Another day, another win for Juventus. The champions extended the lead at the top of the Serie A table to 17 points for a few hours, as Roma also won their game against Cesena. But the way Max Allegri — with some help from the players now and then — manages to drive Juventus forward from a great result to another, keeping the whole squad happy and in perfect harmony, is nothing short of extraordinary.
And, at the end of the day, a 14-point lead at the top of Serie A is not too shabby, either.
Besides the nice results that keep on coming, the great mood of everyone in the team is probably the best thing happening in Turin and Allegri deserves full credit for that. Even Fernando Llorente seemed to enjoy his time on the pitch more, as he and Simone Padoin started to give Alvaro Morata and Patrice Evra a rest.
Simone Pepe and Alessandro Matri, whom are known for their great relationship with core players of the squad such as Gianluigi Buffon, Andrea Barzagli, Giorgio Chiellini or Leonardo Bonucci, both received playing time as well. Having the support of the players is key in managerial success and with a team so united, making it all the way in the Champions League is becoming more feasible with every passing day.
Genoa was a tougher nut to crack than it might have appeared at the first glance, even with the result of the last meeting from October in mind, when Il Grifone won the three points after Luca Antonini scored a 94th minute winner — it was a Matri assist, if anyone was wondering.
When a side visits Juventus Stadium on a nice Sunday afternoon and, on paper, starts with at least a huge handicap compared to the hosts, the story is often the same one – they sit back, as close as possible to their own box, enjoying Juventus’ continuous flow of attacks for 90 minutes and, if possible, they would like to get home with only two points dropped.
But it was a different story — more so in the first half — with this Genoa side who gave Juventus a good run for their money. Gian Piero Gasperini decided he would not stick with the pattern and had his players applying pressure on Juventus’ backline at every possible moment. Even after Carlos This vez scored that beauty of a goal, Genoa remained unfazed and played their game.
The result? A highly entertaining first half that was later marred by a lackluster second part.
A very lively start to the match saw Llorente getting in a good position outside Genoa’s box but the Spaniard couldn’t find a teammate with his pass after a good run forward from Arturo Vidal. Just a moment after that, Bonucci played a horrendous ball from defence straight to M’Baye Niang whose shot from 20 yards out went only inches wide of Buffon’s post.
Juventus kept pressing high and were very energetic every time they had the ball in the final third. Ten minutes in, Llorente received a brilliant ball and managed a fabulous turn to get away from his man but after advancing in the opposite box with the ball at his feet, Facundo Roncaglia’s sliding tackle blocked the Spaniard’s shot.
Chiellini found himself at the receiving end of a good delivery from Claudio Marchisio in the 15th minute but he couldn’t direct his header on target.
It was then Genoa’s turn to apply pressure on Juventus’ defence as three minutes later, Buffon spilled a ball that came to him after a deflected shot from Andrea Bertolacci but the danger was cleared away by Bonucci. Moments later, Roncaglia also tried his luck from distance, although his shot went way off target.
After soaking up the pressure, Juventus found the breakthrough in the 25th minute. Tévez — who else? — opened the scoring with a fantastic strike from a tight angle topping up an even better solo effort. Genoa poorly tried to clear a ball that reached Roberto Pereyra and the Argentine found his compatriot just outside the box. Tévez unleashed his dazzling dribbling skills, easily beating two opponents in his way through and then sent a fierce shot that went in off the crossbar, giving no chance to goalkeeper Mattia Perin.
Juventus didn’t step back and had another chance in the 27th minute through Stephan Lichsteiner, whose left footed shot went over the crossbar. After the Swiss’ chance, however, the game lost a bit from its intensity.
Perotti missed a half-decent chance for Genoa in the 44th minute when he found a bit of space at the edge of the box and tried to place a shot near the post, but Buffon made a comfortable save.
The first half ended with a massive let-off for Genoa. Marchisio delivered another good cross from a corner kick and Llorente’s header was pushed wide by Perrin but straight in the path of Tévez, whose shot was then blocked on the line by Bertolacci . Chiellini got to the rebound inside the 6-yard-box but his shot bounced off the crossbar and referee Marco Di Bello put an end to the half.
