Match Review Serie A

Back on track : Juventus 4-0 Cagliari

September 22, 2016 - 11:32 am

After last Sunday’s horror-show against arch rivals Inter Milan we were fortunate to welcome Cagliari to Turin as sacrificial lambs to the slaughter to immediately remind ourselves that all is not lost. The Sardinians played their role in proceedings to perfection…

The game felt more like a pre-season friendly against a local amateur side than a top flight encounter, for we were in control from the first till the final whistle. Suffering very few half chances and scoring four well deserved goals in the process.

Player ratings

The coach took me to one side during the warm-up and told me I could sit this one out...

The coach took me to one side during the warm-up and told me I could sit this one out…

Buffon – N/A

Chiellini – Vastly more composed performance. No errors and appears to be regaining his focus. 6.5

Barzagli – Barely saw the old war horse after an early moment of excitement when he tracked back to trap the ball and play out of danger. 6.5

Rugani – Wonderful to see him hit the ground running. By far our most involved defender, hustling, blocking, stealing the ball and moving high to add to the numbers in midfield when Alves headed for the final third. Brilliantly taken goal from the rebound. Shame for the yellow which should not have been given, yet it took nothing away from a commanding showing for the youngster. His future, which is our future, appears ever so bright.  7.5

Alves – The Brazilian skeletor impersonator is finding his feet in this juve side, taking less risks on the ball and adding real quality to the offensive phase with intelligent passing, decent dribbling and accurate crosses. Scored a memorable strike from outside the box and was a thorn in the side of Cagliari throughout. 7

Fast becoming one of the finest fullbacks on the planet...

Fast becoming one of the finest fullbacks on the planet…

Sandro – Superb. I believe we have found in the young wide man a truly outstanding talent. I know of no other left back as consistently dangerous up top and solid at the back. A steady menace, offering serious threat whenever the ball was at his feet. He must surely be first choice, with Evra now rightly playing second fiddle as back-up. Could have scored late on with a header, other than which was indomitable. 8

Hernanes – Went about his work diligently and comfortably. His maturity in the position was noted, as was his ability to recycle the ball smartly and maintain a physical presence in that all important position in front of the defence. Set up a few good chances for others and his late attempt from range was quality. Solid. 7

Lemina – Still to convince me as a serious contender for a first XI berth when all others are fit and match sharp, yet Mario had a good game. He does seem more comfortable in a role absent of major defensive duties and perhaps its for the best to use him as a Khedira apprentice. Involved himself more vigorously in the midfield, spread the play intelligently and was in the right place to force the fourth goal. Definite potential, but where best to place him to develop? 7

Pjanic – Back to a role which allows him to focus on the final third and instantly improved. The Bosnian found space, passed often beautifully, almost scored with a free-kick and produced two assists. He is slowly moving up the gears and will assuredly prove a valuable signing once fully on song. 7.5

Dybala – Fought hard and linked up well with the team as a whole. He is definitely playing deeper, no matter what Allegri says and once other players up their game we will see more end product, for presently he is focused on connecting the midfield and attack, far less often than last term finding himself in goal scoring positions. I am happy to see his creativity glowing and growing, as his passing range is often sublime. 7

Higuain – Scored one, hit the post, created another with a well executed volley on the turn from a free kick he had won. He could have easily had a hatrick. What has impressed me is his link-up play, which is a part of his game I was unaware of prior to his arrival. Far more than merely a natural born goal scorer, yet as he gains match sharpness, he gets better and better. 8

Pjaca – A little more time to impress than has become the norm of late, and the Croatian tried hard to make things happen. He forged one great chance late on. 6.5

Reasons to be cheerful

We ran zero risks. Dominated the game from start to finish. Created by my count 12 clear goal scoring chances. Scored four. And barely moved out of second gear.

Higuain, Sandro and Dybala are looking world class threats going forward. The defence was more solid and we could have easily won this tie 8 or 9-0.

There are no reasons to be bothered from this encounter, with the only possible negative found in the low quality of the opposition. Who rarely threatened, and whilst they did adopt the fabled ‘high press’ in the second half, it led to nothing, with the defence and midfield holding firm and continuing to create in the final third.

Alves is well on his way to becoming a juventino...

Alves is well on his way to becoming a juventino…

It was an interesting move to see Alves cutting in central, with Lemina pushing wide and Rugani making up the numbers in midfield. This is an advantage of playing Rugani instead of Barzagli at RCB, for he is far more mobile. I am pleased to see Allegri trialing such systems. With several of our set piece routines also appearing straight off the training pitch.

