Match Review Serie A

Juventus 2-1 Udinese Match Report

October 16, 2016 - 10:29 am

Those cursing the international break were to be proved right in their concerns, for after the travels, matches played in foreign lands and departure from what was developing into a steadily blossoming domestic momentum, Juve returned to the haphazard, error prone form of earlier this season.

There were other mitigating factors such as the decision to rest key players for the upcoming european tie against Lyon and also the change in formation to a skewed 4-4-2. Explanations aside, let me move briefly onto outlining the flow of the match and swiftly towards the player ratings.

We began with a spring in our step, which lasted all of five minutes. Del Neri had set his new side out to adopt a high press, which is the most obvious way to cause us trouble yet cannot often be sustained for 90 minutes meaning the opponent must make their period of hounding us on every ball count.

The game seemed even, end to end in a enjoyable for the neutral manner, with Juve misplacing passes and signs of that horrid sickness resurfacing wherein the players take turns to lose the ball with schoolboy errors. However it was to the home side where a couple of chances materialised, with Dybala and Hernanes  both going close before Mandzukic missed a gilt edged opportunity from 8 yards out with the goal gaping. Admittedly he was under pressure, but for a man of his physical prowess, he should of scored.

On 30′ the lively visitors charged forward, found Hernanes unable to trap and control the ball, which set up Jankto to smash a fair effort towards goal. The ball blasted through Buffon for a fair 0-1 lead with half hour played. It should have been saved or parried.

Barely a serious fight-back was noted thereafter, but Dybala magically pulled us level before half time with a majestic free kick sent high into the net from 20 yards out. Delightful execution.

We emerged from the dug-out after the break with a semblance of increased determination, and began to take the game to Udinese. The biggest reason for the change in the flow of the game – for we began to close to dominate – was that Allegri has dispensed with the failing 4-4-2 and reverted to the 3-5-2, most importantly offering the right flank to Lichsteiner. With balance returned to the side we looked a different team.

Barzagli - One of a small handful of players in black and white to emerge from the first half with his pride intact.

Barzagli – One of a small handful of players in black and white to emerge from the first half with his pride intact.

Cuadrado did what he does best, when horribly spooning after finding himself put through on goal, and it was the the much improved Sandro who soon after won the penalty in the 50th minute with a neat piece of ball control tricking the defender into making the foul. Dybala calmly finished for his 4th goal in the last 3 games.

Lichsteiner produced a brilliant cross for Sandro to inexplicably nod wide, when it looked easier to score. After which, the game seemed strangely in the balance yet again, and as time wore on, the ascendency was ceded to Udinese, who took up the challenge.

We suffered in the final 10-15 minutes and in the end appeared far closer to clinging on than triumphantly confirming a resounding and warranted victory.

Our individual quality won the tie, not our team performance.

Buffon  – Very much at fault for the opening goal which was well within his grasp and should have been saved. That is two major errors in succession of games played. However, he produced two fine saves later in the game and hopefully these recent mistakes have been an anomaly. 6

Barzagli- Was far busier than he had hoped for and yet showed decent pace and made some important tackles. 6.5

Benatia – Still finding his feet and rusty after his recent injury lay-off. Displayed decent distribution. 6

Lichsteiner – Fielding Cuadrado in the RW role curtails the offensive zeal of Stephan, who looked in good form, sharp and eager to join the fray higher up the field. He wasted a decent chance when attacking the goal from the flank and was unlucky not to earn an assist with a gorgeous ball to Sandro, other than which he looked much happier in the 2nd half when given licence to attack alongside sole responsibility for defending the wide right area. 6.5

Evra – Rarely involved in the first half other than when seen stupidly pushing the wall in the build up to Dybala’s sublime equaliser. Grew in stature as the game wore on and made a smart and important clearance in the box late on. 6

Hernanes – His failure to control what appeared to be a swift yet simple pass led directly to the first goal of the match. Other than which he tried to keep the ball moving but was let down by Lemina and Sandro failing to find useful positions or make the most of opportunities when they did get the ball. Improved in the second half after we returned to 3-5-2. 6

Lemina - Much to learn.

