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Last-Gasp Roar of El Rey Leon: Juventus Win and Increase their Lead

bAMBINIWith approximately 12,000 children occupying the Juventus Stadium, the Latin meaning of Juventus (“youth”) could not be better exemplified.  The initiative to fill the suspended supporter sections of Juventus Stadium, “Play With Me, Support With Me”, was an example of civility and sporting culture to those present and a message to the entire football world.

Barzagli and Bonucci returned to the Juventus starting lineup after an injury and a suspension kept them out from featuring together since Juventus-Napoli.  De Ceglie takes the left wing position in lieu of Asamoah (suspended), with Padoin on the far right in place of the injured Isla, with Litchsteiner returning on the bench after an injury that kept him on the sidelines for two months.

At the 15th minute, in what turned out to be a key event, Pirlo is forced off due to right knee injury after a contrast with Lazzari, and is substituted in by French starlet Paul Pogba.

Juventus tries their usual possession play, but the game doesn’t take off.  At the 29th minute, Bonucci’s backpass is intercepted by Di Natale whose attempted lob is intercepted by Buffon and cleared by Barzagli.  Udinese’s goalie Brkic is always alert on all of Juventus’ attempted crosses, and the first half ends without much to write home about.

At the restart, Di Natale sends shivers down the home side’s spine as he sends Fernandes a good ball along the right flank, whose cross is intercepted by Buffon but falls to Di Natale whose point blank shot is saved once again by Buffon in his superman outfit.  At this point, Juventus seems really out of ideas, making multiple passing errors (17 to 7 at this point).

Juventus celebrateConte knows this and gambles by throwing Litchsteiner in the mix on 56 minutes.  This move still doesn’t produce results, as Buffon is forced to swat a great shot by Lazzari into corner 10 minutes later.

But the Juventus boss wants all the points, so he substitutes Quagliarella, a forward, for the left winger De Ceglie at the 75th minute.  That move marked a switch to a 3-4-3 formation, which produces results immediately: at the 86th minute Quagliarella invents a venomous diagonal shot from 25 yards out that Brkic parries wide.  Then, at the 88th minute, Llorente’s header is saved on the line.

But the Bianconeri want to send the children home happy and try desperate moves to get the job done, which include erratic crosses and bunching up the Friulian big box.

llorenteIt wasn’t a pretty tactic, but it paid off right at the death: on 91 minutes, an odd cross is deflected on to Litchsteiner’s foot, who touches the ball toward the middle of the box on to Llorente’s head who puts it away behind an incredulous Brkic.  And that was all the Old Lady wrote.

Juventus take full advantage of AS Roma’s fourth consecutive tie to increase their lead to 3 points over the giallorossi clinically, and cruelly.



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