Pjanic deployed alongside a competent holding midfielder appears clearly the best fit for his talents – at least in our loose 3-5-2. Once Marchisio returns to the fold, to that very position, our midfield will become perfectly balanced. Mandragora will provide natural back-up in the middle with Sturaro and Lemina keeping Miralem and Big Sami honest.

Alves and Pjanic are both very comfortable on the ball and it shows in our play, both when defending and when moving the ball forward, sometimes with hugely welcome and encouraging one touch football. We have seen hints of this in earlier games, and I cannot help becoming excited at the potential of this squad, which will not be realised after just six games.

Il Principino will soon return to the ranks...

Il Principino will soon return to the ranks…

Despite the rancid outing against Inter, we are back on track. Still to find Marchisio, Sturaro, Mandragora and Cuadrado entering the fray, yet well positioned domestically, all to play for in Europe and playing some decent football.

As a juventino, I am accustomed to winning, yet what matters most to me is more than mere results. It is the manner in which we play, the way we behave both on and off the field. For the club has always held an almost regal sense of dignity, transmitted from the President down.

I work alongside a long term Man U fan from the motherland. He is a hardy fellow, knows the game inside out and we have shared delightful reminiscing of the 90s when Juve and Man U shared a respectful rivalry to such a extent that the fans would often applaud their opponents. Angry at the decision to bring in Mourinho, for he doesn’t want the club so close to his heart to be focused singularly upon results, and the Special One does not fit the traditional club ethos, when I talk of Juve, he is less concerned with the result, instead always more focused on asking ‘how did you play?’ For he seeks that glimmer of childish glee in my eyes as I explain a move of one touch passing which led to a player hitting the post, he seeks the same all consuming devotion to the cause found through feeling every tackle, watching every shot in slow motion on the edge of your seat, of the tides of the heart rising and falling spectacularly as glory and failure remains in the balance.

After speaking of Higuain today, he replied…

“That is all we as fans can hope for and demand, to see our players give their all for the badge…its the fight, its the pride in the shirt, not the winning or the flash cars or Adidas adverts, but the grass roots connection to the fans, for we play with them and through them, kick ever ball, run every yard, lose and win as a team, as a club, as a part of our own heart and soul…I would rather lose a game, and feel my heart ablaze with passion inspired by the players fighting for every blade of grass, than win dirty, than watch my team hound the referee at every decision, for they represent me…at least they used to…”

Some of that pride which seemed lost on Sunday night was restored against Cagliari. I saw those in black and white determined to fight, to dominate and entertain. The passion wholly absent in the hurtful surrender against a club who have caused us more harm off the field than any other in history has been swiftly recovered and perhaps it was the galvanising force required to truly kick-start this campaign. Much like last season when the derby lit the fires within. It is where we go from here which now counts. Do we stride forwards with renewed confidence or wilt once again?

Agnelli has presided over a stunning return to the top...

Agnelli has presided over a stunning return to the top…

We should all be very proud of our club. We have been through hard times, yet the club ethos has remained. And we have revived from the ashes. Andrea Agnelli has continued our tradition as a club, overseen our rise back to the top table where our seat remained warm. We are financially sound, our squad is improving year on year, and the potential found in our current squad is incredibly promising. This is a wondrous time to be a juventino.

forza juve



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  • Avatar
    Garninho September 22, 2016 at 5:26 pm

    I like

  • Avatar
    Dar Black September 22, 2016 at 9:45 pm

    Indeed, we can all breath again GP. Playing Pjanic upfield must be done, and try to limit the amount of running back that Dybala has to do. He should not have to come back and dig the ball out. The midfield should be giving it to him.

    Some other things:
    * How the hell do the club mark a game as a sellout? This game was supposedly as per a communication on the J website. But there were thousands of empty seats.

    * Club have posted end of year financial results, and very good they are to. A 4 million euro profit, and that excludes the Pogba sale as far as I can tell. Next financial year is stated as also being a likely profit too because of the transfer income of Pogba. So full year revenue is 388 mil euros, up 40 mil on last year. Which is not too shabby.

