So the other side of Torino finally got their win... *slow clap*
Losing is never a nice feeling — quite the opposite — but winning them all is a strenuous task. A quick recap of Juventus’ current situation shines a fair few positive rays over this rather bleak result, which would not even be rewarded with the "annoying" label if it wasn’t against the Granata.
Champions League semi-finals? Check.
Top of the table with a 14-point lead? Check.
Coppa Italia final? Check.
Mister Max Allegri has certainly earned the right to a poor display from his team now and then. With the title only a formality — four more points needed — it is simply logical to invest the efforts on the other objectives after such a successful year so far. Even the fact Juve have only won one of their last six away games in Serie A, drawing three in the process, is nowhere near alarming. With Lazio (LAZIO!) as the only other title candidate, if you can call it that, domestic fixtures should be a mere child’s play from now on.
Switching back to 4-3-1-2 after the 3-5-2 deployed against Monaco was perhaps expected, given the circumstances. Romulo, Kwadwo Asamoah, Martin Caceres, Patrice Evra and Paul Pogba are all still out injured, while Claudio Marchisio was suspended for the match. Carlos Tévez was given a well-deserved break, and so were Giorgio Chiellini and the wall Andrea Barzagli. Starting Alessandro Matri ahead of Fernando Llorente probably raised a few eyebrows, but the Spaniard has been indeed in shocking form lately. It was rather hard to foresee Matri’s bad luck — the poor guy did try a lot.
All the changes were then necessary. With the Fiorentina game fast approaching, namely this Wednesday, a few fresh legs coming from the bench did the trick today, despite the result. Expecting a similar line-up as today’s to face Sampdoria next weekend is not too impudent either, considering the fact Real Madrid comes up after just three days. It is hard finding a game from recent years more important than the first leg against the Spanish opposition. Benfica at the Juventus Stadium springs to mind, but it is quickly brushed aside by some more resilient neurons.
So, there you go — plenty to think about than just mourn over this defeat. And at the end of the day, Fabio Quagliarella scored! All Juventini should be happy for him ... the cheeky bastard.
In a terrific atmosphere created by maroons thundering in the stands, Morata was the author of the first shot in the very first minute when he tried to surprise Daniele Padelli from outside the box, but the ball flew over the crossbar.
Torino were the better team for the first 10 minutes or so. Marco Benassi saw his effort going wide off Gianluigi Buffon’s goal in the 7th minute, just moments before the veteran goalkeeper was called into action to save Quagliarella’s shot placed right near the post.
In the 13th minute, Matri wasted a huge chance for Juventus as he received a delightful chipped ball from Andrea Pirlo but sent his shot over the target from inside the 6-yard box.
Three minutes later, Roberto Pereyra did well to steal possession in midfield and launch a counter. After an exchange with Morata, the Argentine delivered a low cross for Matri but the Italian striker couldn’t get in front of his marker and the ball was cleared away.
All of a sudden, the game gained intensity and the two teams attacked each other on counters. Matri was again involved in the opposite box without any effects on the scoreline, just before Quagliarella and Benassi combined inside Juventus’ area without threatening Buffon’s goal.
A header from Morata was easily saved by Padelli in the 31st minute, but it boded worst things to come for Torino.
And indeed, Juventus broke the deadlock in the 35th minute. Matri won a free-kick in central position, 20 yards away from Torino’s goal. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Pirlo stepped up and converted the set piece in astonishing fashion, curling the ball over the wall and past Padelli with the help of the crossbar.
But the Bianconeri couldn’t hold the advantage until the break. Leonardo Bonucci misjudged a long ball, allowing Quagliarella to cut in from the right and find Matteo Darmian unmarked on the left. The defender’s first touch was poor but he followed the ball and eventually managed to put it past a helpless Buffon.
Juventus started the second half on the front foot but couldn’t create a dangerous action until the 52nd minute when Pirlo was presented with another free-kick opportunity, from around 30 yards out. The curl was similar with the earlier striker but this time the ball hit Padelli’s left post, as the goalkeeper was rooted to the spot.
Quagliarella stunned the Bianconeri in the 57th minute. Darmian received a pass on the left from El Kaddouri and played it across the box. The ex-Juventus striker beat Angelo Ogbonna to the ball and tapped it past Buffon from close range to give Torino the lead.
With the scoreline against him, Allegri decided to change and replaced Morata with Tévez in the 65th minute.
Arturo Vidal missed a huge chance five minutes later. Pereyra combined with Tévez just outside the box and delivered a splendid cross with the outside of his boot for the Chilean midfielder whose header flew inches wide past the far post.
A few moments afterwards, Bruno Peres was brilliantly blocked by Bonucci inside Juve’s box before Ogbonna cleared a dangerous ball headed in by El Kaddouri.
With 15 minutes to go, Matri came close again to scoring after a good cross from Stephan Lichsteiner, but like Vidal earlier, the striker couldn’t direct his header on goal, hitting the upright instead.
Josef Martinez thought he doubled Torino’s advantage in the 80th minute after a good action from El Kaddouri and a similar good ball cut back by Quagliarella, but his goal was disallowed for an offisde.
At the other end, Juventus hit the post again through Simone Padoin, whose cross from the left bounced untouched in the box. Simone Pepe tried to nod it in but Padelli was at his post again. Moment later, the goalkeeper produced an unbelievable save at Stefano Sturaro’s header from close range after a perfect Pirlo cross.
The Bianconeri continued to press high up the pitch in the search for an equaliser but Pirlo’s shot inside the 5 minutes of injury time went horribly wrong after the ball bounced weirdly just before he hit it. As the full-time whistle arrived, there was no joy for Juventus and Granata’s fans celebrated their team’s win, invading the pitch.
Buffon: 6 Was left with little cover by his defence at both goals, although he could have probably done better at the first one.
Lichtsteiner: 5.5 Had a relatively good defending performance in the first half until he left Darmian unmarked at the first goal. A couple of unusually good crosses delivered in the second part
Bonucci: 5 Was very badly positioned at the goal conceded in the first half and did little in the last 45 minutes to make up for his mistake.
Ogbonna: 5 Too slow to react at the second goal and allowed Quagliarella to get in front of him. The ex-Torino man seemed a bit more alert than his defensive pair though.
Padoin: 5.5 Very little and ineffective defensive contribution although had a couple of decent surges forward.
Vidal: 6 Good ball distribution and several helpful tackles in midfield, although was very wasteful in the final third, also missing a great scoring chance
Pirlo: 7 A fantastic goal from the bearded genius which was almost doubled up in the second half. By far the best Juve player on the pitch
Sturaro: 5.5 His presence in midfield was rarely felt. Missed a fabulous chance to equalise in the final minutes
Pereyra: 6 Was lively in midfield in the first part, getting involved in all the attacking moves but was left without a decent chance by the time he was substituted
Morata: 5 Very quiet game from the Spaniard, who was hardly involved in anything
Matri: 5.5 Really unlucky to miss a handful of good chances although deserves credit for winning the free-kick converted by Pirlo.
Tévez: 5.5 Replaced Morata after 65 minutes but couldn’t make his mark in the game
Pepe: 6 Came in for Pereyra with 12 minutes left to play and missed a good chance shortly afterwards. Lost possession annoyingly for a couple of times
Llorente: N/A Late replacement for Padoin, barely touched the ball
Allegri: 5.5 Can’t blame him for rotating a tired squad, after the intense effort made in the last couple of weeks. Juventus created enough chances and hitting the post four times was really unlucky. Expect him to sort things out again