There is an old adage that stipulates a title winning campaign is largely based upon finding a way of winning games without necessarily playing great football. Back-to-back goalless draws have seen Juventus fall a point behind title rivals Milan, with a game in hand away at Bologna yet to be played. Despite dominating for large periods at the Tardini on Wednesday night, the Bianconeri were unable to convert chances into goals, thus giving Coach Antonio Conte the foundations on which to deliver a furious post-match rant. Is the pressure building?
The heated tirade was based on the notion that the Old Lady’s luck has deserted her. While dismissing a penalty shout for Sebastian Giovinco as nonsensical, Conte revealed a deep rage over the performance of referees involved in games concerning his side thus far.
“I think at this stage referees are afraid of giving a penalty to Juventus. We’ve only received one spot-kick this season. This situation is really getting on my nerves and I cannot accept that Juventus are unfairly treated. At the moment they won’t give us a penalty even if we get killed.”
While his synopsis may be borderline irrational in terms of not earning a penalty even if we ‘get killed’, it is a view shared by Beppe Marotta who had previously questioned the standard of refereeing and demanded fairness. Similarly, this opinion was echoed by players both past and present. Pavel Nedved called for referees to 'have more courage', while Andrea Pirlo, who was at the centre of a penalty shout, claims 'we're not playing the victims and we don't want presents from anyone, but equality is what we're after'. While it is both acceptable to suggest and debatable as to whether the Bianconeri have wrongly been denied numerous penalty claims, Emanuele Giaccherini appeared to have a legitimate claim last night, it provides a distraction from a deeper lying problem, goals.
Matri & Co unable to break Parma defence
Of the top eight sides in Serie A, along with Palermo, Juve have scored the least goals so far this season, 33 in 22 games compared to Milan’s 45. While they may well boast the tightest defence in the league, it fails to address the issue of a lack of clinical edge. From Giorgio Chiellini’s effort against the post, to Andrea Pirlo’s free-kick which whistled past Nicola Pavarini’s woodwork, until there is a distinct improvement in front of goal, these draws will not be turned into victories (a penalty or two would help). Juve have scored more than two goals in a game on just three occasions this season, which ultimately paves the way for heart-wrenching moments in avoiding conceding late goals to scupper victory, to gasps of desperation when in search of a game-winning goal.
With the pessimistic outlook succinctly covered, numerous positives remain. The Bianconeri are still unbeaten, 12 wins and 10 draws attesting to that. Should they win their game in hand, they have an opportunity to open up a two point gap at the top with the upcoming trip to San Siro on February 25. While a grievance can have the undesired effect of frustration, it’s perhaps important to remain calm as we enter a crucial part of the season. While the Rossoneri appear to be regaining form with a win away at Udinese and their mid-week thrashing of Arsenal, it is more important than ever for Conte and Co. to concentrate on the task in hand, and hope lady luck returns before the end of the season.
Angry with some of the refereeing decisions in recent weeks and feel Juve are being hard done by?! Or is it all just a distraction from the real issue, the lack of goals?
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