    • thegutterpoet
      thegutterpoet September 22, 2016 at 11:16 pm

      Indeed, comrade, I was going to include the financial news of late, which is very promising indeed and further confirmation of the club being run superbly. However, when I read of the numbers I was reminded of my chitchat with the Stockport lad here in the office and the waltz with the vodka vixen in the darkness led me to a more passionate outburst than simply playing the accountant…

      • Avatar
        Dar Black September 22, 2016 at 11:57 pm

        I don’t blame you – as a failed accountant in a previous life I can say financial matters can be dull anyway…

        Having only seen the highlights on web I have not seen the midfield play in detail from the match, and taking into account who the opponent was, but I had this crazy thought: is the problem Sami K? When he is playing does he force a certain kind of buildup or strategy that is not as effective unless Marchisio is playing with him? Because I actually have a warmer feeling about last nights trio than I have with the other permutations which include Sami, and do seem to force an awkward / unbalanced / misshapen / clumsy (take your pick) midfield.

        I am not saying SK is anything but a top class player, but last nights formation with Lemina freed by Hernanes of having to play as defensively seemed to work very well. I know Hernanes has had some bad nights, but maybe this is his ideal role – letting Lemina and Pjanic open up more. Maybe Sami K playing forces Mario into a role he is not good at, and only when Marchisio is sitting in with Sami does he work out?

        Crazy thoughts I know, but was it coincidence that his absence seemed to make a big improvement in the middle of the park?

      • Avatar
        ho Hi September 23, 2016 at 4:38 am

        You always remind of the teachers guy in Wake in Fright.

  • Avatar
    Jas September 23, 2016 at 12:25 pm

    Rugani was in beast mode folks! So happy he finally got a start and what a compensation for his efforts huh? The game was dominated throughout and I think I see Allegris philosophy. When there is no pressure on team, they seem to outperform. When there is a pressure to win, they dont really play too well. I guess thats not too bad of a thing now at days as we are getting results. Lots of positives to take away, Lemina played pretty good once again. We are still missing a defensive midfielder as no one seems to be up for the task.

    • thegutterpoet
      thegutterpoet September 23, 2016 at 12:36 pm

      Well Jas, you are basically saying, that the team struggles presently against tough opponents, and dispenses with the rest with ease. Not that Allegri chooses this stance.

      Yes I agree we require a proper DM. Marchisio can hopefully return to his former greatness which is well beyond merely competent in the role, yet Witsel would have been perfect and I hope he is brought into the fold come January.

      As I was banging on about previously…Pjanic can be a classy deep lying playmaker, yet not if positioned as the DM/Regista. He requires a ma nearby to cover that role, to set him free in deep positions, allowing him to roam and move high up the field, pick out a pass or get on the end of other moves…

      • Avatar
        Jas September 23, 2016 at 1:08 pm

        I wouldn’t say against tough opponents, I think the team struggles when there is too many expectations. We have world class players but I don’t think we have a world class squad just yet. There are still some positions lacking world class talent, I don’t think Lemina, Lichstenier or Dybala are world class, Paolo will be no doubt but not yet in my opinion. When the team is relaxed it seems we play better, some teams seem to strive under pressure, Juventus doesn’t seem to be one of them. We made the C.L finals by being underdogs against pretty much everyone we faced. The next step in Juve’s development is top of the food chain, only a handfull of clubs have achieved such feat in the present. I think only Barca, Real, Bayern stand out, the rest are all on and off teams including Juventus.

        On the DM issues, it seems that either no one wants to play or it or no one is capable yet. I agree we do need Claudio back! We have too many attack minded midfielders, but perhaps this is where Sturaro will sine if we can give him some playing minutes ey?

        I know Pjanic like the back of my shirt as I’ve watched every Bosnian national team game for almost two decades now. Miralem is one hell of a play-maker, his touch on the ball is only matched by the elite Barcelona midfield of a few years back. A free-kick specialist and overall a very good teammate but one thing he does not do well is defend. For starters, his physique is just so tiny he gets pushed off the ball very easily, sucks to admit that the further up the pitch you actually play him, the more effective he is. My ideal line up would see sturaro as a DM untill Marchisio comes back, pjanic in Dybala’s position and Paolo way higher up the pitch where is more effective.

        Side note – did you see Man U sent scouts to look at Kastanos, apparently he is a very hot topic of discussion :). I am telling you man, this is the most talented primavera ever! Kean has also been in beast mode.

        • thegutterpoet
          thegutterpoet September 24, 2016 at 12:58 am

          I keep hearing my mate’s 10 year old son use that phrase…’beast mode’…which I think is intended to mean ‘exceptionally driven and powerful’? An x player at my beloved gills had some commercial routine associated with the term…

          Big Ade was never the most mobile lad, yet was potent as a target man, shame we let him go. We have missed his physical presence ever since…

          I will leave the talk of the young’uns alone and stick with my Generation Old Man lexicon.

