in attack, delivering poor crosses. Didn’t help Caceres defensively either
Pereyra: 6 Despite the fact he played in a three-man midfield before, it is clearly not his best position. Was too predictable and clumsy at times on possession
Pirlo: 6 Horrendous deliveries from several free-kicks and corners, failing to make an impact in attacking moves.
Pogba: 6 Had some hard time in being man-marked by Alan, as his attacking contribution was reduced to zero. Made some good interceptions and tackles, however.
Evra: 5.5 Despite being a constant presence in attack, couldn’t influence the game enough. Not much defending to do.
Tévez: 6 Missed a huge chance that could’ve gave Juve the victory. Far from his best again, but was continually – and maybe too much – on the move to find and create spaces.
Llorente: 5 Another poor game. Was ineffective in front of goal, again struggling to find his form.
Morata: 6.5 Replaced Llorente in the 67th minute. Injected some pace into the attack, being more involved than his Spaniard compatriot.
Padoin: 6 Replaced Evra in the 75th minute, but added nothing new
Allegri: 5.5 Despite the fact he couldn’t rely on Vidal and Marchisio, he was completely outplayed by his opponent counterpart and had no response to the tactics. Might have also been probably satisfied with a point, knowing Roma drew earlier and decided not to risk
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