Palermo 0-1 Juventus
Scorers – Morata 70 (J)
Serie A – Week 27 [Saturday, 14th March – 17:00 GMT] – Stadio Renzo Barbera
Palermo have been a tricky team to face for Juventus in recent years. For nearly a decade, Palermo has achieved results versus Juventus that are far better when compared to results achieved by similar sized teams. Still, today they did not have enough to take out Juventus and Max Allegri. Allegri rotated the squad heavily, to rest his stars for the upcoming 2nd leg match versus Borussia Dortmund. Paul Pogba was suspended for this match, so he was rested by force.
Juventus started the match in a 3-5-2, with two old faces returning, and one new one. Paolo De Ceglie started at left wing back, Andrea Barzagli started at left wing back, and Stefano Sturaro debuted in midfield. Barzagli was rather good, his only bad play coming when he was outpaced by Paulo Dybala – which is understandable, Barzagli has never been fast and he is both old and freshly back from a long term injury – and he had to make a tactical foul on Dybala, earning a yellow card. A spectator with no knowledge of Barzagli probably would not have guessed that he was on his first start back after an injury, as he was as calm and skilled as he always has been for Juve.
De Ceglie and Sturaro had mixed games. Sturaro certainly showed a great amount of workrate, but he wasn’t very good in practice. He should improve in time, being young and being new to Juve. Meanwhile, De Ceglie was rather average. I suppose that can be taken as an encouraging thing, De Ceglie is already at his peak form, as he is a decidedly average player.
It was an interesting starting lineup, and Juve’s tactics were a bit surprising at the start of the game. Juventus stayed back and let Palermo attack, trying to counter. It was a simple tactical set up, but not one Juve often use, especially in Serie A. Possession has been the name of the game for a while, but recently Allegri has been taking advantage of the chemistry between Carlos Tevez and Alvaro Morata, and having the side play more directly.
Unfortunately, Morata did not start alongside Tevez, Fernando Llorente did. So Palermo would get into Juve’s half, then Juve would stop them and try to counter. There weren’t very many chances for a while, but Carlos Tevez nearly scored in the 18th minute from some distance. His effort forced Stefano Sorrentino to make a punching save, and would have caught other goalkeepers out.
Moments later, Fernando Llorente was passed a long ball at the edge of Palermo’s 18 yard box. He was instantly dispossessed and couldn’t outpace his man to get the ball or trouble the keeper. It was the type of play that Tevez or Morata pounce on, yet Llorente needs another player there to play off of. Coincidentally, half an hour later, Stephean Lichtsteiner cut in from the right side with the ball and tried to play a 1-2 with Llorente, but Llorente hesitated with his pass and Lichtsteiner was offside. He was also irate. Morata came on shortly after.
In the 54th minute Tevez forced another save on a free kick opportunity, but Sorrentino made a diving save. Once Morata came on, Juve’s attack, particularly the two strikers, were far more lively. Morata’s movement and ability to take defenders on really allows Tevez to move more freely and wreak havoc anywhere he wants. With Llorente, someone needs to be nearby, because Llorente can definitely hold the ball up, but he can’t necessarily do anything with it himself.
Roberto Pereyra nearly created a goal for Juve in the 68th minute, when he dribbled around three Palermo players, took the ball to the edge of the 18 yard box, and passed to Arturo Vidal. Vidal took a powerful shot but it was deflected.
Two minutes later, Claudio Marchisio sent Morata a long ball at the edge of the 18 yard box. Morata had two men on him, but he had a few inches of space. He pulled along to his left a bit, and fired a curving effort that sailed past Sorrentino into the upper right corner of the net. Morata, with a moment of individual brilliance, had given Juventus the lead. It was not unlike what Pogba did versus Sassuolo.
Juventus have not been winning in style lately, but they have been winning. A 1-0 victory means you got the job done, and Juventus have in their past two matches. Now, the big trip to Dortmund. This is the biggest game of Juve’s season – unless they win, then the next Champions League match is. Let’s hope they can bring home a victory.
Man of the Match: Alvaro Morata
Flop of the Match: De Ceglie
Pass Accuracy: 81%
Shots on Target: 3
Total Shots: 12
Ball Possession: 46%
Palermo: Sorrentino; Vitiello, Terzi, Andelkovic; Rispoli, Rigoni, Maresca (Jajalo 63), Barreto (Belotti 76), Daprelà (Emerson 83); Vazquez, Dybala
Juventus: Buffon; Barzagli, Bonucci, Chiellini; Lichtsteiner, Sturaro (Vidal 46), Marchisio, Pereyra, De Ceglie (Padoin 76); Tevez, Llorente (Morata 60)