Lemina – Much to learn.

Lemina– One of his poorest showing in our colours. Did little to nothing in either the defensive or offensive phases of the game, completely failed to make his presence felt and remains, by my reckoning, well off the level required to compete with the elite. 4

Sandro – Fairly anonymous in the first half yet a return to his favoured LWB role in a 3-5-2 led to the goal and other chances. He seems better with space to run into than participating in moves high up the field in an orthodox LW or LM role. 6

Cuadrado – He was abject in the first half and only valuable in the second due to finding himself out of the play and tasked with making up the bodies centrally in a LCM position. His shooting was (and is close to always) pathetic, his passing far from competent, his dribbling useless. We carry him as a player far too often for my liking and I retain hope that the lengthy loan deal does not include an obligation to purchase, for he has always appeared and continues to appear, at very best, a squad player whose pace can unsettle opponents. He is an attacking player who cannot shoot and whose passing more often than not leaves a lot to be desired. Higher mark than Lemina, for his effort could not be faulted. 4.5

Mandzukic – Yes yes! We all hoped he had regained his confidence and goal scoring touch after hitting four in two matches during the international break. However, 3 of those came against Kosovo, a ‘country’ of less than 2 million people, created mainly to somehow legitimise the US backed balkanisation of Yugoslavia and the installation of a mega US military base at Camp BondSteel. The other came against the footballing powerhouse known as Finland. Still, goals are goals, and yet…he was close to wretched in this encounter. One wayward header and a miss from close range with the goal at his mercy pretty much summed up his evening. A couple of smart lay-offs aside, this was another performance which made me miss Zaza. It must be stated however, that we are rarely playing to his strengths, despite the focus on width, for he is tasked mainly with linking the play, often with his back to goal. 5.5

Dybala – Along with Barzagli, he was the only player to emerge from the first half with his pride intact. An early chance dragged wide, constant foraging to try spark his side into life and a stunning free kick to draw the sides level. He eased up a little (thankfully) in the second half after scoring the penalty with a clinical finish. Confidence is growing, the goals ares flowing, and his place in Juve history seems ever more assured.8


Allegri’s decision to rest Higuian, Bonucci, Pjanic and Alves was always going to affect our performance, whilst playing with two LWBs and two naturally adventurous right sided players gave the team a problem in controlling the central midfield areas. Add to this the inability of Sandro – in the first half especially – to impose himself, and the shambolic nature of much of Cuadrado’s ‘work’ and it is simple to understand why we struggled. Lemina and Hernanes had a bad night, with the former barely offering anything of value. Yet in their defence…

…With the central midfield area leaving us constantly out-numbered, and our lack of penetration on the flanks, we were barely recognisable from the side from before the international break. 1-1 was a fair reflection of the first half. For Udinese were more spirited, better organised and they were carrying not one player. All were pulling in the right direction.

The Dybala free-kick obviously took the wind out their sails, but it was far more a case of reverting to 3-5-2, adding bodies centrally, creating gaps out wide to exploit, which turned the tide.

Yet again, we played quite poorly, but won. Udinese did well to create a handful of decent chances, but we created at least double the amount and should have won far more handsomely than by a single goal.

This was an experiment, an odd one really…for whilst I understand the option to rest players, before a key european tie, why the devil deploy a flat 4-4-2 for the first time this term? Chopping and changing personnel is one way to unsettle a side, adding in a change of formation further rocks the boat. So why do it? It was not as if Allegri was trialling a new 4-3-1-2 or 4-3- anything, instead we played the two players we use for LWB and two of the three players we use for RWB in the same starting XI. Leaving the inexperienced Lemina horribly exposed and Hernanes with far too much work to do alone.

