Juventus 1 – 1 Sampdoria
Evra 12 (J), Gabbiadini 51 (S)
Serie A – Week 15 [14th December 2014 – 11:30 UK ] – Juventus Stadium
In Sunday’s lunch match, Juventus got their 25-game winning streak at home halted by the combative Sampdoria and their lead in the standings chopped to a single point, as Roma defeated Genoa at Marassi. A disappointing result, especially considering the impressive performance in the first half, where Juventus were dominating and the exact opposite of the spiritless outing in Florence.
Massimiliano Allegri opted for 4-3-1-2 with Roberto Pereyra behind Carlos Tevez and Alvaro Morata, Patrice Evra at left-back, Angelo Ogbonna filling in for the suspended Giorgio Chiellini in the middle of the defense and Andrea Pirlo on the bench. Sinisa Mihajlovic chose 4-3-1-2, with Nenad Krsticic, and not Roberto Soriano, behind the two strikers. The Serbian midfielder was used as a tactical CAM as he had the task of annoying Claudio Marchisio (maybe Mihajlovic was expecting Andrea Pirlo to start?), but the move didn’t pay off: Krsticic was anonymous and Marchisio had a good day distributing the ball.
Juventus got off to a great start and put immediately the goal defended by Sergio Romero under siege, trying to take advantage of Sampdoria’s psychological burdens (they haven’t been good on the road so far). Juventus benefited greatly from the dynamism of Pereyra, who was used as can opener: he was free to move between the lines and picks his spots to hurt Sampdoria the most. Morata was also very sharp and mobile early. The pressing was suffocating and the goal arrived after 12 minutes thanks to an unlikely header by Evra on a corner kick (his angry celebrations was hilarious: he sprinted back to the bench to argue with a fan that criticized him in the previous weeks).
Juventus continued to attack and had some tasty chances to put the game to sleep, but failed. Unfortunately, as it often happens in Serie A, you are punished when you don’t take full advantage of the opportunities. The script of the game changed at around the 30-minute mark: Mihajlovic switched to 4-5-1, with Luca Rizzo on the right, Eder on the left and Krsticic in the middle of the field. It was a far-fetched solution (that lasted only for a quarter of hour, since Manolo Gabbiadini was subbed in at half time for Krsticic), but it worked as they were able to clog the flanks, which had been great sources of good plays until that point for Juventus. Juventus tried to counter with long phases of possessions, the trademark of Allegri’s style (which made Milan fans mad after three years of inconclusiveness), but never managed to regain the same dangerousness of the first minutes.
Gabbiadini (why are we giving up on him?) struck few minutes after entering the game: he eluded Evra’s marking on a quick counter and beat Gianluigi Buffon with beautiful curled shot. Juventus reacted and fabricated some chances, but not great ones. Gabbiadini had the best opportunity to score with another nifty shot, but Buffon delivered a fantastic one-handed save. Juventus had some half-chances and could have exploited better two headers by Arturo Vidal.
Allegri was unable to respond to Mihajlovic’s adjustment: once the fullbacks were neutralized and Pereyra no longer had so much room to move, Juventus kept pushing in the middle, but Sampdoria were ordinate and Tevez & co. didn’t find the right opening. The substitutions didn’t have an impact on the game and were standard: Fernando Llorente for Morata, Kingsley Coman for Pereyra and Sebastian Giovinco for Tevez (with only few minutes to go). Allegri could have been a little more daring: Vidal isn’t in peak condition, he needs to play to regain it, but in must-score situations, it could be helpful to have a more offensive player on the pitch (and Pereyra can easily move back in the midfield). Moreover, the squad could have definitely used some minutes of Andrea Pirlo’s playmaking skills when they were preparing the final assault. Today wasn’t Carlos Tevez’s day and maybe he could have been subbed off earlier.
As for the positives, Buffon was fantastic and solved a couple of tricky situations by rushing out of the goal. I enjoyed a lot the old-school, no holds barred physical duel between Angelo Ogbonna and Stefano Okaka. Considering the way Okaka has been bullying defenders recently, Ogbonna had a very good game and held his own: the absence of Chiellini wasn’t felt too much. Evra was both a blessing and a curse: he had a good game offensively and even scored, but he failed to contain Gabbiadini. Morata had a good start but slowly faded.
Juventus will have a chance to bounce back in a very unusual Thursday night game against Cagliari, before leaving for Doha, where they’ll square off against Napoli in the Italian Super Cup on December 22.
Man of the Match: Claudio Marchisio
Flop of the Match: Arturo Vidal
Pass Accuracy: 88%
Shots on Target: 8
Total Shots: 19
Ball Possession: 65%
Juventus: Buffon; Lichtsteiner, Bonucci, Ogbonna, Evra; Vidal, Marchisio, Pogba; Pereyra (Coman 78); Tevez (Giovinco 87), Morata (Llorente 71)
Sampdoria: Romero; Cacciatore, Gastaldello, Romagnoli, Regini; Rizzo, Palombo, Obiang (Duncan 83); Krsticic (Gabbiadini 46); Okaka (Bergessio 73), Eder
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