Who would have thought, given the unmitigated disaster that has been Parma's season so far, that Juventus -- runaway league leaders and champions-elect -- would come a cropper at the Stadio Ennio Tardini. Most likely no one, as even with their decent form of late, Parma are still not very good. It seemed very safe to assume that a Juventus win was a given, even with a number of reserves filling in for some of the established players.
But, as the saying goes, "When you assume, you make an ass of you and me." Juventus were shocked and, admittedly, deservedly beaten. Parma, ultimately playing just for pride as they will definitely be relegated to Serie B, were quick and incisive for the most part. They caused us numerous problems on the counter-attack (a well-known problem that we have had for a while). Though they gave up chances to us, between some brave defending and top goal-keeping from former Juve bench-warmer (and Zach Braff lookalike) Antonio Mirante, they kept Juventus off the score sheet.
It's hard to know what to make of this loss. On one hand, Juventus definitely did not play up to their recent standards, though we were terrible. In the form we were in, we should have won this easily. On the other hand, we can't blame the reserve players who have largely done well when called upon this season, including in the recent good run of form.
Il Mister, Massimiliano Allegri, was rightfully annoyed at the performance and had choice words after the game. The good news is that this loss only delays rather than derails Juve's charge towards our fourth consecutive Scudetto. Even with a Roma win tomorrow, Juventus will remain 11 points ahead, which barring a momentous collapse is an insurmountable lead.
It may be best to just write this off and move on. Monaco are up next and the focus needs to quickly turn to that game. It's been the case recently that when Juve have these types of losses, it acts as a positive shake-up and they get back to the business of dominating all their way. Let's hope that starts with Monaco on Tuesday.
But hey, for those English Premier League fanboys who like to trumpet that the EPL is the best league because "anyone can beat anyone else on any day", how you like dem apples?
Parma started the match stronger, but failed to make the early pressure count; their best chance being offside as Abdel Ghezzal tried to get on the end of Cristóbal Jorquera's deflected shot. Juventus' first chance came on fifteen minutes; a surging run by Stefano Sturaro saw the ball fall to Claudio Marchisio at the top of the box, whose shot was deflected up by Zouhair Feddal and caught by Mirante. On twenty minutes, a counter attack saw Inter reject Ishak Belfodil elude Giorgio Chiellini on the right before cutting inside the same defender and firing a left-footed shot, forcing a save from stand-in Marco Storari.
Juve's best chance of the first half came on thirty-two minutes; a free kick was clipped to the far post by Marchisio for Arturo Vidal's late run, his header forcing Mirante into a brilliant kick save. Kingsley Coman got into the game, creating a chance for himself on fourty-two minutes and forcing another kick save out of Mirante.
Some neat play between Marchisio, Vidal and Fernando Llorente saw the big Spaniard lay off for the oncoming Marchisio for a one tim left-footed shot from the top of the box, which went wide of the far post on fifty-five minutes. Coman again created an opening for himself, this time cutting in from the right wing into the middle and firing high and wide with his left.
The game's loan goal came on the hour mark. Chiellini failed to intercept a pass by Ghezzal on the counter, which resulted in the ball getting to Belfodil out on the right, who - after being given too much space by Angelo Ogbonna - rolled across for the onrushing Mauri to put a left footed shot into the top corner past Storari's dive. It was a lovely finish to a wonderful move, but could have been avoided with some better defending.
Parma tried to go for a second, with Silvestre Varela having a shot charged down on seventy-four minutes. Juve's last real chance came from Vidal's header on eighty-five minutes. Neither team could score, and the game ended 1-0 in favour of the Gialloblu.
Storari: 5.5 Did not have a lot to do with Parma only having one shot on target and all; unfortunately for him, that one shot was the goal.
Lichtsteiner: 5.5 Didn't do much wrong in this game. Was typically dogged, getting up and down the right flank. Could have done more offensively.
Chiellini: 5 His missed interception turned into an inadvertent assist on Parma's goal; another costly error of note this season. Was also given trouble by Belfodil's pace in the first half. Another sub-par game.
Ogbonna: 5 His lack of pace was exposed on a few occasions. Also gave Belfodil way too much space to lay off for José Mauri on Parma's goal.
Padoin: 5.5 An expected Padoin-esque performance, and one couldn't have expected more.
Vidal: 6 A solid shift by Arturo. Has been looking better on a more consistent basis in the lost couple of months, and got into a few good positions with late runs today. The goals have dried up, however, which was a big part of what made him so dangerous and coveted.
Marchisio: 6 Likewise, a solid shift by Claudio. Passed well and his movement off the ball was very good. Continues to pick up needless yellow cards and did so again today.
Sturaro: 5 An average performance by the youngster, who is honestly yet to impress and show why Juve ended his loan at Genoa early. Just making up the numbers at the moment.
Pereyra: 5.5 The Argentine has been a good form recently, but put in a so-so performance today. Unsurprisingly hooked for Alvaro Morata.
Coman: 6 A rare start for the 18 year old, and a decent showing. Made a couple decent chances for himself and showed his undoubtedly quality and potential.
Llorente: 5 Played the full 90, but didn't even get a shot on goal. Was involved in some attacking plays, but he's not giving much reason for the fans to want him to stay. Not scoring is one thing, but Fernando generally does not even look threatening. Allegri needs to work this out or get rid of him in the summer.
Morata: 5 Surprisingly quiet when he came on, not being too involved in the creation of chances.
Pepe: 5 As with Padoin, Pepe gave the type of performance that one would expect from him - complete with wayward/blocked crosses. In all fairness, you can't expect much from a player who's in the squad to keep spirits up.
Vitale: N/A Replaced fellow youngster Coman with only 10 minutes to go.
Allegri: 5.5 Personally, I find it a bit harsh to blame Allegri for this loss; to me it was just one of those games. But I guess the coach should take blame for any loss suffered by a team. If there's one thing Allegri has shown this season though, is that he can get things back on track. Let's hope that starts with the Champions League first leg on Tuesday.