Allegri continues to hedge his bets...and they remain...just enough.

Allegri continues to hedge his bets…and they remain…just enough.

Tactically, Alllegri got this wrong. At least before the break. After which he saw sense and rectified the most obvious of issues.

It was shameful to see us settling for a 2-1 victory with ten minutes to go, and literally inviting our opponents to attack us, pulling men deep and constantly giving the ball away. The complete absence of grinta and pride. We looked not just scared, but tired.

Given the changes made to the first XI and tactics, I can understand why we were disjointed and lethargic in the first half. What I cannot excuse or explain though is that mass hysteria that began rising to the surface once again, in which each player in turn makes mistake after mistake, even simple passes go wildly astray. Of all 11 players, only Barzagli and Dybala looked like professional footballers at the top of their game for the first 45 minutes. Not one other of their colleagues impressed, other than Lichsteiner in flashes. This is nowhere near enough to entertain aspirations of glory anywhere else but domestically.

With a sigh however, I must nod my head in begrudging homage towards the Steve Buscemi lookalike, for we won, created far more opportunities than our opponents, succumbed to no new injuries and were undone only by two players on the trot committing individual errors. Also worth noting, is that we were without Chiellini, Rugani and Pjaca, with Sturaro and Marchisio miles away from match sharpness. Kean and Mattiello were on the bench, simply to make up numbers and give us options we could not find in the seniors.

Not only was Il Principino back in the squad, but Luca Clemenza – for many moons one of the hottest prospects in the youth sector – made his return from a similar ACL injury suffered in the Viareggio last March, entering the fray in the second half of an 1-8 drubbing of Avellino for the primavera yesterday. Luca scored with a superb free kick before tucking away his second from the spot in the dying seconds.

Mattiello, who was on the bench, is another returning from serious injury. Firstly finding himself in agony courtesy of the aggression and steel legs of spite merchant Radja Nainggolan who crunched his shin in a sickening collision in early 2015, then breaking the same leg last October whilst on loan at Verona.

Welcome back ragazzi…

I would have preferred a resounding victory, as I would have preferred to have seen us start with our strongest available first XI in effort to gain momentum before the crunch tie with Lyon. I am not an advocate of resting players at this stage of the season, unless they need rest. For cohesion comes from playing together regularly, the same shape, the same players. Without which, our form will remain volatile.

Despite my grumbles, and the bothersome fear factor seeping into our play late on, we never looked liked losing, have extended our lead at the top of the Serie A table and head to France with several of our key players well rested.

Forza Juve

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  • Avatar
    BelgianJuventino October 16, 2016 at 11:18 am

    I agree with the whole report. Fortunately Dybala’s individual skill carried the team to a win.

    Also happy that Sturaro returned to the field, even if it was just a brief appearance.

    As I also stated in the preview article, I am so very fed up with Mandzukic. There is just nothing remarkable about his game. The two things he is supposed to be good at – holding up the ball and headers – were both completely absent.

    Hernanes remains a shaky player I guess, he did so well so far when he played and now this. Still, I hold him in higher regard than I used to. As soon as Marchisio is good to go, he will be on the bench again anyway.

    As for Cuadrado.. useless. Its all there is to say about him. Should only be used for weak teams, if at all. Dribbling skills are absent, his crossing is poor, he took balls himself when he should have let them go on to Higuain to finish them…
    But yes, he is speedy…

    Most players were rather bad, but we got the points and that is what matters. On to Lyon!

    • thegutterpoet
      thegutterpoet October 16, 2016 at 11:27 am

      I feel that Hernanes should be judged on not just his mistake, but his overall game, and he was one of two in central midfield. He kept himself honest as the forest, tried and tried, failed often, but maintained effort. As for Lemina…he did nothing. Gave little. And I remain very much further away from singing his praises than others.

