Another controversial Derby della Mole ends in a Juve victory

Posted by Mina Rzouki

For the second time this season, Juventus beat Torino 1-0, but both victories have come via controversial circumstances. Whilst it was an offside goal last September that infuriated the home team, this time around Toro had a legitimate penalty appeal waved off. For much of the match the Old Lady may have proved superior, but their inability to close off the game quickly left them desperately defending until the final whistle.

Juventus started the match by displaying their strength and ability to possess the ball. Giampiero Ventura’s side, as we have come to expect from them in the big games, opted to sit deep, close down the spaces at the back and limit the chances offered to their opponents. By absorbing the pressure, they then awaited the opportunity to counter-attack or deliver a long ball to the likes of Alessio Cerci upfront in hopes of grabbing a vital goal.

These particular tactics made it somewhat dull, in a match that should have set pulses racing considering the attacking football both teams are capable of playing.

Juventus played their usual three men in midfield, but this time it was Arturo Vidal who was played on the left alongside Kwadwo Asamoah, whilst Paul Pogba sat on the other side, on the right. Predictably effective and fluid, they controlled the game without exerting too much energy, something one expects from a side forced to play every three days. The legs were heavy, the determination still there but the usual pizazz a little muted. Juve continued to play the way they know how, delivering those vertical balls through the middle in hopes of piercing their way through.

However, despite the fact Torino defended in numbers, they committed several errors to facilitate Juve’s route to goal. It was surprising how often the visitors conceded free-kicks in dangerous areas of the pitch, whilst they granted the likes of Carlos Tevez so much time on the ball to penetrate their overcrowded defence. Once they did manage to reclaim possession, they didn’t act fast enough or seem to have clear ideas going forward and thus allowed Juve the opportunity to quickly rearrange themselves defensively.

The Bianconeri by contrast, did an excellent job in halting the kind of danger their opponents can cause and made sure the ball was delivered to the forwards as opposed to forcing them to drop back and pick it up. Everything was done to avoid a Toro counter-attack and Juve did an excellent job in ensuring Cerci and Ciro Immobile received minimal service to impact the game.

It comes as no surprise that the man to score Juve’s goal is the best at roaming between the lines -- Torino’s greatest weakness. Tevez is the antidote to solid defending and the manner in which he turned and struck dazzled the most neutral of neutrals.

The early part of the second half went much the way it did in the first 45 minutes with Juventus controlling proceedings but that soon changed. Lulling the Old Lady into a false sense of security, Ventura’s men then raised their level of play and went on the attack with Giuseppe Vives taking more control of the game after the 65th minute.

The Bianconeri, tired from their European exploits midweek, were eventually forced to sit deep and defend; incapable of producing the energy required to mount an attack of their own. Conte went so far as to bolster the midfield and Juventus adopted a 5-4-1 shape. Thankfully, their defensive work proved good enough to preserve their 1-0 lead but they were lucky to get away without conceding a penalty. Replays show Pirlo clipped Omar El Kaddouri.

After a shaky defensive performance in recent games, and with the second half of the Verona game still haunting them, Juve did just enough to ensure all three points and earn their bragging rights.

Sadly the yellow card Vidal received means he will miss next week’s match against Milan and when Conte was asked about the problems the team may face without him, the coach quickly replied that what worries him more is the little time the squad will have to recover from their Europa League trip to Turkey. Juventus will only arrive back in Turin on Friday morning and will have to take on the Rossoneri on Sunday evening in San Siro. They will be exhausted to say the least.

Forced to rotate the squad, Juventus cannot afford to allow Trabzonspor the opportunity to show off their skills considering they will be playing at home, whilst a magnificent performance against Clarence Seedorf’s team is vital to ensure Juve keep up the pace and maintain the advantage over Roma. It’s an exhausting time for Italy’s champions.

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