Juventus 3-1 Chievo

17 Feb

Could Pirlo steer the troops to victory against Chievo???

Player Ratings-

Buffon – 6

His fate was tied to that of the defence in front of him, which was lacking confidence and security throughout the match. Thankfully, Bonucci put in a solid shift leaving Buffon with very few direct shots to deal with. Several of his decisions to parry and punch rather than catch the ball could of put us in danger.

Lichsteiner-6

We are used to so much more from our swiss nazi. His energy levels seemed fine, but the final ball was profligate and I felt that he lacked confidence in Caceres (especially after that horrible own goal!). An off day for the marauding wingback.

Caceres- 5.5

Hardly one of his best showings for the club. I am fond of the lad, for his tackling and determination, but am close to concluding he is best deployed on the flank (where he plays for his country). Needs to work on his positional awareness.

Bonucci-7

He was the rock we needed in absence of his two regular partners at the back. Cleaned up, covered brilliantly, distributed the ball carefully and made his presence felt in both boxes. Five interceptions, five clearances and two shots blocked. A mature performance from Leonardo.

Ogbonna –6.5

Still yet to persuade me that he is worth the money we spent, but in his defence its his first season and he hasn’t had many games. Perhaps a run in the side would settle him down and bring out his best form. Deserves praise for keeping things simple and the ball moving whenever he received it. He made 98 passes, but the vast majority were over 5-10 yards, which suggests his plan was to sit deep. Which is different to how King Giorgio plays, who despite his lack of technique on the ball, loves to bomb forward and try to get involved.

Pirlo-8

The most talented man on the field. Drove forward constantly, made himself available as the fulcrum of all our attacking play. Put himself about defensively. Two assists…always a danger from set pieces. He ran the Juve show from start to finish. Tremendous, but its what we have come to expect from the great man…

Marchisio-7

Never stopped running and gave great support at the back to Ogbonna and Asamoah. I was so happy to see him get on the score-sheet. Never one to complain, just gets his head down and gets on with the job. As mentioned further down, he is a definite second choice for me behind Pogba, but few teams will have such a wonderful back-up.

Vidal-6.5

Dogged in the challenge, but offered little moving forward. Maybe this was partially due to an awkward outing by Lichsteiner, forcing the Chilean to hold the fort more than forage in the final third. He appeared low on steam, yet still dependable. His season has been magnificent, its to be expected to find a run of games where he is below his best form.

Asamoah -8

Probably would have been closer to a 7 but that goal was magical. We don’t see that much of his prowess in that position driving through the middle, and it was one of those moments which made me think he is somewhat wasted out wide. His defensive work was average, and with Chievo heavy in numbers in both fullback areas, he found it hard to make headway in the final third. Wonderful strike though.

Llorente- 6.5

Well marshalled by the Chievo rear-guard, chances were running at a premium for the spaniard. Took his goal well enough but his link-up play with Giovinco was non-existent, the two of them often found far too close together. I hope that Osvaldo’s arrival doesn’t affect his form negatively.

Giovinco-5

Displayed great enthusiasm but was simply out-muscled or ran into a group of players too many times. His movement was out of sync with the rest of the team, but what can we expect when he hardly plays. Ran out of tricks or into a Chievo wall whenever a good chance seemed possible. The critical reception of the crowd when he was subbed off will have done his confidence no good, which shouldn’t be happening, especially when we are winning a game at home, top of the league and unbeaten in 15 matches. He deserves more respect, yet I assume, the fans feel they deserve more from him…

Osvaldo- 6

Instantly at ease on the field, Danni was given twenty minutes to impress when Chievo were shutting up shop and fatigue was setting in for both sides. He found two chances, one of which he nearly put away, the other, rather wayward. His link-up play with Tevez was present throughout and I suspect he has a chance of starting one of next two games.

Tevez-6.5

Showed eagerness to involve himself and linked up well with Osvaldo. Merely a run-out to prepare him for our tie with Trabzonspor on Thursday.

10 goals and 3 assists from 17 starts in his maiden Serie A season…

Overview-

The early stages of the game saw Chievo forced back and a lot of possession at our feet, as to be expected. It became quickly clear that our opponents were making up for their deficit of quality with brute force, with several of their tackles bordering on atrocious. What pleased me was to see how we reacted to the onslaught of hacking and scything, trips and barges. It began with two brilliant fouls by Pirlo and Marchisio, which demonstrated that if they wanted a scrap, we would be happy to oblige. I like that about our team, its one of those those vital ingredients which have been gradually creeping back into our game since Conte appeared on the scene. Its grinta…

The Asamoah goal was a thing of beauty. How often would we see such incisive penetration were he deployed as one of our central midfielders?? It is a good question, which cannot be answered until/unless we employ a specialist LWB. The one-two and the finish were sublime.