      • Avatar
        BelgianJuventino October 16, 2016 at 11:31 am

        Oh yes, I do agree mate, its just that this type of errors is what makes Juventini dislike him so much. Even though Buffon was just as much to blame for the goal, Hernanes takes the blame.

        He wasnt bad or worse than any other, but that one error is what we will remember.

        Lemina was nothing special, but no blatant errors either. A Padoin performance!

        • thegutterpoet
          thegutterpoet October 16, 2016 at 11:34 am

          You are right, mate!…I meant to assert solely that at lest Hernanes tried, gave his all, and was let down tremendously by Lemina.

        • Avatar
          Dar Black October 16, 2016 at 5:30 pm

          It’s easier to criticise someone though BJ who does something and fluffs it than someone who does nothing. Sometimes those that do little or nothing get through life alive, whilst the ‘doers’ get burned at the stake. I know that from work colleagues! Lemina may be one of those type too scared to take the initiative. Never sticks his neck above the bunker, but then never gets overly slated either.

          And are we not all guilty at times for having a pop at the person who missed the ‘sitter’ rather than the other person who was nowhere to be seen. I know I am….

          • Avatar
            BelgianJuventino October 16, 2016 at 6:49 pm

            Yeah I agree mate, Lemina was nowhere to be seen, I just didnt really single him out so far. I dont intend to say he did better than Hernanes, because he didnt.

            The main thing for me was that Hernanes has been good to great so far and now had one error that people will remember.

            Lemina did nothing, not positive or negative, which in the end is also negative. We have no use for that.

            Personally I am most annoyed about Mandzukic, I had hoped he would do great this game but no, nothing again..

            Even the ball looked to bounce away from him with any chance it got.

          • Avatar
            Dar Black October 16, 2016 at 9:04 pm

            Re Mandzu, we may get Zaza back. Not exactly setting the EPL on fire ….

          • Avatar
            BelgianJuventino October 16, 2016 at 9:14 pm

            Not saying Zaza is a world beater, but I like him better (minus the rash tackles)

        • thegutterpoet
          thegutterpoet October 17, 2016 at 12:29 am

          Padoin does the simple things very well, and he always made is presence felt. This is an area where Lemina fails…by my reckoning at least! He wants the ball and to charge forward, which is good if he has support and defenders are occupied elsewhere, but when the going gets tough he makes mistakes too easily and his game comes to appear rather singular. At least with Padoin he could be relied upon to stand firm in any position, no flair or magic, but solid. I cannot yet say the same of Lemina…

          • Avatar
            BelgianJuventino October 17, 2016 at 8:08 am

            Was Lemina that bad that even simple horizontal passes went wrong? I didn’t see much of him in all honesty. My stream was so blurry, it was like watching pixelated lego’s

          • thegutterpoet
            thegutterpoet October 17, 2016 at 9:52 am

            It was not so much his mistakes, which many were guilty of, mate…it was more his inability to provide even a presence, and when playing two in CM, if one does not show, we lose the midfield. Thankfully our individual quality shone through, and Udinese will be fine, their position in the table is false.

            I have had this issue even with Marchisio in the past, for the CMs must show. Even if they make mistakes, such as Hernanes made a few, he still kept going, kept looking for the ball, trying to make something happen. I feel that when Lemina plays poorly, he is carried by the team, and goes long periods close to absent. We remain trying to find his best role, but he is stronger as an attacking CM in a middle three. With far less defensive duty.

    • Avatar
      elisadallomo October 17, 2016 at 1:18 pm

      Now, I’ll preface this by saying I adore Mandzukic and the type of attacker he is (I’ve always loved tall and strong attackers)….. BUT….. the way the team played yesterday didn’t suit him at all. Not saying we should change to accommodate him, but it’s a factor that has to be considered. However, I see us more playing for the Dybalas and the Higuaíns (players that can singularly create their own scoring opportunities, regardless of how the team plays)… and it’s a trend I’ve been seeing for a while now…. which means that I also don’t understand why we keep getting the Llorentes and Marios instead of the Zazas and the Moratas. What’s the point of having a tall attacker who’s strong with his head if you’re not gonna cross the heck out of that ball??