          Kean has been playing well enough, leading the line as expected, was prolific pre-season and has now scored three from three. He was in fine form against Citadella yesterday in the 2-1 win. Macek set him up for a lovely header. Leris also got his first official goal for the club.

          Yes yes, Jas…we were close to winning every tournament we entered last term (UEFA youth league aside). Finals of the coppa italia, the championship and finishing first in the league stage, picking up the Viareggio. Clearly we had a good squad. This present U19 may be filled with lesser known players but the talent is there. Might be a bit too soon for Caligara to make the step up to the U19s yet he will be given more chances undoubtedly; he plays with Kean for the Italy U17s…Leris, Rogerio, Vogliaco, Del Favero, Toure, Macek and Bove have all had solid starts to the campaign.

          Kastanos has been scouted by other big clubs since the time we signed him. He is presently suffering a minor injury and so missed the Cittadella tie. For any player to make their debut for their national side at 17 (March 2015) will raise some eyebrows, and then to play most the match against Belgium recently was bound to lead to some tabloid nonsense.

          The fact that we have kept him at the club as opposed to loaning him out this Summer confirms to me that he is ear-marked for a possible future senior squad berth, given after this season he will have served the three years home grown in house ruling (even though those rules have been far more malleable than first assumed!).

          As for the senior side, by tough, I meant more gritty and determined, hounding us on the ball. We are vulnerable to such opponents as we have no settled first XI, not even a settled system, so if we are pressed hard, we falter. If we have not scored a couple of goals first…

          I was chatting to a Croatian pal of late, after my studies of US led interventions since WWII had covered Yugoslavia in the 90s…Siki, a former Croatian solider yet now a delivery man for archiving services here in Melbourne, has always struck me as extremely straight, hard drinking, a good, solid man. He was passionate and surprised to find any Westerner with a semblance of the reality he lived, given the extreme propaganda disseminated during and since, to his own people not just the West.

          He explained how he grew up with no cares, no hatred of muslims or christians or bosnians or Serbs or Albanians. In fact he explained that they all lived side by side, no problem…his family might make a playful joke if he dated someone from outside his village or of a different religion, yet it was nothing malicious whatsoever. And as for the government…close to socialist, no debt to foreign banks, and the place worked. Low unemployment, low crime, good health care and education, secular…pray to who you want. And then, the US began meddling, began pouring many millions into fomenting social unrest, first by financial support then by ensuring the supply of arms and offering certain confidences of support if certain groups rose up against others…the CIA have openly admitted since that this was exactly what they were doing there.Hundreds of millions of $$$ to cause civil unrest and ultimately war, and then the balkanisation of the region. As the Western War Machine and its banking cartel cannot allow any nation of any strategic importance to be independent….Which has been proven with Iraq, with Syria, with Libya, whilst Iran, China and Russia remain on the ‘To do’ list.

          It was a refreshing conversation…educational from a man who had lived his childhood and adolescence through a joyful and united Yugoslavia, then watched it become carved up by Western Powers. Immensely proud…not of being Croatian, but of being Yugoslavian. He couldn’t help but laugh as he asked me if I had come across Camp Bondsteel…adding…
          ‘Danny….come now…Kosovo?…the US created a conflict to destroy a vibrant, very multi cultural, socialist group of nations, then created a huge military base right on the doorstep of Europe…to protect who? The Kosovans???hohohoho…don’t make me laugh…’

          I thought you might be interested in my delvings, Jas, since you come from the former Yugoslavia…I just assume you are younger than old man Siki (in his 50s) and will perhaps have a different story to tell…

          • Avatar
            Jas September 24, 2016 at 7:40 pm

            Well my friend, the second part of the post is very interesting. I am not sure how old you are but i am 28, so i have first hand experience in the fall of Yugoslavia. This is a conversation for a more private setting since we are discussing football. But my craving for intellectual discussions has no boundaries as I am really surrounded by uninformed individuals, America is a melting pot but one that lacks any sort of insight of the actual events taking place around the world. A military industrial complex that is constantly looking for state enemies in order to fund such large military as well as policy directives. I was born in Yugoslavia, I am no nationalist if anything I despise the word with great passion as I’ve heard it so many times throughout my life. The idea was beautiful but ultimately politics put enough fear in to peoples minds that it all came crumbling down. In the words of my father was born a muslim but openly admits that for most of his life he didn’t believe in anything but Yugoslavia. “I never thought in a milion years that it would fall and that such bloody wars would be result” blahh I can go on for ages my friend!! add me on facebook “jasmin Muminovic”