Marchisio got the goal his efforts deserved, threw himself into challenges, made himself available all over the field and gave as good a performance as I have seen of him for many moons. However, it was evident for the entirety of the game that our midfield was noticeably weaker without Pogba. It was suggested, by myself as well as many others last Summer, that this season could see il principino deposed from the starting XI and its easy to see why. Claudio is a wonderful servant to the club, technically solid, intelligent, but a weaker player than Pogba, in all areas of the game other than covering and moving around un-noticed. Yet I feel that despite Pogba’s understandable inexperience and greater comfort in the offensive phase of the game, the frenchman is not far off the italian defensively, due in no small part to his physique and robustness of bone and gristle. Whereas Claudio reads the play, senses danger with more zeal, I would always rather be facing him in a challenge on the ground or especially in the air, than Pogba. As with the player I measure as the only central midfielder superior to Vidal, (Yaya Toure), when Pogba has the ball, players literally bounce off him…He is very hard to stop once driving forward. His natural advantage of height and strength allow him more time to think before passing or shooting.

Speaking of Vidal…he is suffering from a lethargy of sorts. I would have preferred to see him rested for this game. He tackled well, but was far from his usual swashbuckling presence moving forward. Part of that problem could well be down to Caceres and an off game by Lichsteiner, both of whom I did not feel played well. Its tricky at times to see how he could ever get into our starting XI, certainly as a CB. He loves to tackle, but positionally, he is often suspect, and can tend to stand off players when worried about what is behind him. Which worries me even more!

Without Pogba to create from the centre and Tevez fighting his way all over the pitch, we became, at times yet again one dimensional, with literally everything going through Pirlo. Adding in another creative force makes us a far more dangerous team.

Llorente toiled hard but often found himself in the same area as Giovinco, which didn’t help matters. Regardless, he got his goal, well taken in the air, where he will become absolutely lethal I am sure, in time. The front two were not working in tandem, which had a knock-on effect for the rest of our play. Not just Llorente, but also Tevez, both act as reference points in the final third. The Argentine is a dwarf, but he not only has superb body strength but he uses it very smartly. Asking Seba to muscle it out with uncompromising centre-backs is a waste of his talents and our tactics. There seems no room for him in our 3-5-2.

If we want to make the most of his natural abilities, we would place him in a role between midfield and attack, not ask him to fight to even receive the ball against giants. That role does not presently exist. Whilst it seems reasonable to assume he will be heading out in the Summer, his final chance at Juve finished, I do wonder how he could perform in a 4-3-3 or 4-3-1-2. And then there is that extremely successful stint at Parma to consider…Something along the lines of 15 goals and as many assists, when deployed often as one of a front pairing in a 3-5-2 (although equally often as an AM in a 4-2-3-1).

Pirlo seems in fine fettle and the Tevez/Osvaldo axis seemed far more dangerous a pairing in the brief time they had to shine, yet some of that was due to their freshness. I get the impression they could be rather handy together.

Defensively we were far from stable. Ogbonna was more impressive than Caceres, but the absence of Chiellini and Barzagli was palpable and at times a major concern. Let’s hope they are both ready for the Europa tie mid-week.

Overall, a 3-1 home victory, with 4 of our starting XI rested, with the only goal conceded something of a freak occurrence, is hardly worth whining about. Still, I have to admit that I felt that same unease as from last season, when we would sometimes dominate games but find it hard to turn our dominance into clear cut chances. Llorente’s goal was fortunate, given the keeper’s position, who should have cut out the cross. Marchisio’s was off a rebound, always a luck affair. One other clear chance for Osvaldo…other than which, not much to show for 64% possession.

We struggled in aerial challenges, no doubt due to the absence of Pogba in the middle, who towers above most players, and also Tevez in attack, whose ability to win the ball in the air, bring it down and play it on, is rarely mentioned but always valuable.

Essentially, we were disjointed in defence and attack. Had we started with Pogba, Tevez, Chiellini and Barzagli I suspect we would have pummelled Chievo. As it stood, we were still worthy winners, yet were scrappy and lacking ideas/ intelligent movement for much of the game.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rsZ0pDjrySw

 

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