      • Avatar
        Dar Black October 17, 2016 at 3:03 pm

        With our wingback attacking play being so prominent at times goals from big target men should be freely coming, but you are right they don’t for some reason. It’s strange. I always prefer players that can make things happen themselves, rather than those always at the end of something that others have made happen.

        • Avatar
          elisadallomo October 17, 2016 at 3:36 pm

          In my opinion, it’s the crosses. Our wings either can’t cross very well, or don’t do as many airborne crosses as they could. It’s not just the crosses from our wingers, it’s also the corners… goals from corners are so very few now that I don’t see them as an advantage anymore. Why the heck aren’t we scoring from corners? It’s not new, either. I think the last time corners posed a threat was when Pirlo took them, and it’s more of a testament to his genius than to our new takers’ lack thereof.

          Things Maldini can handle: everything. So, yea, I see your point. (Fun fact: Maldini is the only one of my favorite players ever who never played for Juve.. thankfully, we got Pirlo before he retired).

  • Avatar
    Jas October 17, 2016 at 2:45 pm

    Mandzukic brings absolutely nothing to the team anymore. If anything he slows the game down and wastes numerous chances in front of the goal. Its a shame Pjaca is injured because I’d throw him in the mix right now. Lemina still lacks an identity I think, not really sure were to even play him anymore but he has to improve the defensive side of his game. We sort of seem short on attack at the moment, Pjaca is injured, Mandzukic is absolute sh** so really there is only Dybala and Higguain. Given Allegris overly cautious stance on young players. I doubt even gets a debut this season, just my opinion but I cant see it happening. Granted Rugani barely gets any playing time even with all the injuries at the back. Betancur will join us in the next transfer window and that is a sight of relief. He is a defensive specialist, a sort of Vidal in his early days. This is exactly what we need, given not one of our middfielers is better than average when defending at the moment.

    • thegutterpoet
      thegutterpoet October 17, 2016 at 10:13 pm

      Hola Jas…I believe you are being a little harsh on poor Mandzukic, as we are not playing to his strengths by any measure, although yes…he does seem somehow different this season than last. Pjaca should return soon, but I agree with the idea of including Kean on the bench. A wild card but to only have an out of form, laborious and slothful Mandzukic to call upon is not enough. The ideal was for Pjaca to deputize for Dybala and Mandzukic to deputize for Higuain.

      The worst that can happen to find kean rubbing shoulders with the big boys is that he trains with the seniors and learns a few tricks and feels closer to the club…win, win, by all accounts.

      In terms of Bentancur…he is far closer to a Pirlo-esque deep lying midfielder, although more often plays higher up in central midfield. Lovely distribution and ball control coupled with vision and fair pace. From what I have seen of him and learned through other sources he seems a little like Riquelme…Gago…even shades of Pirlo, though as mentioned he is fine and dandy deployed a little higher up the field. Essentially his talents seem very much focused on offensive zeal, though his ability to read and intercept seems okay.

      Another South American whom I have long admired and retained hope to see one day in black and white, Gabriel Appelt, has been performing very well indeed for Leganes in La Liga. A combative, creative central midfielder who has always looked very tidy on the ball…Whilst we sold him outright in the Summer, we retained first option on his potential sale…a wise move I believe.

      But yes yes! Bentancur may well join the squad in January, add in Witsel, Marchisio and perhaps Mandragora (though he may go out on loan) and ouir central midfield is brilliantly bolstered.

  • Avatar
    Norse Wolf October 17, 2016 at 8:12 pm

    Allegri should dismiss Mandzukic when Higuain or Dybala isn’t available and take the ‘risk’ of putting on Kean. Kean can’t perform worse than Mario, the outcome of starting/or substituting in Kean (instead of Mario) would be (1) that he plays mario-ish, (2) that he plays well or (3) that he plays very good and scores.

