Sassuolo 1-1 Juventus
Zaza 13 (S), Pogba 18 (J)
Serie A – Week 7 [18th October 2014] – Stadio Città del Tricolore
In a hard-fought Saturday night match, Juventus dropped two points on the road against Sassuolo. Roma defeated Chievo Verona earlier in the day, which means they have cut the gap to only one point. Sassuolo opted for 3-4-3 that only appeared to be more conservative but that in reality allowed them to match up better with the opponents. They didn’t sit back, also because they showed evident flaws when Juventus attacked with many men and, after the injury of Paolo Cannavaro, they really had a makeshift defense composed by Emanuele Terranova, Luca Antei and Francesco Acerbi, who anyway were able to hold their own, especially in the second half. Sassuolo’s most dangerous actions arrived when they increased the tempo, but they weren’t afraid to control the ball either. Simone Missiroli, a surprise starter, despite not being known for his defensive skill, helped Francesco Magnelli maintain the balance.
The match explodes immediately. After eleven minutes, Paul Pogba feeds Fernando Llorente with a precise cross, but the nifty deflection of the Spanish striker doesn’t catch Andrea Consigli off guard. On the rebound, Roberto Pereyra’s point-blank attempt is deviated over the bar. Two minutes later, a clever cut by Sime Vrsaljko behind Patrice Evra leads to chaos into the box, with Simone Zaza finding the back of the net with a delicate touch after that his first try was miraculously blocked by Leonardo Bonucci. Giorgio Chiellini and Evra gave too much room to the Italian international in that occasion.
Juventus quickly responded: at the 19th minute, Carlos Tevez hustles on the left side of the box, eluding Antei, and dishes a wide open Pogba on the edge of the box. The French midfielder scores his first season goal for Juventus with a sexy curly shot.
The teams catch a break for fifteen minutes, then Juventus raises the rhythm to try to gain the lead before half time. On a corner kick, Roberto Pereyra serves Angelo Ogbonna in the box, but his shot is high. Three minutes later, Andrea Pirlo finds Stephan Lichsteiner on a cut from the right flank, but his shot is too central and parried away by Consigli. Juventus have what turned out to be their biggest chance of the game at the 41st minute: with grace and power, Pogba cuts Sassuolo in a half with a majestic run from his own half, gliding past four opponents, but Consigli saves on the one on one. The goalkeeper also parries Tevez’s subsequent volley.
Juventus don’t seem as effective in the second half. Domenico Berardi comes close to scoring on a free kick at the 51st minute. Massimiliano Allegri tries to shake things up by inserting Claudio Marchisio for Patrice Evra and switching to a weird 4-4-2 with Ogbonna as LB and Pogba as LW. Few minutes later, Kingsley Coman replaces Llorente and Juventus opt for a more natural 4-3-3.
Juventus keep pushing but they are unable to create clear-cut chances. After 72 minutes, Coman frees himself with a nice move in the box, but his shoot is high. Juventus continue to attack, even if Sassuolo quickly strikes back with sudden counters. Simone Zaza, besides the goal, was very lively, like the rest of the trident. After 70 minutes, Eusebio Di Francesco starts to settle for the draw by replacing Nicola Sansone with Davide Biondini, deploying a more defensive 3-5-2.
With his last sub, Allegri inserts Sebastian Giovinco for Andrea Pirlo. Juventus’ pressure is constant, but Sassuolo are more ordinate and the attack of the Bianconeri seems to have to have lost the plot after the many substitutions and changes of scheme.
As Allegri indicated in the pre-game presser, not winning against Sassuolo would have been like wasting the success against Roma and unfortunately this is exactly what happened. Juventus played well in the first half against a feisty opponent, but were unable to pick up the rhythm and be dangerous in the second half.
Tevez and Pogba were Juventus’ best players tonight, with honorable mentions for Lichsteiner, Ogbonna and Pereyra. Evra, Pirlo and, to some extent, Chiellini and Llorente weren’t at their best tonight, even if it’s worth noting that none of them performed poorly.
There’s a lot of bitterness for this tie because, despite Sassuolo’s vivacity, the game could have been easily won, if it was managed better. Sassuolo aren’t accustomed to playing three-man defense and they lost their leader after few minutes. They were in disarray when Tevez, Pereyra and Pogba played between the lines, especially in the final third of the first half. Juventus should have probably insisted more on that in the second half.
Instead, Allegri quickly ditched 3-5-2 in favor of discombobulated tactics that looked improvised. Llorente isn’t going through a positive moment as he hasn’t scored for the ninth match in a row (not that he’s having many chances either…), but he always opens room for his teammates by keeping a couple of centre-backs busy. In 4-3-3, Tevez was the centre-forward and this limited him a lot since he had to be the reference point and couldn’t roam to find space in the attack, as he has usually done in this beginning of the season, with great success.
Inserting Coman, who showed today to be as raw as you’d expect an 18-year-old kid to be, instead of Giovinco, who’s been very good with Italy, is head-scratching. The Atomic Ant is in good form and, since it doesn’t happen very often, he should be used more.
The defense looked very unprotected today and it’s easy to pinpoint the reason: mr. balance Claudio Marchisio started on the bench and the defensive powerhouse Arturo Vidal was in Vinovo resting. A midfield composed by Pogba, Pirlo and Pereyra might work very well in a home game against a team that parks the buss, but not against an offensive-minded squad with quality and pacey attackers like Sassuolo. Moreover, Pirlo looked gassed in the second half and he should have been subbed off earlier.
|Man of the Match:||Paul Pogba
|Flop of the Match:||Fernando Llorente
||Pass Accuracy:||82%||Ball Possession:||65%|
|Fouls:||15||Shots on Target:||6||Formation:||3-5-2|
Sassuolo: Consigli; Terranova, Cannavaro (Antei 9), Acerbi; Vrsaljko, Magnanelli, Missiroli (Taider 79), Longhi; Berardi, Zaza, Sansone (Biondini 70)
Juventus: Buffon; Ogbonna, Bonucci, Chiellini; Lichtsteiner, Pogba, Pirlo (Giovinco 83), Pereyra, Evra (Marchisio 60); Llorente (Coman 67), Tevez