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11/15/2014
 
 
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02/24/2014
 
Juventus have managed to pass their latest test as their season reaches its climax. 

Having defeated Trabzonspor in the first leg of their Europe League Round of 32 tie and then Torino in the derby, now the Bianconeri must face the return leg in Turkey this Thursday followed by a visit to the San Siro against AC Milan. Following the match against the Rossoneri, Juventus return home to host fourth placed Fiorentina, finishing their run of five tough matches in 17 days. 

Even if Juventus managed to win the Turin derby, they weren’t convincing in their victory. A shaky start with some defensive errors allowed Cerci and Torino some half-chances which weren’t converted. Conte’s side kept possession, but had difficulty piercing through Torino’s staunch defensive setup. Immobile and Cerci were always ready to spring on the counter-attack, often creating opportunities much more dangerous than those Juventus managed.

Even with their strong start, Torino were powerless against the moment of inspiration marked by Carlos Tevez on the half hour mark. The Argentine controlled the ball on the outside of the box, and with a swift turn volleyed it into the bottom corner just out of Padelli’s reach. Just one moment of magic, and then Juventus returned to their indolent possession with Torino’s resistance slightly dulled by the opening goal. In the dying minutes of the match, Torino bubbled up a final flurry of attacks, but the Juventus defence managed to hold them off in order to claim the side’s third successive victory in all competitions. 

Although the results keep coming Juve’s way, Conte did not seem pleased with the performance at the end of the match. His side only managed three shots on target (Torino had four), and discounting Tevez’s magnificent strike there were only two other attempts by the Bianconeri on target. Conte will also be disappointed in Vidal’s careless booking in the derby, which due to accumulation of yellow cards suspends the Chilean midfielder for the visit to AC Milan next week.

The series of tough matches reaching their climax will be a difficult test of Juventus' squad depth. The Europa League return leg against Trabzonspor gives Conte a chance to rotate the variety of forwards available to him, perhaps giving Giovinco or Quagliarella a chance to impress him. Then for the match against AC Milan the Juventus coach will most likely replace Vidal with Marchisio in the midfield, who was only given a substitute appearance against Torino.

Even if the results for Juventus continue to be positive in this tough run of matches, the performances lack the same bite and hunger seen earlier in the season. Conte will hope that it’s the tired legs from the team’s midweek Europa League efforts, however if it weren’t for Tevez’s individual effort the Turin derby could have ended in a less favourable result for the Bianconeri.
 
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02/22/2014
 

When Torino and Juventus kickoff on Sunday, it will be far more than just another game. The Derby della Mole is a battle between two of Italy's most successful clubs. While the derby may have lost some of its muster in recent years, Torino have been able to put together a run of fine form and will feel confident playing their rivals. Alessio Cerci and Ciro Immobile have lit up Serie A this season, and will want to take all three points.


Ciro Immobile has had a breakout year and has not looked this good since his days with Pescara under Zdenek Zeman. With 13 goals he sits only behind Giuseppe Rossi in the Capocannoniere race, and leads the league in goals scored from open play, as he has not taken a single penalty kick. Immobile has been largely helped by the inspiring play of team leader, Alessio Cerci. The Italian international has 11 goals and leads the league with 8 assists. The two of them could pose a real threat to Conte's back 3 if they are not careful.


They are coming fresh off a 2-0 Europa League win against Turkish side Trabzonspor and are brimming with confidence at the moment. They sit comfortably atop of the Serie A table with a 9 point lead over second placed Roma, and were able to handily defeat Chievo last week. Unlike two weeks ago where Juventus blew a 2-0 halftime lead against Hellas Verona, Juventus were able to hold onto a 2-0 halftime lead a week later against the league's other Verona outfit.


Juventus have not lost to Torino in almost 20 years, when the Bianconeri fell 2-1 on September 4, 1995. 15 straight games with a win to their arch rivals will be motivation for Torino as they hope to end the streak this weekend.  

 
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01/28/2014
 

It was an interesting week in the world of Serie A as some big matches ensured that there would be plenty to talk about. With Juventus meeting Lazio at the Olimpico, there would be tons of attention on more than just a handful of Italian national team players. Antonio Conte's selection allowed the likes of Angelo Ogbonna and Leonardo Bonucci to prove their worth and show why they deserve a spot in Brazil. Along with Bonucci and Ogbonna, Juventus also started a couple of other Italian nationals in Gigi Buffon and Andrea Barzagli.

 

Gigi Buffon helped lead Italy to a World Cup victory in 2006, as well as Euro Final in 2012. However, he would not lead Juventus very long in this one as he was sent off in the 24th minute. It was a clear foul and the veteran Buffon is usually much smarter. Despite the weekend's slip up, Buffon will be Italy's number 1 come Brazil. Even without Buffon, the all-Italian back 3 impressed for Juventus as they would not allow a single goal to be scored after the resulting PK was converted from the Buffon incident. Barzagli, Ogbonna, and Bonucci, held their own and should all be in Prandelli's 23 man roster for the World Cup.

 

Elsewhere, Alessandro Diamanti was able to rescue a point for Bologna with a late equalizer against Sampdoria. Diamanti was on the verge of a move to Marcello Lippi's Guangzhou Evergrande of the Chinese Super League, but the deal collapsed over fears the Chinese club would not be able to pay the player. Diamante featured for the Azzurri in Euro 2012 as well as the Confederations Cup last year, and looks set to be a part of Prandelli's World Cup plans as well. 

 

Another of Prandelli's favourites Alessio Cerci converted from the spot to score the only goal in Torino's match against Atalanta. Cerci has been a vital part of Torino's success this season and one would expect to see him in Brazil as well. His teammate, Ciro Immobile, has also been making a splash of late, but he was unable to bury his opportunity from the spot. Immobile is a top young talent in Italy and did very well with the U-21 side at last year's Euros, but with the likes of Lorenzo Insigne and Alessandro Florenzi shining elsewhere, a spot in Prandelli's side may be out of reach for the youngster.

 

 
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