Juve win again as ten-man Udinese crumble

Posted by Mina Rzouki

The match between Udinese and Juventus may have started at 5pm but the competition between the two sides ended 12 minutes later. These days simply the name Juventus attracts controversy and lo and behold another controversial decision occurred to cue hysteria and more tabloid talk as Udinese goalkeeper Zeljko Brkic was harshly sent off and Juve were awarded a penalty.

The decision appeared harsh as it looked like defender Danilo had pushed Sebastian Giovinco into the goalkeeper, who looked bewildered as he clashed into the pint-sized attacker to reduce his side to ten men.

Last season the Old Lady complained incessantly at the lack of penalties awarded and it appears the Gods have responded. Two penalties awarded in two games. However, no one could disagree with the referee's decision. Whilst the red card may have been seen as harsh, the penalty was very clear and Arturo Vidal made no mistake this time around as he blasted the ball into the top corner.

For Udinese, going down to ten men effectively ended the competition, as Paolo Valeri is once again the man they accuse of ruining the game. Prior to this match, Valeri had overseen one win, five draws and two Udinese defeats. Sunday night's game has made it three defeats. It's safe to say the Zebrette aren't the man's biggest fans. "He ruins games and has done it to us before," exclaimed an angry Giampaolo Pozzo. "These are Serie A officials, why is it not possible for them to evaluate things correctly. A penalty was understandable, but why the red card?" Why indeed.

Diego Fabbrini was the man Francesco Guidolin decided to sacrifice thus preferring to depend on his hard workers than the creative youngster who had performed well up until that point. The home side had no option but to switch from a 3-5-1-1 to a 4-4-1 leaving Antonio Di Natale with no support.

As heads started to drop, Juventus took full control, enjoying 68% of possession throughout the game. With only ten men on the pitch, Guidolin's side opted to suffocate Juve's forward line as opposed to stifling the creativity from midfield. Andrea Pirlo, the architect of most of Juve's wins was allowed all the time in the world to dictate in midfield. Never effectively closed down, he had the space and time to pick out passes and deliver accurate balls to his forwards. With Udinese especially vulnerable to balls over the top, Pirlo regularly chose to exploit this weakness and allow the forwards an easy way through.

Even when Mirko Vucinic opted to drop deeper to collect the ball, he wasn't closed down. The home team concentrated only on surrounding and stifling the players who played furthest forwards, including Claudio Marchisio, who enjoyed pushing ahead to sit closer to the top. In fact, the midfielder acted as an additional forward for Juventus - enjoying as many shots on target as Sebastian Giovinco even if the Atomic Ant proved better at finishing.

Defensively, Juventus were barely tested but Leonardo Bonucci deserves a mention for his effective work at the back. Despite the occasional wrong decision, the centre-back continues to develop and impress. According to statistics taken from whoscored.com, the defender made three tackles, 11 clearances and was the best when it came to implementing Juve's offside trap.

However, it should be noted that without Kwadwo Asamoah and Vidal's tackles, the defenders would not have enjoyed such an easy ride at the back. Asamoah especially regularly dropped into the back line when Juve lost possession and his clearing and tackles, in addition to his wonderful assist, proved vital in allowing his new side to enjoy control of the match.

Yet despite his ongoing thrilling performances, the man of the match award belongs to Giovinco and Giovinco alone. The player whose partnership with Vucinic is developing at a rather impressive rate proved to be a constant threat at the top as he adopted the highest position on the pitch. He carried the pressure on his shoulders well as he pounced on a loose ball to score his first and displayed the clinical edge to his game by scoring the second.

More than just goals, Seba provided the accurate crosses, the important through balls, the constant movement and the hunger necessary to merit a starting place within this Championship winning side. Only a stronger physical stature would make Seba even better whilst he needs to work harder on the accuracy of his passing. Giovinco, against Udinese, allowed Juve fans to forget, just for 90 minutes, that they were still without a star striker.

With Udinese losing the will to fight after the Bianconeri struck their third goal, it was disappointing to see the champions of Italy growing complacent especially at the back. Guidolin brought on Allan Marques Loureiro who immediately began to threaten the Juve back-line and it was his through-ball that allowed Andrea Lazzari to strike. Lack of concentration and lazy defending, especially from Andrea Barzagli and Stephan Lichtsteiner, ensured Juve would not walk away with another clean sheet, much to Gianluigi Buffon's dismay.

Udinese could have done even better had they not opted to constantly go through the middle. Making full use of the pitch when initiating an attacking movement, the closer Udinese got to the final third, the more centralised their attacks appeared. It almost looked like they were going through a funnel when attacking to make it very easy for Juve's three man back-line.

For Juve, it's another three points to remain undefeated as they look to assert their strength for the second consecutive season.

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