    Conclusion: Why not use Kean instead of Mandzukic? Juve have nothing to lose in this context.

    • Avatar
      elisadallomo October 18, 2016 at 1:37 pm

      Kean is 16.. I don’t think he’s ready to play certain games. I don’t care how “mature” a 16 year old is, he’s still 16 years old. If he does a good job, it’ll go to his head… if he does a bad job, it’ll go to his head. It’s unnecessary pressure and an unnecessary risk.

      Remember how everyone was like “play Rugani! Play Rugani! Play Rugani!” last year… and when Allegri finally played him he didn’t do a great job on that first game and everyone was like “don’t play Rugani!”? Same with Dybala. “Play Dybala! Play Dybala!”… Paulo doesn’t score on his first game…. “you can’t play Dybala over Morata, what are you doing?!”. A teenager can’t handle that pressure.

      …… but this is all only my opinion and I’m not Juve’s coach, thankfully. 😛

      • Avatar
        Norse Wolf October 18, 2016 at 1:56 pm

        Ofcourse I’m not saying he should play the big games as it would be far too risky. But playing against the minor teams in Serie A. Playing great against minor teams would raise his confidence but it wouldn’t (or shouldn’t get to his head. He is young and if he play bad games he knows that he has a long career infront of him.

        Well we don’t expect youngsters to do awesome in their first games or season, but why not try him out. If you look at many of the best players, they debuted when they were vey young.

        Some teenagers can tackle it and some don’t. You can’t have the mentality of holding someone back because of how they might react to a situation, Kean will only mature faster if it doesn’t goes his way.

        Indeed, it’s just one of our opinions. If the game goes well tonight I hope Kean get’s a few minutes:)

        • Avatar
          elisadallomo October 18, 2016 at 2:38 pm

          In general, you can’t play Kean vs. Mandzukic just out of principle.. but also because Kean doesn’t offer the same certainties Mandzo does – if only for his experience and personality. It isn’t the same as Pjaca, who is also young and has less experience than Mandzukic, but has played at a greater level than Kean. To me, Pjaca is a youngster we need to form in the first team… and we will. Kean being called up is circumstantial.. and it serves a bigger purpose: to tell the kid “we are watching you, we are interested, keep working”.

          Minor Serie A teams are still big games for Kean, who has only played against youth league teams. 16 year olds are weird… my youngest brother is 16… if he goes up against Crotone and does a terrible job, he’s not gonna think “it’s ok, I have a long career”… teens don’t usually think that way. They don’t usually think in long-term… uhh… terms. He won’t mature faster, he’ll mature badly. I don’t think it’s holding him back, it’s protecting him.

          However, only those closest to the player will know what’s best for him and his development… as well as what’s best for the club. I’ll cheer for him regardless.

          • Avatar
            Norse Wolf October 18, 2016 at 3:00 pm

            What certainties Kean offers we don’t know yet. Yes he only has primavera experience, but who knows what he will bring forth.. His confidence won’t crash ( in a good or bad way) for mere minutes on the pitch, teenager or not. Pjaca is a winger/attacking midfielder, so it depends on the match which of the two (Pjaca, Kean) who could be used. I understand what you mean, but what is wrong with giving Kean a chance of 5-10 min every other game or once a month? This would be a good way to bring about a conclusion for his pro’s and cons, so Allegri could decide when and how to use him in future games – or if he simply should return to primavera. He’s stats are great, so there should be no doubts of giving him a few chances in some games.

            Well well, it’s Allegri’s choice;)

          • Avatar
            elisadallomo October 18, 2016 at 3:33 pm

            Because I don’t think you develop a 16-year-old player by giving him 5-10 mins every other game or once a month. I mean, Raiola is there waiting for us to make oneeee little mistake so he can ship him elsewhere for lots of $$…….. XD