Old in every sense of the word it seems. Having been pressurised into a poor first-half, with Gigi Buffon reminding us of why he is arguably the best ‘keeper in world football today, an intelligent and game-changing switch in tactics from Antonio Conte coupled with a drop in intensity from the visitors, paved the way for Juve’s fifteenth win of the season.
Juve celebrate Derby win
With nine games remaining in the campaign, Juve are just four points behind leaders Milan. Sunday night showcased positives throughout the side, from Buffon’s first-half heroics to the battling second-half performance which saw the Old Lady snatch back the initiative and play on the front foot. Along with the giant '28' and '29' signifying the 'lost' Scudetti as a result of the 2006 scandal, came a banner that read: 'That which we earned on the pitch with sweat, was handed to you in the courts'. One of many responses from the Inter end read: 'Wow, everything is new. But Juve ***** is always the same' referring to the new stadium but same club.
Prolific. A term used with great regularity in football, unfortunately not one which has been associated with the Juventus strikers for the most part of the season. While Alessandro Matri was disappointing, Mirko Vucinic returned to his usual frustrated figure after some sparkling performances in the last fortnight. As they toiled at one end of the pitch, one man at the other excelled as he single-handedly (or should it be double-handedly?) denied Diego Milito and Co. as Andrea Poli and Joel Obi effectively shut down Juve's rhythm and denied Andrea Pirlo the time and space he is so effective in.
It was a different story from the hour mark, Conte replaced Matri and Simone Pepe with Leo Bonucci and Alessandro Del Piero, switching to a 3-5-2, while both Poli and Obi were replaced. Caceres rose unmarked to head in from a Pirlo corner to open the scoring, his third goal against opposition from Milan this season. Then, cometh the big game, cometh the legend. After Vucinic had been denied moments earlier, Del Piero showed his Montenegrin team-mate how it's done with a fine finish past Julio Cesar to effectively seal the victory. It was his first league goal of the season, his 186th Serie A strike in total, and it continues his superb contribution after his goal in the Coppa Italia semi-final against Milan. The final whistle saw Conte shed tears of joy, dedicating the win to the fans as the unbeaten run continues.
Following Milan's win against Roma on Saturday evening, the race for the Scudetto is an intriguing one, however the next few games could be pivotal. Milan face Catania (A), Fiorentina (H), Chievo (A) and Genoa (H) while Juve take on Napoli (H), Palermo (A), Lazio (H), Cesena (A). Whether the race for the title goes down to the wire, could be determined by early-April.
However, one thing that is guaranteed is a place in the Coppa Italia final. On May 20, Juve face Napoli at the Stadio Olimpico, after successfully overcoming Milan in an incredible 2nd leg in Turin last week. While it presents a fantastic opportunity to end the trophy drought, it is equally as pleasing to see the Coppa providing entertainment it has lacked for years. From the early win over Roma, the spectacle created by the two sides last Tuesday night was befitting of the incredible atmosphere inside the stadium.
Your thoughts on the Derby d'Italia win? Can Juve maintain the pressure on Milan over the next few games? With the Coppa Italia final to look forward to, are you dreaming of a double?
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