Gasperini made a substitution at the break as former Juventus — and Roma, Milan and other seven clubs — player Marco Borrielo replaced Niang.
And Borrielo quickly got involved in the game or better said, in a row with Bonucci. The former teammates wrestled each other outside Juventus’ box, forcing Di Bello to book both players.
Perin, who already needed the intervention of the medical team right before the break, tried to continue the game in the second half but eventually had to come off in the 52nd minute, forcing Gasperini into making his second substitution. Eugenio Lamanna took his place between Genoa’s posts.
The first minutes of the second half had nothing from the good rhythm of the first – too many interruptions with a few players spending more time down on the pitch than playing football.
Juventus missed a huge chance to double their lead just after the hour mark. Referee Di Bello pointed to the spot in the 62nd minute after Roncaglia made a clumsy challenge on Pereyra inside Genoa’s box, although Pereyra was looking for the contact.
Tévez — and not Vidal — stepped up to take the penalty but he missed it as substitute goalkeeper Lamanna dived to his right to pull out a superb, essential save — his first of the match.
At the very next action, Juvenuts missed another good opportunity when Tévez played a through ball for Llorente in a great position inside the area. The Spaniard faked his initial shot, beating a defender, but the next attempt was blocked and the ball cleared away.
Allegri made a double substitution in the 72nd minute – Pepe and Matri replaced Lichtsteiner and Llorente.
Three minutes later Matri won a free-kick on the left side. Pepe was the player to take it and sent a good cross in for the same Italian striker, but his header was an easy save for Lamanna.
In the 79th minute, Barzagli received a round of applause from the whole stadium after a fantastic piece of defending to deny Perotti a chance to score, clearing the ball behind for a corner with a neat tackle.
The game saw a quiet final with the hosts controlling possession and keeping Genoa away from Buffon’s goal. A last chance for Juventus came in the second minute of injury time when Pepe found lots of space on the right side but his cross had a bit too much behind it and Stefano Sturaro, who replaced Vidal earlier, couldn’t reach the ball.
It was the last action of the game, as Di Bello blew the full-time whistle seconds later.
Buffon: 6 Was called into action a few times in the match, but it wasn’t too much of a challenge for the captain, who was as confident as usual
Barzagli: 6.5 After a shaky start with some problems containing Niang, the experienced defender got back to his usual great level – The Wall.
Bonucci: 5.5 Often attempted the direct ball for the front players but made several poor passes. A bit uncomfortable at the back, also foolishly receiving a yellow.
Chiellini: 6.5 Made a great sliding tackle that stopped a dangerous counter early on. Missed a huge chance before the break but had a steady defensive performance
Lichtsteiner: 6.5 Good contribution in attack — very energetic and confident, and also decent when defending. It seems like the poor form is behind him.
Pereyra: 6 A bit too hasty at times, losing the ball after an unnecessary take on attempt, but good overall. Credit for winning the penalty, but it was a bit forced
Marchisio: 6.5 Great passing and deliveries throughout, although he made that risky challenge on Perotti inside the box. Industrious performance from Il Principino
Vidal: 5.5 Decent ball distribution but again, not at his best level. Was caught on the ball a few times in the centre of midfield.
Padoin: 5.5 Made an important clearance inside 20 minutes, but was quiet for the rest of the game. No attacking contribution from him
Tévez: 7 Was once again the decisive man for Juve, creating and scoring a fabulous winner. Could have been an even better day, had he not missed the penalty
Llorente: 6 Made a good start to the game, showing some nice skills but then switched off a bit, also missing a great chance in the second half.
Pepe: 6 Replaced Lichtsteiner in the 72nd minute. Wasted a good opportunity 10 minutes later when he hesitated to cross a ball for the lurking Matri, but provided the team with the necessary fresh legs.
Matri: 6 Nice movement upfront for him after he came in for Llorente. Missed a decent chance to score with a header but didn’t make a massive impact
Sturaro: N/A Replaced Vidal in the 88th minute
Allegri: 6.5 Continued with the same formation Juventus finished the great performance at Dortmund, shuffling the starting XI a bit, starting Llorente and Padoin. Despite the ambitious first half played by Genoa, Allegri seemed to have everything under control and after Tévez scored, the result was easily defended
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