This could have been such a great game. Hellas Verona wanted to give the best goodbye to Luca Toni possible, Juventus wanted to beat their previous record of goals conceded with the help of many non-regulars. Instead, Juventus lost their cool at the back and couldn't respond to Verona's goals. The end result, Juventus' records are gone, and now we only have to look forward to the Scudetto party next week and hopefully a domestic double against Milan before the end of May.
There were really no surprises in the lineup. Max Allegri kept to his word and started Neto at the back covered by Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci, and Daniele Rugani. The wings were manned by Alex Sandro and Juan Cuadrado. The middle of the park saw the most changes, with Stefano Sturaro, Mario Lemina, and Kwadwo Asamoah, a trio that has never played together before — and it showed. Up front, Dybala and Zaza were the only strikers available.
With that starting 11, I thought the less utilized players would play to impress. That was not the case, but I'll rant about that later.
Juventus started the game well. Lemina was connecting defense and attack well enough, Cuadrado appeared threatening, and Dybala seemed to be leading the charge up front. About 15 to 20 minutes into the match, the cracks started to appear. As Chuks put it in the match thread, Asamoah played a few kamikaze balls back to Rugani, and fortunately the youngster dealt with them with aplomb. Lemina moved a few meters ahead and stopped protecting the defense as well. Cuadrado and Dybala continued to threaten, but they were being double teamed and were covered well.
In other words, Juventus were inefective, partly because of Hellas' organization, but mostly because of their own mistakes.
The match seemed to be heading to a tie before the half-time whistle, unfortunately, Sandro committed a foul and the ref blew the whistle for a penalty. Was it a foul? I think so, but I also don't know that many Serie A refs would have called it. Nevertheless, Toni scored took the spot kick and scored his last goal at home in his career.
In the second half, I thought Juventus would come ready to turn the tables, but that was not the case. The team moved forward to try to tie the match, but instead got caught too far up and conceded a second goal. Bonucci lost a battle with Toni, who opened play on the our right hand side to Artur Ionita. Despite having Rugani and Sturaro covering him, he managed to pass the ball to an open Federico Viviani, who didn't hesitate and scored the second goal of the night.
Juventus kept trying to score a goal and they got one in the end. Helander fouled Zaza in the box and the ref pointed to the spot. Dybala took the penalty and scored his 21st goal of the season to equal what Carlitos Tevez did in his first season at Juve. I guess that is at least one good thing to take away from this match.
Neto 6.5 Not much to do in either goal. Could have organized his defense better and called back Sandro or Barzagli to cover the second goal, but that may have been Allegri's instructions.
Barzagli 6.0 Didn't make many mistakes but where was he on the second goal.
Bonucci 6.0 He lost a duel with Toni in the middle of the park which led to the second goal. I don't know what he was doing so far up specially with our left hand side completely exposed.
Rugani 7.0 One bright spot during a terrible game. He stopped Toni singlehandedly in at least two occasions. Unlike many other players out there today, he clearly made a case for becoming a regular rotational player at the back.
Cuadrado 6.0 He dribbled plenty and passed well but he was frustrated about something. Maybe getting hacked left, right, and center, but it may have something to do with going back to England.
Sturaro 5.5 Disappointing. More on him at the end.
Lemina 6.0 He had such good 10 minutes at the beginning of the match and I thought he was ready to start making the middle of the field his own. Afterwards, he moved up the pitch and loss complete sense of space. Nevertheless, for a player of his age, he is going to have off games, and when he is paired with two other players that can't pick up the slack, he is going to suffer.
Asamoah 5.0 He is trying to get back to his level, but it seems like Juventus have grown too much in his absence. His lack of understanding with Sandro was clear to see. Maybe more minutes playing together will help, but I don't know that the Old Lady has that luxury. Where was he on the second goal?
Sandro 4.5 He was at fault for the penalty that opened the score sheet and he got sent off in the end. Just like Asamoah, where was he at for the second goal?
Dybala 7.5 He was one of the few players that cared to win. That is really all I was asking today.
Zaza 7.0 Although I admire his dedication, he needs to know when to use it. You would think that training with Mario Mandzukic would have helped in this regard. He was awfully close a couple of times and I can't help but thinking that if he played more often he could have been more sharp in front of net.
Allegri 6.5 In a game when Max knew he didn't have many substitutes, he had to know he couldn't change a bad game by means of substitutes. So he must have known he couldn't have a bad game. I don't think Max motivated the players properly or that he prepared the game as well as he could have. But then again, his hands were tied with the personnel at his disposal and at this point some players are looking forward to the summer.
Things I think I think
- Here we go on Sturaro. Look, I am not asking him to be the second coming of Ronaldinho, and I will never fault a player for not being able to play better than the top of his abilities. However, I will fault a player if their mental commitment is not there. On Sunday, Sturaro was happy to be on the pitch. He didn't seem to care to win the match or to impress the coach. I like him a lot, and I think he still has plenty of promise, but Max needs to have a chat with him and tell him that if he doesn't care the win every single ball in every single match, he can just go and play in any other club he wants, just not at Juve.
- I really like Kwadwo as a human being. He is so genuine and has been a true professional, however, as I mentioned earlier, it seems like the Juventus he has come back to is too good for him. In front of him he has Paul Pogba, Patrice Evra, and Alex Sandro. If he doesn't play more matches it is hard to fault him for having poor chemistry with the other players, but I don't know that the alternative is in Juventus' best interest. If Asamoah stays then I hope Pogba rests a bit more than he has this year. If Max is not going to provide him with an opportunity, then I think it is time to sell him.
- If Juve keep Álvaro Morata, Juventus has three players for two positions in attack who should be regularly rotated. At the back, Juventus have four players for two or three positions depending on what formation we play. On Sunday, it was clear to see that in the middle of the park, Juventus have only three great players in the middle and the quality drops precipitously thereafter. With Claudio Marchisio potentially out until 2017, it is imperative to have at least one more versatile midfielder. I don't want to talk about who that may be, but we need another dependable player.
- Dybala and Rugani really put an impressive performance today. I would really like to see Dybala playing alongside a trequartista so that he doesn't have to play so far back.
- Bonucci as captain was nice to see.
- Congrats to Luca Toni on an amazing career. Numero Uno is part of Juventus' and Calcio's history.