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.